Mobile device users obsess over battery life as it is the one factor that can determine whether a gadget is proper for a given task. Who hasn't been in the position of frantically searching for a power outlet to get the laptop charging so work could be finished before it dies? The importance of having long battery life cannot be overestimated, and my recent test of devices with extremely good battery life has pointed out some unexpected benefits.
Most laptops being sold today can get through a day of use, as long as the use is not continuous. Five or six hours is typical for ultraportable laptops, with some lasting a little longer. That battery life is not bad, but it causes the user to always be thinking about it during time away from a power outlet. Travelers have to be particularly aware of what the laptop battery gauge is showing at all times, to make sure it lasts long enough no matter what the day brings.
Long battery life was the primary push behind my test of using tablets for extended periods in place of a laptop. Most Android tablets and the iPad 2 I have tested get a good 10 - 12 hours of life out of a charge, and that is sufficient for most days so the approach to work can be adjusted in positive ways. The Transformer Prime with the laptop dock I am now testing takes that even further, with a solid 18 - 20 hours of continuous use between charges. This extremely long battery life has yielded unexpected advantages to the way I approach the work day.
Having real-world battery life that extended means no matter what happens during the day the battery is not going to run dry. That means I don't think about the battery at all, and that is liberating. My entire focus is on the work at hand, as it should be for maximum productivity. I am more likely to conk out before the battery of the Transformer Prime will.
Aside from the boost in productivity, the lack of concern for the battery life has other benefits. When working in my office full of power, I frequently collaborate via video chat with colleagues and friends in the industry. It is valuable to bounce ideas off coworkers, and to discuss hot topics of the day to get other perspectives.
When traveling or working on battery power with a laptop, I make a conscious decision to pass on such collaboration. Video chatting hits the laptop battery hard (these chats can easily last over an hour), and since I have to be thinking about getting through the day, it usually has me pass on the collaboration. That's not the case with the tablet/ keyboard combination; I don't give a thought about the toll on battery life such communication will cost. I just do it.
The liberation from concern about battery life means I work without compromise while working mobile. If I need to chat with a coworker, I do it without a thought. The same applies to any activity on the system that hits the battery harder than usual, such as copying lots of files. The other day I needed to move a bunch of images from my system to the cloud, and I just did it without concern. I realized later that had I been on my laptop with its shorter battery life, I would have postponed the copying to a time near a power outlet.
These examples are typical tasks that I can now do without consequence or concern. The same applies to the entire operating experience while mobile, and that is very liberating. My work is better due to the long battery life, and my approach to the work is without compromise. It sounds like mere common sense, but it wasn't until using the Transformer Prime with its superior battery life that I realized how the limited battery life of my "real" laptop affected my usage. It's not for everyone, but can provide unexpected benefits for some folks.