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Guide to Getting the Most from Laptop Batteries

Laptops let you do more on the move, offering greater choice and flexibility than ever before. But a laptop only keeps you mobile while the battery is charged. Everyone who buys a notebook wants to know how long its battery will last.

The brief answer - it depends! Battery Life is highly variable, depending on how you use your laptop. Batteries for laptops come in three main types: nickel cadmium (NiCad), nickel metal hydride (NiMH), and lithium ion. You can recharge each of these batteries with an AC adaptor over and over and over. In most cases, it will give you between one and two hours of computer use, depending on a number of factors.

Battery Use Factors

There are a number of factors that contribute to or determine the usable battery charge time for your laptop.

Laptop Battery

Display brightness.
USB Devices drawing power (such as iPODs).
Use of hard drive.
Use of optical (CD/DVD) drive.
Battery charge state (was it fully charged).
Battery age - batteries have a finite life span.
Network use.
Memory upgrades - more memory means more power use.

Battery Extension Tips

Following are tips to help you get the longest battery life possible.

1. Keep Your Screen as Dim as Possible - LCD screens are one of the biggest battery drainers. Adjust your setting so you have enough brightness for comfortable computing. During an overnight flight, for example, you can dim your brightness yet still see clearly. Most notebooks have simple applications you can use to control LCD brightness; consult your user’s manual.

2. Use Power Wisely - Turn off or disconnect unused devices; each of them drains power. Most notebooks have power-management options. When you’re not using your laptop, you should have it on sleep mode (assuming you really need it on), or your notebook’s equivalent. This mode keeps enough power running to maintain minimal function, so you can resume full power with very little delay when you’re ready to return to your work or play. But if you don't need it on at all, shut it down.

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