The Myth of All Day Computing

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 ;)