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The Myth of All Day Computing

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The notion of ‘all-day computing’ and a notebook battery than can last a full twenty-four hours – without recharging – has long been a pipe dream of the mobile computing industry.

Back in 2004, Intel set itself the goal of achieving eight-hour battery life by 2010, using a combination of battery innovation, software optimisation and power management technologies.

Though Intel has succeeded in continual innovation of its chipsets, and users have become accustomed to carry multiple or more powerful batteries amongst other power management strategies, it doesn’t seem as though we’re any closer to the goal of all-day computing…and Intel only has a little over a year to get there!

Each of the six or seven notebooks I’ve purchased over the last year have all purported to doubling or tripling battery time, but in reality I seem to only get two or three hours of typical use; as battery and power management have improved, we’ve demanded more and more from our computers.

However, in recent weeks we’ve seen the launch of HP’s EliteBook 6930p, which the iconic company claim breaks the twenty-four hour barrier (HP Breaks the 24-hour Battery Life Barrier, HP EliteBook 6930p Lasts All Day, Literally, Laptop delivers all-day computing). The EliteBook uses a combination of solid-state hard drives, LED screens and an optional high-capacity battery to achieve its power profile. I’m curious to hear from users of the EliteBook to understand whether HP’s claim of a full day’s charge is genuine or simply the best case scenario.

Regardless, it’s worth exploring whether the need for all-day computing is indeed necessary, or diminishing in the face of altering and fragmented usage patterns. As mobile workers use devices like the iPhone and lower-powered netbooks, perhaps Intel’s 2010 goal will simply be moot.

Beyond 2010, perhaps innovations in blood and sugar powered devices will mean we simply need to feed our computers when they’re hungry…or maybe by then we’ll all have a Mr. Fusion ;)

7 Responses to “The Myth of All Day Computing”

  1. All day (being 8 hours as per Intel definition) is already with us. An EeePC 901, one of the most power efficient designs on the market will bring you 6-hours (a TRUE 6 hours, wifi-on) out of the box. You can get extended batteries (or a cheap 3-cell) to bring this up to 9 hours.
    If you put the Eee PC 901 battery on the best of the UMPCs (E.g. Fujitsu U2010) you’d get about 10 hours battery life on a single charge.

    While these numbers may be just good for marketing, they do atually give the user an element of confidence when they are mobile working. I know myself that if I see 1.xxhrs on the meter I start to worry. 4hrs+ and i’m feeling OK. 6hrs and i’m happy to commit to an all-day out-of-office session.


  2. Imran Ali

    Thanks JP – I suspect you’re right. Living off a notebook for 8-9 years, I’ve never yearned for an all day charge…and actually since adopting an iPhone, I’m finding that notebook usage has fallen anyway…

  3. I’m not sure how large the market is for continuous notebook usage. I do think the netbooks and iphones of the world are going to reduce the need of toting a full notebook around. I personally would like to see changes in work habits so that you wouldn’t need a 24 hr computer.