“Good to the Last Drop!” – Get More Time From Your Tablet PC / Notebook Battery

by Barry J. Doyle – 
3/14/2005


“Good to the Last Drop!”
– Get More Time From Your Tablet PC / Notebook Battery

Soyou got a fancy Tablet PC with Intel’s Pentium M or Celeron M chip.  Orat least you went for AMD’s Athlon M chip.  You got built-in Wi-Fi. Maybe even Bluetooth for your peripherals.  You are cutting the cordonce and for all right?  Making it through a long flight or the most oryour day without “plugging in” is a goal most mobile professionals andenthusiasts wish to accomplish.  Whether you are a long time user ofTablet PC’s or Notebook computers, we have a 7 tips that just mighthelp you squeeze out some extra time out of your battery per charge.


Don’t do it!  We can help you.


Tip 1: Starting Off Right

Ourfist tip is to get you off to a good start.  When you purchase a newTablet PC or Notebook it is essential to calibrate and break in yournew battery properly.  When you first unbox your new machine, the firstplace it belongs (after installing the battery) is connected to an ACoutlet.  Even if the battery indicator shows a full or near fullcharge, it is a good idea to keep the unit plugged in for a minimum of5-7 hours.  After this initial and absolute full charge, unplug it andhave your way with it!  Drain that battery until you “force it to shutdown” (save your work upon the low battery alert).  Then proceed tocharge it up again to 100% (this time just charge it to “full”).  Goahead and repeat the drain to zero.  After 3 full charge and dischargecycles, your battery is ready for the road. 

This process does2 things.  First off, it breaks in your new battery right.  Second itcalibrates it with your computer to give you a more accuratemeasurement of charge status from the software’s indicator.  Over timeyour battery will slip away from calibration, so it is suggested thatyou repeat one “full charge” and “discharge” every 3 months.  Refer toyour owner’s manual if you wish as some manufacturers may recommend aslightly different calibration technique.

Tip 2: How Many Times Do We Have to Tell You to Turn off the Light! 

Thebiggest culprit of battery drainage is hands down – the display.  Wantmore time per charge?  Turn that sucker down to a tolerable, butcomfortable level.

 Tip 3: Turn off Unnecessary Hardware

Youheard the flight attendant.  “Turn off your cell phones during theduration of the flight”.  Use that as your cue to remember to shut offyour WiFi, Bluetooth radio and to remove unneeded PCMCIA cards from theslot if you are not using them.  These devices all drain your battery.

Tip 4:  Tame Windows

Didyou know that you have programs “checking for updates”, scanning filesand running tasks that you don’t know about?  All of this unnecessaryactivity accesses your hard drive and over time makes an impact on yourbattery’s charge.  You can easily disable these services while on DCpower.  Here’s how:  

Click “Start”, “All Programs”,”Accessories”, “System Tools”, and finally on “Scheduled Tasks”.Right-click on any scheduled task in the list you wish to disable andclick “Properties”. Select the Settings tab. Under “Power Management”,choose “Don’t start the task if the computer is running on batteries”and “Stop the task if battery mode begins.” Click OK on each selectionto save your changes.  You are bound to find several “culprits” thatyou could care less about while you are out and about running yourTablet PC or Notebook on batteries.

Tip 5:  Choose the Right Power Setting

Inthe Control Panel go to “Power Options”.  In the “Power schemes” dropdown list, be sure to select either the “Portable/Laptop” or “MaxBattery” option.

Tip 6:  Add More RAM!

Shhh. This one is a secret of the pros!  If you have only 256MB of RAM, yourmachine is sure to write temporary information to the hard driveconstantly.  Boost that up to 512MB or even better 768MB+ and you willbe sure to minimize this issue, thereby keeping hard drive access to aminimum.  No matter what kind of “power saving technology” yourprocessor has, your hard drive is a leech on your battery.

Tip 7:  Only Run DVD’s and CD’s Unless you Have to

Gamers,if you must game on the plane – get a “virtual CD drive” application. There are many out there which allow you to copy an image of your CD tothe hard drive, which spares power to run your optical drive.  Moviebuffs – your bound to drain that battery watching DVD’s.  The solution:umm well… none at this time.

Wehope you find these tips helpful.  If any readers have more to addplease be sure to post under the “discuss this story” link.  We wouldbe glad to learn more!

 

Barry

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