HP Gives a Lesson in Batteries, Explains the 32-hour Laptop

A single Li-ion cellA single Li-ion cellHP recently held a battery life event in Silicon Valley – or more specifically, the birthplace of Silicon Valley at the HP Garage at 367 Addison Avenue in Palo Alto, Calif., where in 1939 Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard established the Hewlett-Packard partnership.

HP brought the media there to highlight one of its business laptops, the EliteBook 8460p, and its impressive claim of a 32.5-hour battery life (according to Mobile Mark). Such a battery life estimate is at the top of the industry, but also does carry an asterisk on HP's page about how it's achieved:

Up to 32 hours requires HP 9-cell (100 WHr) Li-Ion primary battery, separately purchased HP BB09 Ultra Extended Life Notebook Battery and customer download of the latest Intel graphics driver and HP BIOS. Notebook must be configured with Intel graphics, optional Intel 160GB SSD drive, HP LED HD Display and requires Windows 7 operating system. Battery life will vary depending on the product model, configuration, loaded applications, features, wireless functionality and power management settings. The maximum capacity of the battery will decrease with time and usage.

We went hands on with the fully-battery-loaded model and HP's battery life boasts, while still industry-leading, can drop for power users who are demanding constant effort from their machines. Light use will definitely allow the CPU to enter idle states, leading to more than a full day of run time. Those who foresee long lengths of time away from an outlet will see a great feature in the extended battery accessory. For those who actually have to carry their laptops around, however, the additional heft is considerable – such is the relationship between battery capacity and weight. The "Ultra Extended Life" battery is a bolt-on accessory, so the added weight can come on only at times only when needed.

The extra nine cells inside the extended battery packThe extra nine cells inside the extended battery pack

Dr. John Wozniak, an HP distinguished technologist in power technology, helps to engineer the battery technology that goes into the company's portable products. He gave a talk at the historic dining table in Palo Alto talking about what powers our mobile devices while we're away from an outlet.

We were able to capture the majority of his presentation at the HP Garage, which we're pleased to present to you below. It's nearly an hour in total length, but we assure you that you'll come out of it with a new understanding of the thought and engineering that go into your laptop and other mobile devices.

HP Laptop Battery Presentation pt. 1

HP Laptop Battery Presentation pt. 2

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  • danwat1234
    So 32 hours for a 100 watt hour battery, means the laptop is using an average of 3 watts of power out of the battery. No way unless screen brightness is at lowest and your just staring at a Word document and only moving the mouse or typing on the keyboard a few times a minute. The RAM is going to take a few watts (unless downclocked when idle?), the SSD about 500mW, the CPU and chipset will be a few watts and the screen will be a few watts even if LED.

    Even on the link in the article to the website, it says the 9 cell will last 13 hours 45 minutes, but that might not be with the specs they say is needed to make it last 32hrs

    My Atom netbook with a ~55 watt hour battery only lasts about 5 hours, and from the wall with a kill-a-watt it takes about 13 watts all the time. This is an Atom netbook with an older less efficient chipset though. Power consumption doesn't go up noticeably if CPU is idle vs CPU @100% load. A watt or two at most.

    EDIT: I think I read it wrong, a 100wh internal battery + a 100wh super duper ultra 100wh external battery yields up to 32.x hours of life.
    OK, so 6 watts power draw from the batteries on average. Still, very hard to believe unless your doing absolutely nothing on the machine and screen brightness is way down.

    Wouldn't the screen itself take about that much power if it's at full brightness? My CCFL 15.x" laptop screen takes about 10 watts from the wall (on vs full brightness). LED is supposed to be 40% more efficient or something like that.
  • gti88
    If you read carefully, it says "Up to 32 hours requires HP 9-cell (100 WHr) Li-Ion primary battery, separately purchased HP BB09 Ultra Extended Life Notebook Battery"
  • bennaye
    ^ This is why I never trust the manufacturer's claim on battery life. It's almost always bs and an exaggeration.