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How long is long enough for laptop battery life?

battery life

What kind of battery life do you demand from your laptop? Would you be fine with a few hours, or do you want a full workday out of one charge, or perhaps even more? This is a question facing many of us, and recently we at Pingdom spent some time thinking about it.

To start off with, isn’t it amazing how much of our daily lives today depend on battery-operated devices? Smartphones, cameras, laptops, razors, etc. After we had attended the Velocity conference in London recently, we said that we would find a solution that would let us be online all day long without having to recharge, so what was our solution? An iPad you say? Not quite.

Does longer battery life mean better productivity?

If you want to be productive with your laptop while on the go, you don’t want to have to constantly worry about whether you’re close to a power outlet or not. So ideally, you want your gear to be like the Energizer Bunny and just keep on going, so you can write your code, edit your photos, or whatever else you might be doing.

There are of course many portable computers that offer good battery life. Apple says that its 13-inch MacBook Air should get 7 hours on one charge, and there are some PC laptops capable of producing 10 hours or more of battery life.

But we became very interested in finding something that would run just as long as possible without a portable nuclear reactor attached.

After some research we ordered a Lenovo X230, a 12.5-inch Windows laptop, with an Intel Core i7 processor and SSD storage. With the included 9-cell battery we get somewhere in the region of 8-9 hours of battery life out of it when we’re careful with the settings, which is not bad.

laptop battery life

Slice battery

But where it gets really interesting is when we attach the optional slice battery. It’s called slice, presumably, because the battery covers the bottom of the X230, and makes the computer just over two centimeters thicker, and heavier too, of course.

With the slice battery, Lenovo says that we should be getting 24 hours of battery life, something that we can pretty much verify now.

Imagine that.

After a 14-hour day at Internet Days here in Sweden, where most of that time was spent online, Tweeting, Facebooking, chatting, writing, editing and uploading photos and more, the X230 still showed about 5 hours left on the battery. That was just after we had spent a solid hour at the end of the day, finishing up a blog post and uploading a few hundred photos (over a 3G connection, we might add).

And we think we could squeeze out more, by keeping the display on lower brightness (which is hard when you’re editing photos), and perhaps another few tweaks.

A few downsides

Of course not all is positive though. With the slice battery attached, the X230 is no longer a very slim and light computer. There is no doubt than an iPad, even when combined with an external keyboard, would be smaller and lighter, but it would have less than half of the battery life.

So it might be that a Lenovo is not as sexy as a MacBook Air. (What are we saying? Of course it’s not!) It’s more like a tank in the form of a laptop, with a red thing sticking out of the keyboard. It’s also bigger and heavier than Apple’s tablet, and there’s none of that sleek touch-goodness.

But if we can get that much battery life out of it, we’re more than happy to put up with the design.

What’s your experience?

There’s no doubt that a laptop is a series of compromises in design, functionality, battery life, performance, etc. In this article we focused on just one factor, the battery life.

What’s more important to you? Perhaps you accept shorter battery life if you get a faster processor or a bigger display, or perhaps thin and light is what’s most important to you.

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