Power On...

Aside from altering your software’s AutoSave settings, there are steps you can take that help wring more life out of your laptop’s battery. WINDOWS explains...

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By  Matthew Wade Published  February 2, 2005

Power On...|~|Battery-life---m.jpg|~||~|The battery is often the weakest part of a notebook. While Intel’s Centrino CPUs and mobile versions of AMD Athlon and Sempron processors manage battery consumption more efficiently than ever before, most notebooks still struggle to run for eight hours on the road under normal usage. Most new notebooks however do now at least ship with Lithium Ion (LiON) componentry; the latest development in portable battery technology. Compared to the older Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries of equal size, a LiON battery will deliver twice the run time from each charge, but does come at a higher price. LiON batteries come in configurations of 4, 6 and 8 cells. Put simply, the more cells a battery has then the longer its life. If you are stuck with NiMH we recommend you upgrade to LiON. Make sure to buy a model that fills all your laptop’s battery slots if you are a serious road warrior. Currently six-cell LiON batteries cost between US$150 and US$200. However if you don’t want to open up your wallet, then read on to juice the most from your existing battery. Calibration is key Not using and recharging 100% of your battery’s power is a bad move, as it means your battery’s fuel gauge won’t be in sync with its actual state (i.e. fully charged or otherwise). This can result in the amount of power available in one battery cycle being less than it should be, or the battery meter being inaccurate. Under normal usage, batteries should be calibrated at least once every three months. To calibrate your laptop’s battery, follow these steps: 1 - Disable Windows’ Power Management function. Right-click the Desktop and select Properties in the menu list. Click the Screen Saver tab and then click the Power button. Alternatively, right-click the battery icon on the taskbar. Under Power Schemes, select Always On in the drop-down menu. 2 - Under Settings for Always On Power Scheme, select Never in each of the drop-down menus. Click OK in the Power Options Properties window and then OK in the Display Properties window. 3 - Fully charge the battery by connecting your notebook’s AC adapter. 4 - When Windows’ battery meter shows 100%, fully discharge the battery by removing the AC adapter. By fully discharge, we do mean leave the notebook turned on until the battery has completely drained and your notebook has turned off. 5 - Reconnect the AC adapter to your notebook. Keep it connected until the notebook’s battery is completely charged. 6 - Re-enable Windows Power Management. It’s worth noting that most laptops come with a power management utility on-board, which is specific to your particular model. These usually go beyond the functions offered by XP, so if you have such an app, learn it and use it. Now that you’ve recalibrated (or ‘refreshed’) your battery, here’s how to extend its life: 1 -Reduce your screen’s resolution to the minimum readable level. 2 - Remove peripherals when they are not in use. External hard drives, optical drives, thumb drives and other peripherals all draw power from your battery, even when they are not in active use, so be sure to disconnect these once done. 3 - Reduce the speed of your processor. The faster your PC works, the more quickly it uses up power. By taming your CPU speed, you can extend the charge of your battery. Methods to do this vary from model to model - your notebook’s manual should provide instructions. 4 - Turn off all of your notebook’s wireless features when not in use. 5 - In Windows’ Power Management options enable both Standby and Hibernate modes. This helps conserve power and saves data in case your battery dies on the move. ||**||

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