Poll: Notebook battery life requirements

I spent a fair bit of time using my Acer 1810TZ ultraportable laptop this past week, and the thing’s battery life continues to impress me. Even after a year of using the system on a pretty regular basis, I’m still getting about eight hours of surfing and writing time on a single charge. That’s netbook-class battery life in a notebook, and one of the main reasons I’ve been able to resist the upgrade itch. The latest wave of budget ultraportables seems to offer less battery life than the last generation.

Because I use my laptop to work while traveling, long battery life is a big priority. Judging by the low-capacity cells that come as standard equipment with most notebooks, though, I may be in the minority. So, let’s find out with a new poll: how much battery life do you require in a notebook?

In our last poll, we tackled LCD monitors—more specifically, the kind of panel residing in yours. Most of those who voted (38%) are rocking TN panels, no doubt in part due to their affordability and prevalence in laptops. 30% have IPS panels lurking inside their LCDs, while 10% are in the PVA camp. Interestingly, 15% of those who voted have no idea what kind of LCD panel they’re using. The remaining 7% are still using old-school CRTs, which is mildly shocking.

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    • Tibba
    • 9 years ago

    Is “20 minutes longer than the batteries in my dildo” a bad answer?

    • sigher
    • 9 years ago

    Voted 5 since 4 is the minimum but those things degrade over time so you have to add an hour to keep it above 4 over the long run I figure.

    • Trymor
    • 9 years ago


      • codedivine
      • 9 years ago

      Ahh my colorful friend, this is the end for you.

    • ludi
    • 9 years ago

    I can live with 4 hours, but since I also have a Timeline 1810TZ, I get as much as 7-8 hours on occasion and never less than 5ish.

    • stdRaichu
    • 9 years ago

    In the same boat as the author – I’ve got an 1810TZ and haven’t upgraded it (apart from a 120GB SSD, which gets me an extra 30min out of the battery) since nothing seems to offer comparable battery life, unless you go to a dog-slow atom.

    As someone who travels a lot, I’ve come to find 8 hours surfability a minimum requirement – and if you’re using things like 3G on a moving train and/or watching videos, you’ll generally get more like 6 hours. My work laptop gets a measly 3-4hrs on a good day and it’s frustrating to keeo having to drag it between power points – especially in a server room with only two mains outlets.

    • Corrado
    • 9 years ago

    I always wondered why there wasn’t a second battery that lasted 5-10 minutes in a notebook that was non-removable so that in order to switch batteries you wouldn’t have to power down. Seems to me like that would be a great idea for people on an airplane or something that have spare batteries. It always seemed like a hassle to me to shut down, change battery, boot back up, re-open whatever it was you were working on.

    • SoulSlave
    • 9 years ago

    Of course more is (almost) always better…

    But I really can’t see myself needing more than 6 hours of battery life. Mainly because I simply won’t use my note for longer than… three to four hours outside my work environment, at which I have a wall socket available. Even then I see myself using my note very intermittently, say… 40 min to 1 hour at a time…

    So, for me at least, the worst case scenario would be a 6 hours need, hardly more…

    • esterhasz
    • 9 years ago

    The question is simply empirical: how many hours does your current NB last? Do you (regularly) run into problems concerning battery life? Has an empty battery ever prevented you from getting work done? Do you normally have access to a power outlet? Do you find it a hassle to carry a power adapter around? Are you the type of person that will forget the adapter or forget to plug it in over night?

    While I would certainly not mind having 8+ hours of juice, my life/work patterns strictly *require* around 5 hours with the rare 6 hour spike. For me, the battery situation is mostly solved. I could make productive use of more pixels though…

    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    Where is the ‘The more, the better’ option? :l

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    My expectations depend on the type of notebook in question.

    Obviously, I’m not expecting a mobile workstation with quad cores and Quadro graphics to run all day long when encoding/rendering, and the same goes for gaming laptops.

    However, my main interest is in ultraportables. For those and for netbooks, I expect no less than 8hrs of light/internet use. I just clocked up 7h 55m on my Thinkpad X300 a couple days ago (6 cell + 3 cell battery).

    For mainstream notebooks, I want 6 or more hrs.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    I expect a full day of charge from a laptop that’s supposed to be carried around. Plugging and unplugging is a hassle that adds limitations to where you can sit, and the power bricks never fit in the slim laptop cases – so you’re forced to carry around a full-on rucksack or shoulder bag.

    DTR’s on the other hand can get away with as little as 30 mins of battery life. I treat DTR’s as one step up from the LAN party Shuttle cube: Extemely easy-to-relocate desktops. The fact they have batteries at all is a bonus.

      • no51
      • 9 years ago

      Just think of the battery as a built in UPS.

    • Edgar_Wibeau
    • 9 years ago

    I’d like a power supply that (optionally) fits into the battery compartment, so I’d only have to hook up the power cable. Ideally that would also vanish into the same compartment while the NB is powered off. I hate carrying around the extra power brick in my bag (plus cabes) and I usually have a wall (or car) plug close when I use the thing.

    Optionally means a battery would be the other, er, option.

    Alternatively a battery that lasts 48 hours (at full CPU load of course) with the weight and size of a chocolate bar 😉

    • bowman
    • 9 years ago

    8+ which is what my ASUS actually does currently. It’s amazing what they’ve done. It’s also amazing that other laptops with 2hr battery life specs are actually still being bought by people.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 9 years ago

    10+ hours… thats when i will buy my first one (unless I start traveling for work and need to buy one ASAP)

    • Deanjo
    • 9 years ago

    Just give us our Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor already.

      • Mr Bill
      • 9 years ago

      Just give me a fuel cell that will run on a good vodka or single malt.

    • MrBojangles
    • 9 years ago

    I voted on 2 hours.I agree with some of the other posters. I think people are voting according to how much they would like to have.Not how much is acceptable or applicable to themselves.I mean realistically outside of a long plane ride or road trip.When are you ever going to be away from a plug in or power source for more then 2 hours.Going to school?? Classes only last 1-2 hours on average, and believe it or not they do have outlets in the building.On the road all day?? They have car adapters for on the go charging.To me battery life as a priority is akin to putting laziness/convince before logic/performance.

    Personally i’ll sacrifice battery life for better specs.I can buy a bigger battery if i absolutely need to.I can’t however add in more ports with out spending more money on dongles and docking stations.Nor can i upgrade the cpu, gpu, or monitor. After i bought a comparatively anemic machine. Just so it can go all day on a single charge.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 9 years ago

    Where’s infinity battery life?

    • codedivine
    • 9 years ago

    Well I am willing to go for anything with 3+ hours of battery life and am more concerned about its weight usually. So a Thinkpad X100e is filling my duties perfectly so far.

    • Zenith
    • 9 years ago

    I’m rockin’ a Toshiba NB305, which returns me about 9 hours of life on the interwebs.. It did over 10 when new.

    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    I said 2 hours because that is the least I’ll tolerate. Anything less than that really isn’t about portability, it’s about protecting what you’re doing in case of a short power failure, someone tripping over the cable, child doing something crazy, etc.

    I’d *prefer* 6-8 hours. More is nice to have as an option, but I don’t see the need on a day to day basis to lug that amount of battery around. The little netbook we just picked up fits in this range and is challenging my behaviors. I’m used to thinking ‘must keep latop plugged in at all times’. This little guy can go and go and go…

    I liked the old Multibay designs where you could take the CDROM out and drop in another battery. That was a handy thing to do.

    • jstern
    • 9 years ago

    Don’t really like this poll, because obviously, the more the better, so I feel people are going to vote with that kind of in mind, even if they never go more than an hour and a half without having their notebook plugged in. So in that sense I think it’s flawed, not that it’s a big deal, just that I’m always looking at the flaws of a poll.

    I chose 2 hours, though ideally the idea of a 4+ battery life sounds cool.

    Quick question, since my my phone, and laptop are usually connected to a power source, does that extend it’s battery life from not wasting and recharging? Sometimes I wonder if it still uses the battery as it’s recharging it.

    • evilpaul
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t see why people still using CRTs is surprising. Older PC hardware still works and until a few years ago CRTs were still standard (or people had a working one when they went shopping for a new box.)

    • [SDG]Mantis
    • 9 years ago

    How much do I need or how much do I want? I survive by plugging in my laptop most places that I go at work. They’ve added an iPad to my technological resources, so I actually use it most places that I simply need to access data rather than create it. Its battery life is what I’d really like out of my notebook, though. The iPad might be light and convenient for accessing data, but it is nearly worthless as a data creation tool…even with a bluetooth keyboard.

    Since I use my laptop like an easily moveable desktop, though, I can use it with less than an hour of battery life…though that isn’t at all convenient when I need to do data creation on the move as I did traveling this summer. With only about 2.5 hours of battery life, it was a real pain at times.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 9 years ago

    There were full size laptops from almost two years back with 10+ hours of battery life. I say the more, the merrier.

    Batteries lose capacity pretty quickly. Even if you think more than a few hours is “overkill,” you probably won’t when that turns into 1 hour and you start thinking you may as well just buy a new one. I know lots of people who have caught themselves in that trap.

    • Duck
    • 9 years ago


    • esc_in_ks
    • 9 years ago

    I need 8 hours+ because I do a lot of international travel and trans-Atlantic flights. I can always find something to do on my laptop when stuck on a plane over the ocean. They have power plugs (EmPower) on most long haul flights, but sometimes they don’t work (and they didn’t provide enough wattage for my old ThinkPad 95W power brick!).

    But, yeah, no more playing games on it like I could on my T61p with discrete graphics. It’s a trade off, but I’ll take the reduced weight, better battery, and reduced cost over it.

    When my ThinkPad screen was smashed by my kid (my fault, I left it where he could get it), that was a $1,200 laptop. My new Asus is about half that, so when it gets broken/stolen/crappy, I can get another one without as much cash to shell out. Another way to look at it, I can upgrade twice as often to the latest hotness for the same cost.

    • Hattig
    • 9 years ago

    My previous laptop (from 2005 – an iBook) got over four hours of battery life, and that was good for what I used it for.

    I got a netbook that had 2 hours of battery life, that was mostly useless, especially since the PSU wasn’t dinky itself, and thus not really portable as a package.

    My work laptop is a MacBook Pro 13″, this should get 10 hours (but because I run some power sucking apps like Eclipse, I get less), which is useful when I go to the head office – two hours on the train there and back, and a discernable lack of working available power sockets in the office once there!

    Hence I think 6 hours is the minimum I would want, four hours for a home laptop I would use in the evening potentially unplugged. In terms of manufacturer’s specified battery lives, that’s probably 6 to 8 hours!

    • Farting Bob
    • 9 years ago

    4 hours would be my minimum, more than 6 ideally. Anything more than 8-9 hours would be pointless for me.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t have much use for something that’s entirely mobile – meaning a portable (desktop replacement) would be fine for me and a battery runtime of 3 hours is perfectly acceptable. It’s just not my usage pattern. I’d *love* to see more, but batteries are part of the triumverate of battery life, weight, and speed: pick two.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 9 years ago

      Now that there’s software that runs the gamut from automatically controlling power settings to even literally adjusting what would have required BIOS controls, I don’t think those sacrifices are really something you should be forced to expect.

      For example, you could get a laptop with a quad-core CPU and leave it on a low power profile that pretty much locks it into idle mode. It will still handle the internets and most anything else just fine.

      In the much rarer event that you need to do something CPU intensive on the battery, then you can manually set it to a higher power mode.

      I can’t try it for myself, but I’m pretty sure you can already fully automate that same process with the AMD quad-core laptops and Overdrive, and those aren’t nearly as fancy as all the upcoming APU/power gated/turbo boost whatsits you could potentially be able to play with.

      With multi-core CPUs, lots of them are already extremely low voltage to begin with, so that will become less of an issue, software control or not, over time.

    • KamikaseRider
    • 9 years ago

    For me around 6 hours is good enough. I had an Inspiron that lasted that long but it weighted around 8-9 pounds.

    • clone
    • 9 years ago

    battery life should not be a concern.

    don’t care why, when you put it together 8 hours or more minimum, enough time that I don’t have to think about it, enough time that I can watch movies on a flight without wondering if I’ll be able to finish the film.

    enough power that I don’t have to worry about how I use the laptop, that it will last all day.

    10 hours + .

    p.s. I’d be solid with buying a heavier laptop with a larger battery for periods where it’s going to be required (within reason) so long as I got those 10 hours and didn’t have to worry about how I used it.

    NOTE: Intel Atom based netbooks are too wimpy.

    • designerfx
    • 9 years ago

    I’d like to see 8 hours be the tenet of most laptops, but the problem is that it’s not the same across all usage.

    also a laptop that gets 8 hours probably can’t run a game worth anything.

      • Game_boy
      • 9 years ago

      I have an 8-hour ultraportable that runs SC2 playably (on low settings and low res, but it still looks great). Whenever the next set of die shrinks rolls around (22nm CPU and 28nm GPU), this will probably be common. I welcome that day.

    • Corrado
    • 9 years ago

    I try to temper my expectations based on the specs of the machine. My 15″ MBP I wouldn’t expect 10 hours from being that its a full speed dual core i5 CPU with a big 15″ screen. The 5-6 hours I get on that is fine. If I had a MacBook Air 11″ on the other hand, I’d expect 7-10 hours depending on usage.

    I did have a TimeLine 1310 that I could consistently get 10-12 hours out of. I wish I hadn’t sold that laptop now. I loved that thing, but I won’t buy another because at this point, the price/performance isn’t there. I may pick up an 11″ MacBook Air to act as a netbook seeing as my 15″ is in the Henge Dock most of the time.

    Also, you should rephrase the question. I DESIRE 40+ hours on a charge. I’m willing to accept something much less than I desire though.

      • cygnus1
      • 9 years ago


    • bthylafh
    • 9 years ago

    My 1410 gets six hours (which is odd, given that its processor has a lower TDP than yours), and the Cr-48 six to eight depending.

    Four hours is the absolute rock-bottom of what I’d consider tolerable, and that with an average workload.

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