Improving your battery life

I had a client meeting last night and the topic of laptop battery life came up. I know this has been covered before, but thought I would take a couple of lines and give some tips I have found to be helpful:

BENCHMARKS (very rough and from personal experience – this in no way is scientific).
Personally I see MacBook/MacBook Pro batteries get 3-4 hours of “normal use” (not watching a DVD but working in a meeting, maybe some internet etc). What Apple has frequently stated is a laptop battery should be able to play a feature-length movie (about 2-2.5 hours) on a single charge.

  • Batteries get old – after 2-3 years, expect 1/4-1/2 of the life of a fully charged battery when you took the MacBook out of the box.
  • Batteries (and computers) get HOT! Use trays or “laptop desks” if working for longer than 30 minutes.
  • What can you do?

  • Not using wireless (e.g. your connected in the office or sitting on a plane), turn off the airport (in the menu bar or from system preferences>network>airport)
  • Turn off “extras” such as keyboard backlighting on a MacBook Pro keyboard
  • Dim the screen on the Mac (using the F1 key push down the brightness to when you are still comfortable)
  • Not watching that DVD in the drive, pop it out. Sometimes, even when a DVD or CD is not being used in the drive – it will spin up eating valuable power from the battery
  • If you work through some of these things you should be able to work with a MacBook for 3-4 hours… Personally I have been at conferences, using airport and turned down the brightness of the screen and since i am not typing 100% of the time I will look at the battery menu bar and see it reporting 4+ hours of life remaining. Start typing and watch it slip to 2-3, but still – not too shabby.

    If you do travel a lot and want to have a solid 5+ hours on a flight “across the pond” or East Coast to West Coast, invest in a Airline power adapter (about $100). Two flights of non-stop productivity and it will have paid for itself…

    Comments or experiences, share…

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