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Tips for a Smooth Transition
Tips for a Smooth Transition
Why is it that you always get an airline seat with a standard AC plug when you have just a short hop, your laptop battery is fully charged and you have nothing urgent to do? But, of course, when you board a long flight and are scrambling on a deadline, your battery is always out of juice and you couldn’t get an AC plug to save your life.
Battery technology has certainly improved immensely over the past several years, although most of us take it for granted. (Did any of you cart around one of the original “portable” 35-pound laptops?) Today’s batteries are smaller and last longer than any batteries that came before—but the ultimate on a laptop will be a full day of work on one charge. Adding an extra or external battery will get you there now, but not all of us want to do this because of the extra cost and weight.
The good news is that with a bit of effort, you can squeeze more time out of your single internal laptop battery. And many of the tricks that work on laptops can help you on your cell phone, iPod and digital camera as well. (Stayed tuned: I will cover those in the next issue’s Tips & Tricks.)
So then, it’s time to jump on the plane for a long flight and you just know you won’t have a plug—well, it’s time to go into ration mode. Take the following steps and you can take the typical battery up from three hours to four hours of use.
When you are purchasing a laptop, there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, big wide screens are really nice, but they eat batteries. If you plan to do lots of traveling, consider a smaller 12- or 14-inch screen. And max out on the RAM: More RAM means less hard drive activity. Also, look for an optional internal battery that has more “cells” than the standard battery. It will cost a bit more, but the extra battery life is almost always worth it.
If you don’t mind the extra cost or weight, for some laptops you can get an extra external battery that snaps on the side or back. Or you can simply buy an extra internal battery that you can keep in your carry-on bag to swap in when the first one wears down. Adding a second battery will usually at least double your battery’s life.
The batteries in new laptops will rarely be fully charged. It is very important to make sure they are fully charged the first time they are plugged in. And ideally, you should run through several charge cycles (fully charged to fully discharged) in the first week or so of use. Although less important now than it used to be, it is also still helpful to go through at least one full charge cycle every month.
Remember, too, that batteries like room temperature. If they are too hot (like inside a car that is sitting out in the sun), they will drain very quickly. And if they are too cold (near or below freezing), they will be very weak. You should store laptop batteries in a fully charged state.
In addition, laptop batteries will lose their capacity to hold a full charge after a few to several hundred charge cycles. When your battery will no longer hold a full charge, it is time for a new one. This brings up one last point—remember that the chemicals in batteries are not very environmentally friendly, so please take the time to make sure all your old batteries are properly recycled.
After all of that, I bet you will have a plug at your seat on your next flight! See you next month with some more battery tips for other devices.