Laptop Batteries Lack a Performance Benchmark

All laptop batteries come with a guarantee of up to 6-hours battery life, 5-hour battery life, but this is hardly the case when using a laptop. In less than the stipulate working hours, the battery would be empty and you will be running around looking for a source of AC power, it almost feels like being duped. But who is to blame? The cleverly worded sentence “up to 5 hours” is a marketing gimmick, in essence it means anything below 5 hours even 10 minutes. This brings to light the lack of a standard benchmark for testing laptop battery performance as set for cell phones, cameras and iPods.

On the cell phones, a standard test carried to test battery usage in a real-life scenario, this  informs the tagline used to market them. The test captures the best/worst scenario while in use e.g 4-hours talk time and 300 idle-time; this helps the consumer gauge the performance level of a cell phone battery appropriately. However, for laptops, a vague description of “up to” is used which may mean many things. Cameras give the best standard measure of battery performance test; a camera will be tested with full focus, taking pictures every 10 seconds and with or without flash. The resulting description is an accurate depiction of how long a battery would last in actual usage.

The problem with laptop battery manufactures is that they give benchmark ratings dependent on lab test instead of real usage scenarios. The iPod has the best battery benchmark for real life use, 24 hours of music or 5 hours of video. Apart from the accuracy of the benchmark ratings, the iPod description is easy to be understand and interpret by the consumer.

The laptop battery standard benchmark problem is compounded by facts such as screen brightness, whether Wi-fi is on, type of activity currently running on the computer e.t.c. Nevertheless, this is no excuse for a lack of standardized benchmark for laptop batteries, the current ratings are based on the MobileMark2007 test that checks how long a laptop battery would last with 20 percent brightness on the screen. It does not take into account other factors such as whether a video is playing, user typing a word document, browser is fired up and other resource intensive activities. This leads to the erroneous description of a laptop battery life. The blame lies with the manufacturers who think consumers will pay more for a battery that lasts longer and hence invest more on the marketing rather than the technology.

Intel corporation argues that they have optimized their hardware architecture to utilize minimal power from battery when the system is idle and contributes towards a longer battery life.  However, chip-maker AMD is calling for a new standard benchmark for laptop batteries, the proposal is to have two description on a battery, one for the Mobile Marker test and the other based on how long a battery would last while playing videos or computer games. This proposal is still under heavy debate from other electronic manufacturers as it would spiral the cost of the laptop batteries due to the additional procedure of testing the batteries under numerous conditions. It seems the consumer is left with magazine reviews to gauge the operating time for their laptop batteries minus AC power supply.