SHCC WYSIWYG Article from June 2011

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This article was written by Don VanSyckel, the club president, as a part of "The President's Pen".  This article appeared in the June 2011 WYSIWYG newsletter.

Laptop Batteries

by Don VanSyckel

Warm weather is here and many of us will stop computing and spend time outside. Then again some of us will do both, spend more time outside but take the PC with us on its wireless tether. Unfortunately, the PC can't get power via a wireless connection. Of course laptops have a battery, but ever since I had to buy a new battery for my laptop, I'm careful to keep the laptop plugged into the wall as much a possible.

I'm not a battery expert so I'll keep it general. Some of us learned about rechargeable batteries a number of years ago when rechargeable batteries were Ni Cad. (nickel cadmium). The conventional battery wisdom for Ni Cads is to use the batteries down to their lowest point and then charge them. Apparently Ni Cads when partially discharged would form some type of memory and if their capacity was used repeatedly to a certain point after a while the battery would only be able to provide that capacity. So people would routinely run their batteries down to the point where the electronic device would turn off.

Fast forward to today. The batteries today do not work at all like the Ni Cads of yesterday. I have been told that running batteries all the way down shorten their life. So don't take the laptop out on the patio and let the battery run all the way down. Take a minute and plug the laptop into it's charger power adapter. Just make sure you don't forget about the sprinklers or that sudden afternoon thunder shower. Both are a great way to make the laptop go Snap! Crackle! and Pop! Trust me it won't give you an appetite.

If you do a lot of traveling or sitting on the patio where a power cord won't reach, and your laptop has a removable battery you might want to look into getting an extended life battery. This will allow you to leave home with both batteries charged up and when you're on the patio the percentage of the battery used per hour is less, possibly about half. this means you won't cycle the battery as far for the same usage which helps the battery life. Most extended life batteries aren't magic, just bigger, usually about double the size in volume. This means the extended life batteries hang out or stick out of the size profile of the laptop. Many cause the laptop to sit at an angle similar to what the legs on the standard keyboard do.

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