It has happened to many a traveler: you're onboard a flight from, say, Vancouver to Montreal, with plans to finish the stack of work tucked into your laptop case.
After all, an airplane is often a great place to be productive, thanks to the absence of nagging colleagues, email and ringing phones - providing, of course, the technology you need is in working order at 30,000 feet.
Sometimes, you barely make it over Edmonton before your computer warns you it's about to 'hibernate' as you're battery power is at just five percent. Now how exactly do you plan to finish that sales report before you land?
Unless the airline you fly has AC power in the seat, you're S.O.L.
Energy management has been a problem since the earliest days of mobile computing. Thanks to more powerful Toshiba laptop batteries and processors with better energy management, it's getting better all the time, though there's still no magic-bullet solution.
But there are some things you can do aside from lugging a spare battery. The following are a few tips for squeezing more juice out of your laptop:
Turn down the brightness of your monitor a great deal as it will help preserve battery life. This can usually be found on your laptop's secondary keyboard commands (such as blue icons that look like little suns) and then manually reducing the brightness. When you're near an electrical outlet again - at home, the office or in a hotel - then crank the brightness back up, if you like. If you're shopping for a new laptop, keep in mind the bigger the laptop screen the faster the battery drain, in most cases.
The Acer laptop battery will drain faster if there's a spinning disc in your optical drive such as a game, music CD or DVD movie. Some games offer you the choice to install it all to the hard drive so choose this option as you'll get more life out of your laptop. Same with music and movies - copy your favourite tunes to the hard drive instead of spinning the CD or use the 'Digital Copy' option on the last Blu-ray or DVD flick you purchased. Needless-to-say, your laptop battery will last much longer in programs with little drain on system resources, such as a word processor.
Make sure you have no devices plugged into the laptop that can be draining its power, such as a webcam, USB thumbstick or headphones. Connected peripherals can be a factor in eating away at its Dell replacement battery life, so get used to the touchpad instead of using an external mouse when you're away from an electrical outlet. Ditto for enabling wireless connectivity, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so be sure these radios are turned off when you don't need them (they should be turned off in an airplane, anyway!).
Windows users can also click on Power Options in the Control Panel to manually reduce the power consumption of your laptop. Some may turn off your monitor when not in use for, say, 3 minutes, but will turn on instantly again when a key is touched. Also, you can also set alarms when the battery is about to die (say, at 5 percent) so you can safely save your information before powering down. Also, per above, if you're in the market for a new laptop, be sure to choose a processor that does well on energy management (do your research) like the Intel Core family.
While not cheap, you might want to consider a better (or second) battery than the one that shipped with your PC. For example, HP laptops typically ship with a regular 6-cell battery that can deliver up to four or so hours of HP laptop battery life, depending on the application. But you can choose to buy an 9-cell battery that can last up to 10 hours on a single charge or a 12-cell Smart Lithium-Ion Ultra-Capacity battery - for just under 16 hours of battery life.