Upgrade Report [Hardware Tips: Longer Life, Lower Cost for Batteries - 08/09/2005]

Discussion in 'IBM' started by Ablang, Aug 10, 2005.

  1. Ablang

    Ablang Guest

    August 9th, 2005

    Hardware Tips: Longer Life, Lower Cost for Batteries

    by Contributing Editor Kirk Steers

    Everyone who owns an MP3 player, cell phone, digital camera, or other
    portable device wants batteries that cost less and that last longer
    between recharges or replacement. These tips will help you get more
    power for your battery dollar.

    If your PDA, camera, or mechanical bunny uses standard AA or AAA
    batteries, disposable alkaline ones aren't your only--or even
    best--choice. Eveready's Energizer E2 Titanium and other high-end
    alkaline batteries deliver much longer battery life for some uses. The
    catch: They cost $6 per four-pack online, and up to twice that at
    retail, about double what you would pay for standard alkaline

    You pay a similar premium for lithium-based AA and AAA batteries,
    which also cost about twice as much as standard alkalines. However,
    they sometimes offer more than twice the performance, especially for
    such power-hungry devices as digital cameras and CD players. (Winter
    sports enthusiasts should note that lithium batteries perform well in
    cold environments.) Go to the SafariQuip site for a battery-life

    By time you read this, stores should be selling Panasonic's disposable
    Oxyride batteries, which lasted twice as long as comparably priced
    alkaline batteries in PC World tests; see "New Batteries: Twice the

    You can protect your pocketbook and the environment by using
    rechargeable batteries. Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries cost a
    bit more and take slightly longer to charge than nickel cadmium (NiCd)
    batteries, but the NiMH kind last longer (see the chart below). AA and
    AAA battery rechargers cost as little as $10 online, at electronics
    stores, and at discount chains.

    To get the most out of a rechargeable battery, you have to store and
    recharge it properly. While most of today's gadgets use lithium ion or
    lithium polymer batteries, some rely on the older, less-expensive, and
    lower-capacity NiMH and NiCd type.

    NiCd batteries need to be fully discharged before recharging to
    prevent "memory" problems, which can limit the battery's storage
    capacity when it hasn't yet been fully depleted. NiMH batteries don't
    suffer from memory problems, but some experts consider fully
    discharging the battery regularly to be beneficial. However, lithium
    batteries last longer if recharged when not fully drained.

    Check with the battery's manufacturer for the best way to recharge it.
    And if you've had battery trouble with your IPod, you're not alone.
    Read the IPod Battery FAQ for a wealth of useful information about
    IPod battery issues:

    Batteries start losing charge capacity from the moment they're
    manufactured. To minimize aging, store your batteries at 50 to 60
    degrees--but don't freeze them. And for optimal long-term storage,
    keep your lithium, NiMH, and NiCd batteries about 50 percent charged
    to minimize capacity loss during long periods of nonuse. Of course,
    there's no easy way to determine a battery's remaining charge with any
    precision, so first recharge the device fully, and then use it for
    what you approximate is half its standard charge duration before
    putting it away into cool storage.

    When a rechargeable battery becomes unrechargeable, don't throw it
    away; recycle it. The cadmium in NiCd batteries is especially toxic.
    Recycling centers are easy to find; go to the Rechargeable Battery
    Recycling Corporation site for a listing of locations nationwide:

    Power on the Go

    Any USB port in a storm: You can recharge any device that comes with
    an internal rechargeable battery and a USB port by connecting it to a
    powered USB hub, whether in your PC or a stand-alone device. USB
    cables are easier to carry around than the bulky "wall wart" AC power
    adapters that accompany most portable devices. Cell phone makers often
    provide USB cables as an accessory. If yours doesn't, APC carries USB
    adapters for various types of cell phones, most of which are less than

    Targus manufactures a Universal Notebook Docking Station ($150 list;
    $125 online) that supplies two "always-on" USB ports for convenient
    charging, even when your laptop is not attached:

    If you're driving, a USB adapter for your car's cigarette lighter
    costs less than $15 at computer stores or at such sites as

    One adapter to rule them all: Minimize the number of power adapters
    you have to carry around by using a universal power adapter such as
    those sold by Belkin and Targus. These light, thin adapters come with
    tips that fit many laptops, PDAs, cameras, and cell phones. Prices
    range from $80 to $150, depending on the wattage they provide.

    Auto-matic AC: If you spend a lot of time in an automobile,
    12V-DC-to-110V-AC power converters such as the AC Anywhere from Belkin
    and the Mobile Power Inverter from Targus deliver standard AC power
    from a car's cigarette lighter. You can't run a table saw from them,
    but they will power any small electronic device up to a laptop PC.

    Spin cycle: My all-time favorite gadget for cell phones is the
    SideWinder cell phone charger from IST Designs. This tiny, 2.5-ounce
    generator allows you to manually charge your cell phone anytime,
    anywhere, by spinning a small crank. Just 2 minutes of turning
    provides about 5 minutes of talking time on my Nokia cell phone. A
    small light on the SideWinder's case makes a handy emergency
    flashlight as well. The SideWinder comes equipped with a set of
    adapters to accommodate a wide range of cell phones. Here's the URL:

    Catch some rays: If you're going where there's no power but lots of
    sunshine, consider the $70 Coleman Exponent Flex 5 by ICP Solar. The
    flexible solar panel weighs 1 pound and folds into a
    7-by-9-by-1.5-inch packet that's easy to stow and carry. Devices
    connect via a cigarette-lighter adapter. In full sunlight at the
    equator, the unit supposedly produces enough energy to charge a
    typical cell phone in 3 to 5 hours. Here's the URL:

    Take the 64-Bit Plunge?

    My PC has an Athlon 64 CPU and is currently running Windows XP Home.
    I'm thinking of installing the 64-bit edition of Windows XP. What are
    the chances of hardware incompatibilities, and what kind of hardware
    does my PC need to handle the new OS?
    Ian Smith, Denver

    Kirk's law states: Never buy the first version of a hardware or
    software product. You may think this sounds like cynical advice, but
    over my many years of computing it has proven to be sound.

    If you're set on switching to 64-bit Windows, first read PC World's
    evaluation of an early release, "64-Bit Windows? Wait for Longhorn,"
    from the July issue:

    Microsoft's minimum requirements for Windows XP X64 aren't too
    intimidating: a 64-bit CPU with a clock speed of at least 733 MHz, 1GB
    of RAM, and 1.5GB of free disk space. If you do install the new OS, I
    expect that your biggest hardware headaches will involve device
    drivers. Most devices requiring a driver utility will need a new
    64-bit version. Windows XP X64 will include drivers for many, but not
    all, current devices. Hard drives, optical drives, and other devices
    that connect via ATA or newer SATA ports, for example, shouldn't pose
    a problem. But I guarantee that a few printers, network cards, and
    other older devices, especially those from lesser-known manufacturers,
    will be left driverless under XP X64, just as they were during the
    transition to Windows XP a few years back, and during every other
    major OS upgrade as it rolled out.

    For another take on the subject, read "Adventures in 64-Bit

    And be sure to visit PC World's Info Center for Windows to keep up on
    the latest developments:

    Send your tips and questions to:

    Read Kirk Steers' regularly published "Hardware Tips" columns:

    "The pressure is outrageous. Everyone is picked apart and it's so superficial and not real. I'm not superskinny and not overweight. I'm just normal."
    -- Hilary Duff
    Ablang, Aug 10, 2005
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.