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Posted at 6:18 AM ET, 02/28/2011

PostPoints tip: Don't take your laptop's battery to extremes

By Rob Pegoraro

There's a lot of confusion about the care and feeding of laptop batteries, to judge from my latest Web chat: Should you avoid running on battery to prolong its life--or rely on the battery as much as possible to keep it fresh? The answer is neither: As long as you don't rely only on wall current or inflict constant discharge-recharge cycles on the battery, you should be fine. In other words, keeping the laptop plugged into the outlet by the coffee table or the desk is fine as long as you take it to somewhere else every few weeks. (Or, if your electricity is sufficiently unreliable, you could leave it plugged in and wait for the battery to get a workout during your next outage.)

As I explained in a Help File item last March, the lithium-ion batteries in most laptops will start to weaken after enough usage cycles, but it will take anywhere from 300 (HP's estimate) to 1,000 (Apple's) for them to drop to 80 percent of their original capacity. So if your laptop mostly stays at home, you shouldn't have to worry about replacing its battery for at least a couple of years.

(About the "PostPoints tip" title: I archive each tip-of-the-week e-mail we send to PostPoints members under this blog's "Tips" category. Today's item went out on Feb. 22.)

Meanwhile...

* My column synthesized a few thoughts I've had about the disconnect between the ever-increasing utility of smartphones and the persistent unwillingness of other gadgets to take advantage of such smartphone capabilities as easy photo sharing and near-instant GPS location sensing.

* And in Help File, I covered a different sort of battery--the watch-size unit that keeps your computer's clock ticking along until it silently fails after a few years.

By Rob Pegoraro  | February 28, 2011; 6:18 AM ET
Categories:  Tips  
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