Get lowdown on your laptop battery

Tags: Knowledge
Get lowdown on your laptop battery
How long with my battery last when I’m on the move?” This is the one question that a laptop user never stops worrying about. You probably already have some sort of battery monitor installed natively on your system that tells you how much time and what percentage of battery juice remains. But this is often not enough.

BatteryBar from OsirisDevelopme­nt.com is a popular battery-monitoring tool for Windows. It installs as a ‘toolbar’ that can either remain docked next to the system tray or floating on top of all open windows. BatteryBar is basically a simple battery metre—at a glance. It displays either the charge percentage or the time remaining to charge or discharge. If you hover over BatteryBar, it displays further details, such as the battery’s charge capacity, charge rate, full run time, AC status and the wear status of the battery. However, its USP is that it saves battery status history and over time is able to ‘learn’ how to provide increasingly accurate estimates. BatteryBar has both free and pro versions. For $5 (approx Rs 250), the commercial edition adds battery profile graphs, low battery warnings and more.

Want something a little more detailed? Try BattStat from Users.rcn.com/tmtalpey/BattStat/. Another free Windows programme, it not the most polished of applications, but it was coded by a user who felt a sore need for a detailed battery-monitoring application and decided to write one himself. It resides in the system tray and uses Windows’ built-in battery support to display power usage, battery status and battery events; moreover, it can also display information such as CPU speed and usage, CPU and hard drive temperatures and so on. There is also a custom hotkey to turn off the screen in case you need to conserve battery.

Need a strong visual reminder when your battery starts to run down? Power Meter Plus (Mattcollinge.wordpress.com/software/power-meter-plus/) is a tiny application (about 100 kb) that remains unobtrusive as long as your battery is charged. As charge levels start to fall, it appears in the form of a percentage meter, and gets progressively prominent as battery get lower. It can also usually position itself on a part of the screen that is not being used.

Mac OSX users ought to try out Coconut Battery from Coconut-flavour.com. It can be installed as a Dashboard widget, and shows detailed battery health and system information, including time remaining, charge cycles, maximum capacity, present battery capacity, CPU speed and temperature, memory usage and so on. It is also supposed to be able to warn you if you have the wrong charger connected to your MacBook. There is also an older version of the software available for users of earlier Mac OS versions and hardware.

SlimBatteryMonitor from Orange-carb.org/SBM is another nice Mac application. True to its name, its display icon on the menu bar is much slimmer than the native Mac battery metre. It works with both laptop and UPS batteries, and comes with various view options, including the ability to hide itself (for example, when fully charged). It also allows you to set customised low battery warning levels—something that is missing from the native battery preferences.

Of course, it goes without saying that this is a very superficial list. There are different types of battery metres out there—simple graphs that show how much time remains on the battery or powerhorses that provide an indepth profile of the system or just something that makes a very loud noise when your battery is about to run down.

(Payal Dhar is a freelance technology writer)

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