This past weekend it hit me that even when not actively thinking about gadget battery life I am constantly letting it affect how I go about my business. What gadgets I carry and how I use them is a function of how long each lasts away from the charger. I don't like to even think about battery life when using a gadget, and that impacts what I use and how I use it.
Battery technology has been largely stuck in place for a while. The dream of a tiny battery that runs forever is still there, but not going to happen for a long time based on reality. Battery life is still dependent on the physical size of the installed battery, and that makes miniaturization of gadgets a tough thing to do.
This epiphany of how I work around battery life hit me first when I got the Incipio offGRID battery case for the iPhone 4S. While the battery life of the iPhone wasn't bad out of the box, I had to keep an eye on it toward the end of long days of heavy use. A phone with a dead battery is a brick and cuts me off from required communications.
Once I got the Incipio, I was able to use the iPhone all day and into the next no matter what happened. The concern about lasting all day was a thing of the past, and that was liberating. Now I take it off the charger at 6 AM each day and never think about battery.
Battery life is a big reason behind my using the iPad for 'real' work. The 10 - 12 hours of solid battery life lets me use it on even the heaviest of days without ever thinking about a charger. Like with the iPhone, I don't adjust my usage in any way to make the battery stretch.
Even with decent battery life on today's laptops, I find I have to be watching the battery gauge to make sure I don't run out on long days. With the iPad that concern is not there, and all of my attention is focused on where it should be, getting work done.
The Transformer Prime tablet with the laptop dock is even better, with its 18 - 20 hours of real-world battery life. That's a good 2 - 3 days of use away from a power outlet, and that is totally liberating. Forgetting the power adapter on short business trips is no longer a killer with the Prime.
Last week the power went out in my home office due to road construction nearby, and it was off for over four hours. When it was apparent it was going to stay off for a while, the Transformer Prime was what I grabbed. I knew it would keep going and going, and it clearly demonstrated how important good battery life can be no matter what happens.
I used the Transformer Prime without power for the entire time, and when my 4G LTE mobile hotspot I was using started blinking to indicate its battery was dying, I didn't worry. I activated the mobile hotspot feature on my iPhone 4S with the Incipio and kept going without worry.
Hopefully one day the experts will solve the battery problem and come up with that magical tiny battery that can run gadgets for days. That will be a wonderful thing, but until then my gadget purchases will be greatly affected by the battery life.