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Battery Life Boot Camp

Squeeze more juice out of your laptop, and make your battery last longer.


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by Todd Haselton on July 21, 2008

/uploadedImages/Multimedia_Assets/Images/2008/Advice/batterylifebootcamp_sh.jpgIt’s one of the most-asked questions we get from readers: “How do I get more battery life out of my laptop?” Many complain that their notebook’s battery can no longer hold a charge and that they have to leave their laptops plugged in at all times. We spoke with Kevin Wentzel, technical marketing manager for HP, to get his advice for keeping your laptop’s battery in tip-top shape—and to keep you working (and playing) longer when unplugged.

1 Calibrate It

Calibrate the battery based on its usage. “Under the normal usage, batteries should be calibrated once every three months,” Wentzel said. “However, a battery that is rarely discharged fully should be calibrated about once a month.”

To calibrate, turn off all hibernation or suspend modes, then charge the battery until full and unplug your notebook from the wall. Once the battery has completely drained and the laptop has automatically shut off, connect the AC adapter to the notebook again and charge it completely. Turn back on your power management settings, and the calibration will be complete.

Also, avoid battery-conditioning utilities. “They were really more applicable to previous generations of battery technology,” Wentzel said.

2 Don’t Overdo It

Remove your laptop’s battery if it’s going to remain plugged into AC power for more than two weeks straight. It’s unnecessary to plug in while you’re connected to the wall.

3 Dial Down the Brightness

“It seems obvious, but you need to turn down the display brightness while running off of a battery,” Wentzel advised. “I’ve done tests and have seen 15 to 30 minutes of saved battery life between a display at low brightness and at high brightness. Airplanes are usually dim environments, so it’s easy to keep the display brightness low.”

4 Hibernate is Better than Suspend

“The big thing that most people miss is using the display’s Suspend or Hibernate modes that come with their machines. Note that Standby keeps the notebook’s state in memory and uses some power, while Hibernate stores the machine’s state to disk and uses almost no power.”

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