Backup Laptop Batteries with the Mobile Writer in Mind

November 6, 2008

For whatever reason we can rove the landscape of mars with robots and walk the face of the moon, but we can’t figure out how to get 24-hours of juice out of laptop batteries.  Nonetheless, this article offers a few solutions to extending your mobile writing time with extended or external battery options. 

Extended vs External

Extended batteries are OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) add-ons that offer additional juice either by swapping out a battery and replacing it or attaching an additional battery.  Many laptops on the market have the ability to remove the optical drive and replace it with an additional modular bay battery, thereby adding 3 – 5 hours to the main battery life.  When purchasing a “mobile” laptop be cognizant of optical drives described as "Modular DVD/CD, DVD-ROM, etc".  Modular means it’s removable and not screwed into place. Since you probably rarely use the DVD/CD on the go, this isn’t a bad option if your laptop is equipped to do so.  Some laptops allow for the main battery to be easily replaced with a larger, more powerful extended battery.  For example if your main battery is only 6-cells, you can upgrade to a 9-cell battery and gain several additional hours of computing time. 

Tekkeon myPower

External batteries are more flexible than their extended brethren. These gadgets not only power your laptop but additional devices like your cell phone and iPod.  These non-OEM devices are usually more powerful, offering as much as 10 hours or more of juice.  Some external batteries like the Electrovaya PowerPad 130 recharge the main battery while powering the entire laptop.  Before choosing you want to be certain that the voltage output (if not adjustable) matches the voltage input of your device.  Extended batteries usually come with multiple adapters so it is a “one-size-fits-all”.  The caveat emptor here is size and weight.  Remember, as a mobile writer, the lighter your gear the better. 

Battery Saving Tips

This topic really deserves a dedicated article.  Quickly though… you can always extend your mobile juice by cutting off things such as WIFI and Bluetooth when not in use.  Lowering the brightness on your screen, decreasing or muting the volume and turning off all scheduled tasks helps to save battery life too.

Electrovaya PowerPad 130

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, the lack of laptop battery technology amazes me. Innovation efforts seem to be moving toward lower power consumption processors, and LED lighting that consume less battery, rather than more powerful batteries. And while I’m on my soapbox, any Starbucks resurrected after circa 2002 that does not have more than one outlet in the café area is just a godless oversized container of java beans!

And back to my center of peace…

If you’re taking that long oversea excursion and want to make good use of a 10hr+ flight, an external battery might be a great investment.  Keep in mind plane adapters like the Apple MagSafe Airline Adaptor don’t recharge the main battery, but it will keep you juiced during the flight if your seat is equipped with the necessary plug-in. 

Overall, if you’re tired of staking out the last outlet in Starbucks, and just need a few more hours of juice to support your writing schedule, then look into extended or external battery options for your laptop. 

 

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