Dissecting Apple's new eight hour battery

Dissecting Apple's new eight hour battery

Summary: ZDNet's Robin Harris took a look at the new MacBook Pro's "8 hour" battery and concludes that Apple is nuts for shipping a portable computer with a fixed battery – and I couldn't agree more.Removable batteries are a kludge, not a feature.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Apple
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Dissecting AppleÂ’s new eight hour batteryZDNet's Robin Harris took a look at the new MacBook Pro's "8 hour" battery and concludes that Apple is nuts for shipping a portable computer with a fixed battery – and I couldn't agree more.

Removable batteries are a kludge, not a feature. The only reason you want a removable battery is that a single battery’s life is too short.

The MacBook Pro 17-inch is only the world's second notebook computer to ship with a non-removable battery – the first was the MacBook Air. Only Apple could ship a notebook with a fixed battery and actually try to convince consumers that it's a good idea.

Apple claims that the space saved by removing the latches, doors and support structure required for a removable battery allows them 40 percent more room for cells, translating into 40 percent more capacity. Further, Apple claims that the new battery will last for 8 hours, can last for 1000 recharge cycles and has a five year life.

Hell, they even had me drinking the Kool Aid after I watched the video by Apple's battery engineers during Phil Schiller's Macworld Expo keynote address. You can watch the battery video by clicking on the "breakthrough battery" link on Apple's MacBook Pro product page.

What do you think about the MBP17's new battery design? Is eight hours of run time fact or fiction?

Topics: Hardware, Apple

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43 comments
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  • Hard to say, time will tell...

    From my own experience, it's rare that I go more than an hour or two on battery. I guess for students who might use their machines around campus through the course of the day. Though they'd probably opt for the lighter, smaller 15.3" model. The other group might be a field photographers. I don't see this as a major big deal since the vast majority of laptop users I know don't carry a second battery anyway.
    gregory.dworak
    • Bullseye

      This is another "out of touch" story, much like the lack of an
      FM tuner on the iPod. Most people don't care. Most people
      don't care that their iPods don't have replaceable batteries
      either. It has to infuriate the heck out of pundits to see their
      opinions so irrelevant to reality.
      frgough
      • But....

        Doesn't Apple have to make EVERYBODY happy? Isn't the possibility that this new design will make the vast majority of laptop purchasers satisfied trumped by the minority of computer addicts that can blog about how this "might" fail.

        Yes, I'm being sarcastic.

        Thank goodness there are companies willing to take risks and try something new.
        oncall
    • How About Long-Distance Airline Travelers?

      MAYBE an "eight-hour rated" battery would get a business traveler from New York City to California - but plenty of Mac users fly from California or New York City to Tokyo or Hong Kong, or New York City to most of Europe, let alone Asia. My wife flew on business last year from New York City to Bangkok, and we both flew from New York City to LA to Melbourne - both of which closer to 24 hours than the rated "eight hours", let alone what the battery's REAL life is! This doesn't even take into account added power-drain features like DVD viewing....

      I always carry a spare battery with me for everything I own - mobile phone, Kindle, MacBook Pro and Netbook.
      drprodny
  • Did you even read Robin's article?

    Robin's article doesn't dissect anything, but it is favorable
    to the concept of an 8 hour battery being sufficient for
    untethered usage. The article also quotes some research
    into advanced battery charging that supports the concept
    of achieving the level of recharges that Apple claims.

    You either linked to the wrong article or you didn't read it,
    but Robin's conclusion is that Apple isn't nutty at all with
    the fixed battery... assuming the battery lives up to its
    billing.

    Shadar
    shadar1101
    • I'm glad someone else read it.

      I'm not sure how Jason, a journalist (term used loosely),
      could have misinterpreted Robin's article so badly. He ask
      the question, "Are they nuts?", but to quote the conclusion:

      "Good products serve; great products surprise. For a
      generation that has never known more than 4 hours
      battery life, the new 17″ MacBook Pro will be a revelation.
      Assuming, of course, that it lives up to its billing."

      That's hardly a negative endorsement of the company's
      sanity. The only caveat is if it doesn't live up to
      expectations, then Apple may be"nuts"; but then, and only
      then. The rest of the article is a ringing endorsement.

      I sometimes wonder, Jason, if you were one of those
      complaining when GUI's came in and the mouse took over
      from the keyboard, and when Apple dropped the floppy
      drive.

      Jason, you may be better off by reading (actually reading) Tom Steinert-Threlkeld's article: The Success(or) of Steve
      Jobs, to see who will be the industry innovator once Steve
      Jobs moves on.

      http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=11506
      A Grain of Salt
  • Its insane

    Apple would be about the only company to get away with a stunt like this. For me, having the removable battery isnt about extending the life away from an electrical outlet - its about user replacement when it goes bad. Now if it has a 5 year warrenty, great - however now im out the laptop (and lord know what fees Apple will have you pay) until the battery is fixed. My Dell Latitude D610 (still in service today with Mandriva/Windows Vista HP on it)- I buy a new battery from dell for about $100 bucks and im good...the battery would be free if it was still under warrenty from dell.

    Non-user servicable parts for CDs/Batteries/additional cards = BAD.
    JT82
    • there are kits for the ipod, iphone and macbook air...

      so you know there will be kits for this too. after 5 years, the laptop will be out of warranty anyway so you won't have to worry about voiding the warranty by opening it.
      lostarchitect
    • $179 USD

      That's what Apple is charging for a battery. Labour to
      replace is included. Make an appointment at an Apple
      store or Apple Authorized service centre. Go to store.
      Browse. Leave store with your laptop and new battery, and
      whatever toys you've decided you "must have". Oh, and
      most people won't be making that appointment for 4 to 6
      years.

      Yes, for those people who get a bad system, it may be
      considerably more trouble. For the vast majority of people
      who won't worry about sitting near power plugs while
      traveling, its a huge improvement.
      snberk341
    • Unless you routinely

      walk around and use 5-year old laptops, your foundational
      premise is meaningless.
      frgough
  • RE: Dissecting Apple's new eight hour battery

    People used to discard all in one PCs (imac) because of lack of expansion. How many of us have expanded our PCs ? On the battery thing, how many of us have more than one battery ? Sure there may be some people, but I have yet to know one who carries two batteries.
    marco.casalino
    • ::raises hand:: Me - I Carry a Spare Battery w/me everywhere

      B/c you never can tell when you'll be more than a few hours away from a power outlet....
      drprodny
  • last time I changed my Laptop battery...??

    Of all the Sales People, Engineers and others that I've seen
    with a lap top. I have never seen anyone say "Oh my battery
    is dying let me change it." They have always asked where
    they can plug in. If they carry a spare battery they have to
    think about keeping it charged. I have never carried a spare
    battery I just carry the charger.
    bonsrud
    • Come to think of it....

      Neither have I, especially since the bricks for laptops are as small as a spare and probably weigh less. Not to mention the extra steps of having to actually remember to charge your spare and bring it along.
      oncall
  • RE: Dissecting Apple's new eight hour battery

    The same doomsayers were probably also moaning about car makers eliminating grease fitting on the chassis. You don't hear much moaning about the hard disks not being removeable like the battery. A projected 5 year life on a battery sounds reasonable to me. As for a spare, how about the currently available external battery packs that stack under the laptop?
    Progress is good, but sometimes scarey. I remember old timers that wouldn't have an automatic transmission because they couldn't "push start" their cars!
    kd5auq
    • hard drives are removeable.

      .
      Valis Keogh
  • I think it IS a good idea.

    At least, for someone like me. I heve owned a few laptops and never had a 2nd battery for them, and never needed one. Of course, I tend to move the laptop from my desk at home to my desk at work and back, and don't travel a lot. So I recognize that it might not be best for everyone... however given that I have never had a battery that really listed more than 5 hours, this is almost like having 2 (assuming that it actually gets 8 hours).
    lostarchitect
    • also, i should add...

      that a 17" laptop isn't really a road warrior's machine anyway. most people using this will be near an outlet most of the time.
      lostarchitect
      • so annoying

        Good idea for you might not be good idea for the others. It
        would not be a god idea for me and this IS the reason why
        those batteries should be removable. If you would not use
        the ability of removing them, then good for you, but the fact
        that you would not use it should not be a reason for you to
        wish that it was not there...
        Pascal117
        • why did you bother posting?

          all you did is reiterate one of the things I said--but in a nasty way. I specifically said what was good for me might not be good for everyone. But guess what? you have other options. buy another laptop with a removable battery, and stop being "annoying".
          lostarchitect