How to keep a MacBook Pro powered all day

How to keep a MacBook Pro powered all day

Summary: It's possible to add hours to your MacBook Pro's battery life, but it's not easy—or cheap.

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Time to answer yet another question from today's Hardware 2.0 mailbox:

You've talked a lot recently about keeping mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets charged up throughout the day, but what about us road warriors that have to travel around with a notebook.

I have a 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display—just like you said you bought—which I use for video editing on set and in the field. Sometimes I'm away from a power outlet for hours, and I have to keep a close eye on the battery.

Any suggestions?

You can, but it's not as simple or as cheap as you might think.

The new MacBook Pro with Retina display notebooks come with an 85-watt charger. This is a lot of power, and solutions that worked with earlier MacBooks and MacBook Pro hardware—which drew only 45-watts—will no longer work.

While you could charge your MacBook in a car using an inverter that transforms the car's 12-volt DC power into 110-volt DC, these devices are bulky and noisy. To power a new MacBook Pro with Retina display you need an inverter with an output of at least 150-watt, preferably 200-watt.

But you can do better that an inverter. Much better.

Enter the HyperJuice. This is an external power pack that can power a MacBook along with any USB devices—such as an iPhone or an iPad—for hours. While it doesn't charge the device, it maintains the power until it runs out of 'juice'. 

(Credit: Hyper)

The HyperJuice comes in a number of capacities, ranging from the modest 60-Watt-hour ($170) that will add a few hours to your MacBook Pro, to the whopping 222-Watt-hour ($450) that will add a day to your MacBook Pros run time.

(Credit: Hyper)

Remember how I said this wasn't going to be simple or cheap? Well, here's the catch.

To use the HyperJuice with your Retina display MacBook Pro you need some additional hardware. You'll either need the now discontinued Apple's airline adapter, along with a MagSafe to MagSafe 2 adapter, or you'll need the optional HyperJuice Magic Box adapter, sold separately for $50.

Using the Magic Box adapter means having to chop your existing MagSafe power adapter cable, which you might not be comfortable doing. Giving your cable the chop also voids your warranty.

The HyperJuce is an elegant and practical solution to keeping your MacBook Pro powered when you are out and about, but having to cut your existing power cord, or find a discontinued airline charger does make is needlessly complicated. Given the price of the HyperJuice power pack, I'd expect that everything I needed—other than the adapter itself—would be included in the kit.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Laptops

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10 comments
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  • Inverters

    Aren't that noisy.
    baggins_z
  • Easy and Cheap don't belong with Apple

    Ok maybe Easy for some things but cheap definitely not.
    bobiroc
    • The original iPads were priced substantially below market expectations.

      I would never call iPads "cheap". But for the first two years, the iPad models enjoyed a price advantage over comparable models.
      kenosha77a
      • I'll agree with that

        During that time the offered a competitive functional edge over the competition. Today I do not think that is true across the board as Android has evolved quite extensively over the years where as iOS has been a bit static and now with WindowsRT the iPad is not necessarily the king of tablets as other brands with other OSes sometimes offer more and sometimes at a cheaper price for a comparable product.
        bobiroc
  • To be fair...

    This guy wants to video edit on battery.... I can see how he's only getting a few hours out of it. Most people will be fine with the battery life. What they should worry about it the inability to change the battery when it expires...

    One correction: mbp's have always been more than 45W - the MacBook and 13 inch pro draw 60W, the 15 inch pro's take 85W, but of course you can use an 85w with any of them. It's the airs that take 45w. They can also be used wih an 85w... It's just more bulky.

    I'm really not a fan of non user serviceable batteries; for one they are soft cell so much more dangerous to replace... Aside from warranty voiding.
    MarknWill
  • a lot of people using MBP just run windows anyway

    (or for a smaller number of people, Linux). and it's well known that while MBP gets great battery life with OSX, it gets quite bad battery life with any other OS. maybe you should write an article for battery tips for those using MBP to run a non-OSX OS.
    theoilman
  • Errr.....

    Don't be too surprised if Apple takes Hyper to court or if something screws up Apple voids to warranty because you used something that isn't from them.
    More sloppy writing. you would figure Adrian would give some tips like tweak the system to reduce power when not in user or something. But this is all nhardware that any Mac [and non-Mac] user can figure out on their own.
    Then of course is the additional costs and I can imagine how much these battery packs weigh. Surely you can find a plug somewhere during the day time?
    While others are reducing wattage [and still get the same battery life] Apple almost doubles the wattage.
    [And of course when it's time to change the battery, can you?]
    Gisabun
  • Hyperjuice experience

    Bought one of these in November 2010 and it is now useless. The batteries don't hold a charge longer than 3-5 minutes. Since it is out of warranty, I opened it up and found a sealed battery pack that is glued to the aluminum frame - making it *very* hard to replace the batteries. I expected something better for a power brick that cost in excess of $400
    lkarnis@...
    • @lkarnis

      95% of it's cost is battery itself so there is not point in replacing it. Just buy a new one.
      Roman Semenov
      • Hyperjuice cost make up

        Roman, are you suggesting that the voltage and power auto-adjustment features that allow the Hyperjuice to switch from a 45W MBA to an 85W MBP and vice versa (https://hypershop.zendesk.com/entries/24343616-What-advantages-does-your-HyperJuice-car-charger-have-over-other-brands-Mac-car-chargers-) are not a substantial component of the product's price?

        The Hyperjuice 2 is touted for allowing the cells to be upgraded individually in the future, which should mean the logic board would not need to be bought anew. Thoughts?
        junglejay