When you buy a new laptop, PDA, or any other battery operated device, the manufacturer does not tell you that the battery performance specifications are really only valid for the initial month or so and then spiral downward from there. Most people do not know that they will need to spend $100 to $300 or more for a new laptop battery every year or two. Most people are not prepared for their Blackberry to start dying on them in the middle of the day within the first year of owning the device.
Things happen in cycles for our clients. The most recent cycle for the helpdesk was having laptop and PDA batteries die and users asking if this is normal, even though the device is less than 2 years old. In fact, I had a client ask me this very question and that same day the battery on my laptop completely failed and would not recharge. Talk about timing….
Most of the batteries in today’s laptops and PDAs are lithium-ion rechargeable. The life of the battery is a function of temperature and charging cycles (the goal for a prolonged battery life is to keep it cool and keep the charging cycles to a minimum). For the most part, these types of batteries are supposed to work for about 300 to 500 charging cycles. A charging cycle is different depending on the device and manufacturer, but normally a cycle is having the battery discharge to 75% of capacity, or below, and then charging up to 100% again. The battery will slowly degrade the more charging cycles it completes so be prepared that even after a few months of use, your battery will not perform as well as it did that first day you tried it.Things to do to help maintain your battery
- Fully charge your new battery for at least 12 hours before using.
- Fully discharge and fully charge the battery 2 or 3 times to get the best performance.
- Do not store your laptop or PDA in a very hot environment, like your car, since the heat will degrade the battery life.
- If you do not use your battery much (IE: you have a laptop that sits at the desk most of the time and is rarely on battery power) you should run the system on battery power every once in a while or the battery will fail much sooner. The battery does not want to stay at 100% charged for extended periods of time.
On the horizonBatteries are getting better and better but not even close to the pace of most other technologies. Most laptops increase their performance by nearly double every 1.5 years. If the battery technology followed this rule, we would have batteries that lasted weeks and not just hours. There is hope for better battery life out there. Apple came out with a laptop that has a battery that is supposed to last 8 hours of use and can handle 1,000 charge cycles, essentially 3 times the norm. Definitely a step in the right direction.