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Lies, Damn Lies, and Battery-Life Statistics 200

theodp writes "What if automakers measured gas mileage by rolling their cars downhill with their engines idling? They might, Newsweek's Daniel Lyons suggests, if they took inspiration from the MobileMark 2007 notebook battery-life benchmark test, the creation of a consortium called BAPCo, whose members are — surprise — computer makers and other tech companies. Laptops score big numbers, Lyons explains, because they're tested with screens dimmed to 20%-30% of full brightness, Wi-Fi turned off, and the main processor chip running at 7.5% of capacity. Professional reviewers see company-generated battery-life claims as a joke. 'The rule of thumb is that in real-world use you get about 50 percent of rated battery life,' says a Gizmodo associate editor. Leading the call for reform is the not-necessarily-altruistic AMD, who gripes that MM07 was created in Intel's labs and rigged so Intel chips would outscore AMD chips, which draw more power when idle."
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Lies, Damn Lies, and Battery-Life Statistics

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  • by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @03:00PM (#28403573) Homepage

    People "expect" that just because they don't really realize it can be better. Put it another way: they don't expect that at all, they just accept it.

  • by rampant mac ( 561036 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @03:07PM (#28403615)
    "Leading the call for reform is the not-necessarily-altruistic AMD, who gripes that MM07 was created in Intel's labs and rigged so Intel chips would outscore AMD chips, which draw more power when idle."

    Instead of complaining that the test is rigged, maybe creating processors that draw less power when idle would be a good idea?

  • by Sorny ( 521429 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @03:24PM (#28403711) Homepage
    2.5 hours? Maybe the norm for non-Apple notebooks, but decidedly below par for a good laptop. Then again, I have a MacBook that gets 4.5 hours, and that is with the keyboard illumination turned on. Apple notebooks may be pricey, but you get quality and long battery life from them.
  • The Model 100 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ZosX ( 517789 ) <.zosxavius. .at.> on Saturday June 20, 2009 @03:32PM (#28403761) Homepage

    20 hours of rugged computing on the go. (Ok...rugged text entry.....) I want a netbook that captures the spirit of the Model 100. []

    People are still using them (much less, unfortunately) today. I'd say there is a market for a long lasting computing device that is rugged.

  • by Celeste R ( 1002377 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @03:43PM (#28403821)

    This challenge can be equally turned around.

    For the sake of devil's advocacy:

    Hey Intel, I have a challenge for you. Instead of rigging your battery life testing mechanisms, why not run your tests like real-world usage would do?

    Also, frankly, I don't want a laptop that is unusable out of suspend mode, I want to be able to use my laptop while it's near idling. Yes, I use WIFI, and I also use my laptop to see things I want to see. So at this point, just for this reason, I'm glad my laptop has an Intel chip in it, and I'm glad I get those 2.5 hours of battery life (I'd be interested in after-market quality batteries fyi) I can't see how hard it would be to prove your measurements inaccurate.

  • Re:Apple Doesn't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by icebrain ( 944107 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @04:11PM (#28403973)

    Battery tech has improved, but the computer manufacturers use that extra ability to run more stuff. It's just like how computers don't seem to work any faster than they did ten years ago--advances in memory and processor power get eaten up by bloated software and additional "features". And 4-5 hours seems to be what most people consider acceptable; few are willing to trade off power, screen size/brightness, features, etc. for longer built-in battery life.

  • by Splab ( 574204 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @04:13PM (#28403981)

    "People expect 2.5 hours", speak for yourself. I expect at least 7-10 hours of battery time from a laptop, I usually don't need a laptop, but when I do I'm away from a usable outlet for quite some time. Having an additional battery is of course possible, but those can easily weigh in at 1 kg+, I got enough to log around as it is.

  • Re:Apple Don't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arminw ( 717974 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @04:31PM (#28404115)

    ...Perhaps Apple is using a different benchmark...

    Perhaps Apple computers are able to manage power better because Apple is the only computer maker that engineers their hardware and software together and is thus able to optimize battery life.

  • by FrankieBaby1986 ( 1035596 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @04:32PM (#28404117)
    Wouldn't this manner of external battery be incredibly wasteful? Assuming the laptop does not have a way of detecting that it is an external battery and not a power adapter, then I would assume it would attempt to re-charge the internal battery. This would be very wasteful from a battery-life point of view, as charging a battery is not extremely efficient, and obviously, you would rather that energy be used to power the laptop. Or is an Apple computer smart enough not to charge the battery?
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @04:41PM (#28404161) Journal
    You don't seriously expect that the internal battery is any more "apple manufactured" than the removable battery was, do you?

    Apple, like pretty much all the domestic PC brands, has little to no manufacturing capacity in-house. Possibly some prototyping, and likely some customization/assembly; but all the serious manufacturing is handled by a bunch of OEMs and their suppliers. The cells will be sourced from some third party in any case.
  • Re:Apple Don't (Score:4, Insightful)

    by samkass ( 174571 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @05:50PM (#28404611) Homepage Journal

    Asustek assembles the laptops, but certainly doesn't manufacture or supply the batteries. If you know who supplies those batteries, their controllers, or the controller software please share (and cite). I certainly couldn't find that information.

    Here's another idea: Anandtech and the others who have tested the batteries and verified Apple's numbers don't have any reason to lie.

    Really, now, which is more likely: everyone's lying from reporters to users and in some huge conspiracy, or Apple's batteries really meet the stated specs?

  • by derGoldstein ( 1494129 ) on Saturday June 20, 2009 @05:57PM (#28404673) Homepage

    How appropriate, then, that the one thing they *do* oversee in-house is the manufacturing processes for the *cases*. They've invested quite a bit in manufacturing process development and patenting, resulting in things like the "Unibody" laptops and those highly-resilient aluminum coating materials.

    So many of their customers, after all, "judge a notebook by its cover"...

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