Laptop battery life: The new battleground for PC makers

If you've dreamed of laptop batteries pushing 30 hours of power it's been a good two days for you. Both HP and Lenovo have stepped up their games on battery life.

If you've dreamed of laptop batteries pushing 30 hours of power it's been a good two days for you.

Hewlett-Packard on Tuesday introduced its new line of EliteBook business laptops. Rachel King has the details on the EliteBooks, but generally speaking the big takeaways boil down to the following:

  • HP completely redesigned the EliteBook;
  • Aluminum alloy touches along with military specs make the casing durable;
  • The 8560p can feature a battery life of 32 hours.


Image Gallery: HP revamps EliteBook, ProBook laptop collections]

That latter point is the item that leads to a double take. My initial reaction was to head right to the footnotes. In HP's statement, the 32 hour battery life claim rides shotgun with this footnote:

(2) Up to 32 hours requires separately purchased HP BB09 Ultra Extended Life Notebook Battery and customer download of the latest Intel graphics driver and HP BIOS. Notebook must be configured with Intel graphics, optional Intel 160 GB SSD drive, HP LED HD Display and requires Windows 7 operating system. Battery life will vary depending on the product model, configuration, loaded applications, features, wireless functionality and power management settings. The maximum capacity of the battery will decrease with time and usage.

The upshot: I'd happily take 24 hours battery life. Let's be honest: I'll take 15 hours.

HP's focus on battery life comes a day after Lenovo announced its latest round of ThinkPads for businesses. Lenovo claims that its ThinkPad T420 can hit 30 hours of power with an extended battery.

Lenovo said in its statement:

With its standard 9-cell battery, the ThinkPad T420 delivers up to 15 hours of battery life, while the T420s, delivers up to 10 hours with its 6-cell and optional optical bay battery combined. For extreme battery life needs, the ThinkPad T420, with its standard 9-cell battery and optional 9-cell slice battery, provides up to 30 hours of computing power.

What's going on here? Processors are yielding advances that are translating into laptops that can run for a few working days without a charge. That's a welcome advance for sure. Lenovo said Intel and Nvidia are giving better battery performance with their latest chips. HP is also benefiting from those advances, but also noted that its Power Assistant software extends battery run time.

In either case, business users will take the extra battery time.