Everybody wants smaller, faster, more reliable laptops. But nobody wants to lose battery power. It is the age old problem of every manufacturer - how do we put all of this micro technology into one super slick unit, make it lightweight, fast and reliable, prevent heat and noise output and still provide excellent battery life. For years manufacturers have wrestled with this alligator! never getting the balance right between performance and power. Instead one always has to give, and it’s a choice the user can usually make.
Most low budget laptop PC’s are powered by lithium Ion 3-cell batteries (three cylindrical batteries encased in one battery pack). These 3-cell batteries rarely last upwards of 1½hrs, and in high intensity periods of use can last a measly 1hr. This is no real use to anyone, so manufacturers are increasingly installing 6-cell lithium Ion batteries as standard into modern notebook and tablet PC architecture. These 6-cell batteries provide 3 to 4hrs of use, which is a considerable upgrade but still not nearly enough for the truly mobile user. As such 9-cell batteries are available from most manufacturers and provide a whopping 9hrs of power. However, phenomenal battery life aside these 9-cell’s come at an additional cost and currently only sit as an extended battery slate on the bottom of laptop’s, hence adding considerable weight and sometimes heat to the base of the unit.
Whether you need 3, 6 or 9-cell battery power depends on your own laptop requirements. Do you really need a mobile unit with extended battery life? Will you have access to plug sockets wherever you ‘roam’? This is crucial to your decision, if your laptop will be mains powered the vast majority of the time then battery life is of no concern. If however you need the device for walk-round activities, on site work or during transit, then it would be advisable to look for a laptop that delivers battery power of at least 3 or 4hrs, making the 6 or 9-cell battery a must.
A word of warning do not get seduced by manufacturer claims when it comes to battery life. A laptop manufacturer that states battery life of 8+hrs is almost certainly embellishing the truth, and if they are not, this ‘statement’ is based on laptop testing where a unit has been sat doing nothing for a good proportion of that time. In fact any manufacturer claiming a laptop has battery life beyond 6hrs is most likely stretching the truth. Expect a laptop PC with a standard 6-cell battery pack to last around 3hrs during periods of high usage, and up to 4hrs during normal use. Whatever the use, with today’s cutting edge technology and processor hungry applications a 6-cell battery is the minimum requirement for anything other than a laptop that is going to sit connected to a power supply 95% of the time. For the ultramobile user, the 9-cell variety needs serious consideration.