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APC’s Universal Notebook Battery Booster

APC’s Universal Notebook Battery Booster

With every product generation, the notebook industry promises increased battery run times, but the advances are in fact small, and run times still mainly depend on the power provided by the notebook battery. More efficient processors and platforms, drives and LED-backlit displays certainly help a lot. Real leaps, however—say to 10+ hours of battery life—just aren’t within reach.

APC offers an alternative that lets you increase your battery runtime by several hours, but it requires you to pack an additional 750 g (1.65 lbs) into your travel bag...

Power Drains…

Each part inside a notebook requires a certain amount of electric power. The electrical draw of the system isn’t constant; it varies depending on the state of the each component. Displays are the largest power-eaters, as they have to operate transistors and their backlight—larger and higher resolution displays typically require more power than smaller ones. But there is also quite a power requirement range among notebook system components.

Modern notebook processors may require little power when there is nothing to do, but they can go up to 35 watts of power consumption at full load, depending on the processor model and power classification. Notebook platforms using graphics units built into the chipset are the most efficient, while notebooks utilizing a discrete mobile GeForce or Mobility Radeon always consume at least a bit more power than integrated solutions. In terms of storage, flash SSD drives have the potential to deliver impressive throughput and quick access times with very little power consumption. Most devices require considerably less power when they are idle, so it makes sense to operate your notebook as close to idle as possible, to maximize battery run time.

…and Power Sources

Dell’s Latitude E6400 supports additional battery packs.Dell’s Latitude E6400 supports additional battery packs.

While there are alternative energy sources on the horizon, such as silver-zinc batteries (see ZPower), none of them are ready to be deployed into the mainstream right now, where huge quantities of batteries are required. Notebooks typically utilize lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries, which are organized into so-called “cells” (typical capacities are three, six, or sometimes nine cells). While the power level of a battery depends on the specific model, a 6-cell battery will generally give you twice the battery run time of a 3-cell model. Battery capacities are rated in Watt-hours (Wh).

Dell’s Latitude D630 can be equipped with 9-cell batteries.Dell’s Latitude D630 can be equipped with 9-cell batteries.

The 9-cell batteries obviously provide the most juice, but they are often too large to be accommodated within the standard rectangular notebook footprint, and hence stick out a bit from the back. To expand capacity without this physical size expansion, some notebook vendors offer additional modular batteries that can be inserted instead of a machine’s optical drive; these are especially common on portable business notebooks (13-15”).

Another option is to attach additional, external battery packs, which are available from some of the notebook makers for specific models. And APC allows you to do the same with the product we reviewed: the Universal Notebook Battery.

As we found out, APC has discontinued all of its mobile products, hence you may be able to get a deal on these products, but without any serious warranty backup.

Check prices for APC's Universal Notebook Battery 70

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  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , March 27, 2009 10:02 AM
    You would gain about 2-3 hours more using 6-cell MediaBay battery instead of DVDRW drive.

    I personally own almost identical notebook (with T7300 CPU) packed up with 9-cell (85Wh) and 6-cell (48Wh) and I got little more then 8 hours at idle.
  • 0 Hide
    chovav , March 27, 2009 10:57 AM
    great stuff! This actually looks like a product you might want to buy.. I only ask myself how good these batteries are on the long run.. how many times you can charge/discharge it and if that's comparable to a standard battery.

    Good review!
  • 1 Hide
    NSSwift , March 27, 2009 12:35 PM
    I went to APC's site and it seems like this product is discontinued.
  • 1 Hide
    jalt , March 27, 2009 1:27 PM
    I went to APC's site and it seems like this product is discontinued. [...] _sku=upb70

    Yeah, this "review" is kind of strange. The product manuals, if you click on the compatibility guides, are copyrighted in 2004-2005. Little late in getting the reviews in, ehh?
  • 3 Hide
    glawk , March 27, 2009 1:29 PM
    Sooo... is Tom's writing reviews on dead products now?
  • 2 Hide
    gwolfman , March 27, 2009 2:42 PM

    APC Universal Notebook Battery: 3h 38min
    Dell 85Wh: 4h 35min
    Total: 5

    Wow, where did you learn math?
  • 2 Hide
    mdillenbeck , March 27, 2009 3:10 PM
    Personally, I like my Tekkeon MP3450. It is truly universal in that it has low amp options for powering my EEE PC - in other words it is universal for notebooks and netbooks. It also has a usb slot for powering devices that way. Sure, its only has 50 watt hours, but you can buy a secondary 50W battery and bridge them for 100 watt hours total. Add on the adapter I can buy to plug it directly into the DC output for a roll-up solar panel, and I am literally a happy camper!

    Why don't you guys at Tom's aquire one of these Tekkeon batteries and give us a review?
  • 1 Hide
    lashrimp , March 27, 2009 4:56 PM
    review should be done 4 years ago.
  • 0 Hide
    Fadamor , March 27, 2009 5:44 PM
    Maybe they're just getting their 2005 mail delivered over in Germany. :-)

    I was going to comment on the math used in the Battery Run Time Results table, but GWolfman beat me to it. They got the total time right in the article, though. 8 hours, 13 minutes.
  • 0 Hide
    Fadamor , March 27, 2009 5:48 PM
    Just a thought... maybe someone got burned on the legs by setting the battery on their lap while it was charging. APC would cancel it in the States due to lawsuit issues, but might still sell it in Europe where they aren't as litigous.
  • 0 Hide
    ph3412b07 , March 27, 2009 6:37 PM
    I like it...for some reason my silly laptop only has a 4-cell battery, non upgradable to larger capacity. Heck, its 14.1" and netbooks have 6-cell batteries.
  • 0 Hide
    pharge , March 27, 2009 7:14 PM
    This one has been out for a while. I got one for my Toshiba M4.. but due to unknow reason, their plug for Toshiba did not work on my laptop. I had to return it... too bad... I never have the chance to know how good it is... >_
  • 0 Hide
    Luscious , March 28, 2009 6:30 AM
    Notebooks with the crappiest batteries are the big 17 inch models with discreet graphics - these are the ones that would benefit most from an external battery. Unfortunately the APC unit, as well as others like elektrovaya, offers lousy amp-hour performance for a 17 inch notebook.

    But I did find it funny how Tom's chose to go with a small 14 inch notebook for this test with integrated graphics - not exactly a power hog to start with...

    Design an 8-hour battery for something like the Toshiba X305-Q708, that will get my attention.

    Agreed also, this product is terribly old. Slow news day at Tom's or lack of writing talent for new articles???
  • 0 Hide
    bobwya , March 28, 2009 9:16 AM
    THG = fail
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 28, 2009 3:53 PM
    Product might be good if it worked. However, with the HP/Compaq MC6400 the APC doesn't work and APC doesnt' care and had nothing to say when we called them concerning the issue of their tip not working with their unit.
  • 0 Hide
    jawshoeaw , March 30, 2009 7:50 PM
    FadamorJust a thought... maybe someone got burned on the legs by setting the battery on their lap while it was charging. APC would cancel it in the States due to lawsuit issues, but might still sell it in Europe where they aren't as litigous.

    Are you saying a European would not sue APC if the battery burned the user?
  • 0 Hide
    wrapper , April 1, 2009 12:47 PM
    I have been using a 160 watt Electrofeul from for 5 years now and it gives me 10-14 hours of extra life.
  • 0 Hide
    bobwya , April 1, 2009 8:47 PM
    wrapperI have been using a 160 watt Electrofeul from for 5 years now and it gives me 10-14 hours of extra life.

    Uhmmm sounds more useful than an APC battery that is no longer produced...