Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Portables Power Hardware

Sony Pledges More Accurate Laptop Battery Figures 185

Posted by timothy
from the trust-but-verify dept.
Slatterz writes "Ever wondered why you never get the 10 hours of battery life advertised with your new ultraportable? Battery life ratings have been a joke for years, so it's interesting to hear that one big vendor is picking up its game. PC Authority says Sony is abandoning the usual (and wildly misleading) JEITA method for coming up with those 10+ hour battery numbers (they're still using JEITA, but not the usual way). Interestingly, the story has links showing the old and new steps Sony takes to come up with those battery predictions. It's good to see the industry coming clean on this issue."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sony Pledges More Accurate Laptop Battery Figures

Comments Filter:
  • by Swizec (978239) on Monday September 08, 2008 @03:21AM (#24917125) Homepage
    Just wondering here, how would a move like this affect marketing of computers? The previous model had an up to 10 hour battery life, the new ultra better omgwtfbbq more magnificent version has "Up to 4, but we're not lying to you this time!"

    Somehow I just don't see that faring well with Joe Average ...
    • by evilviper (135110) on Monday September 08, 2008 @04:15AM (#24917343) Journal

      Just wondering here, how would a move like this affect marketing of computers?

      They'll leave the old 10 HOURS figure, in huge numbers on the packaging. Then have an asterisks, and a tiny footnote that says "TYPICAL BATTERY LIFE: 4 hours".

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Nymz (905908)

      Somehow I just don't see that faring well with Joe Average ...

      On the contrary, it's probably going over quite well since the likely reason for the change was customer complaints. Why, I alone have told them a MILLION times that people shouldn't exaggerate so much.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Somehow I just don't see that faring well with Joe Average ...

      Joe Average is indeed in a market for lemons. But you find that very often, when buying something like a laptop, he might try and ask for advice from Average Slashdotter.

      Most people know at least one geek. Most Slashdotters are probably their friends' and extended families' "go to guy", for tech issues. And lets not forget IT departments and professional buyers, etc. Every geek knows battery lives are 1-1.5 hours for laptops everywhere, and if th

      • I get more than 1.5 hours out of my MBP pretty easily. Of course to do that I often have the screen brightness right down, or just no backlight at all if I'm only using it to listen to music.

        I could probably watch a whole DVD if I tried. If I was playing a heavy 3D game then I probably wouldn't even get an hour though, as it would have the CPU and GPU at full tilt, with the fans ablazin'.

        So I wouldn't see battery claims of 4-6 hours as suspect, especially on an EEE PC or a little VAIO, but 10 does seem a bi

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          I could easily watch a full length movie on my mbp using battery, especially if its copied to the hard drive rather than having to keep the dvd reader spinning...
          Unless your watching HD quality movies, the CPU will be running at just a couple of percent of one core, so the system will clock it down to the lowest rate it supports, and the GPU won't be doing much either. Most of the power will be drawn by the screen, and the newer ones with lcd backlights seem to draw somewhat less power here too.

        • A EEE Pc can hold at 3 hours without problem, probably 4 if you turn the screen off. 6 hours is really optimistic though.
          • by Zerth (26112)

            The 1000 SSD version, since it was specced to handle hard disk needs of the 1000HD, is supposed to get nearly 8 with everything turned down.

            But all the others get 3-4.

            What really bites, the 701 series drains 5% of the battery a day when off, unless you remove the damn battery. But with the backlight down and the wireless turned off, it'll last a flight from Vegas to Charlotte.

      • I can get 2.5 hours out of my Asus M51E pretty damn easily even with the backlight turned up and fairly steady CPU and HD activity.

      • Except for when they ask for your advice they imeadeatly dismiss it as you are the tech guy and they will never need something like that. Then when it turns out they bought a Peace of Crap they get mad at you for not pushing them harder to get the good brand.

        6 years ago...
        Guy: What would you recommend.
        Me: I would go with Dell. They have better track record for relabaility over Gateway. Yes about 5 years ago Gateway did make a good product but its quality has dropped sense then.

        2 years later...
        Guy: Dude thi

    • by dotancohen (1015143) on Monday September 08, 2008 @06:00AM (#24917725) Homepage

      Just wondering here, how would a move like this affect marketing of computers? The previous model had an up to 10 hour battery life, the new ultra better omgwtfbbq more magnificent version has "Up to 4, but we're not lying to you this time!

      The new figure is time to 0% power. The old figure was time to explosion.

    • On the one hand their competitors will quote the old-style battery lives so SONY will look bad.

      On the other, people will be suing them if they don't get every last second of battery life claimed under the new rules

      (See, eg., the class-action suits against HD manufacturers for selling Gb instead of GiB...)

      Add to this the fact that batteries lose capacity over time (whether you use them or not) and, no, it's not gonna happen.

      • by Blkdeath (530393)

        On the one hand their competitors will quote the old-style battery lives so SONY will look bad.

        On the other, people will be suing them if they don't get every last second of battery life claimed under the new rules

        (See, eg., the class-action suits against HD manufacturers for selling Gb instead of GiB...)

        Add to this the fact that batteries lose capacity over time (whether you use them or not) and, no, it's not gonna happen.

        The problem is people will sue no matter what if they feel they can gain some kind of windfall out of the deal. Look at posted fuel economies of cars. People blame manufacturers but the ratings come from the government's official testing centre (here in Canada, anyways). Everybody knows hard drives are measured in millions and billions of bytes and operating systems report in base-2 but that's the way it's always been ever since I was purchasing 20 and 40 MEG hard drives. Tough cookies. Cigarettes kill. Any

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by antic (29198)

      "It's good to see the industry coming clean on this issue."

      That should be:

      "It's good to see a publication suggest that one player within an industry is slightly tweaking their method of measuring this issue."

  • by pieterh (196118) on Monday September 08, 2008 @03:28AM (#24917137) Homepage

    Properly, we should be told the capacity of the battery and the consumption of the machine at highest and lowest levels.

    For example, my Lenovo X61 gets between 4 and 8 hours on its large battery. The difference comes from how I tune the machine.

    At least for laptops using Intel chipsets and Linux, powertop makes it very easy to measure battery life, and (more importantly) tune it. I get my 8 hours by by switching off the wifi, usb ports, killing programs that do too many interrupts, turning down the brightness, etc. Powertop shows exactly how many watts the machine is using. The battery has about 70 watt/hours so when I get it down to 9 watts, that gives me about 8 hours.

    • by evilviper (135110) on Monday September 08, 2008 @04:13AM (#24917327) Journal

      Properly, we should be told the capacity of the battery and the consumption of the machine at highest and lowest levels.

      You still have the same problem. Now you're simply moving the problem from calculating "battery life" to calculating "power consumption", and leaving consumers with an extra bit of math to do...

      "Lowest" power consumption is tricky, because you've now got to define what parts of the machine have to be functional in this minimal state. ie. You'd get a huge boost in battery life if you shut off the LCD screen, backlight, and graphics chip.

      Maximum isn't exactly easy, either... Does this include external devices drawing their power from the laptop ports? USB, Firewire, speakers, mouse, etc., it's pretty easy to drive the power consumption WAY up, with a few ridiculously power-hungry external devices.

      Battery capacity is pretty trivial, and is already notated on nearly every battery I've ever seen.

      • by pieterh (196118)

        So, here's a very simple, useful standardized measurement:

        1. Capacity of battery in mAh, when new, after 6 months, and after 12 months.
        2. Power consumption of machine when doing video playback with screen set to 75% brightness, and all ports and networks enabled ("high").
        3. Power consumption of machine when surfing the web, with screen at 50%, and wifi enabled ("medium").
        4. Power consumption of machine when doing word processing with screen set to minimum brightness (not off!), and all ports and networks di

        • by evilviper (135110)

          So, here's a very simple, useful standardized measurement:

          The devil is in the details.

          1. Capacity of battery in mAh, when new, after 6 months, and after 12 months.

          You want WATTS, not just Amps, or else they can just halve the voltage and double the amps, with a trivial change to the battery pack.

          Battery capacity over time varies SUBSTANTIALLY based on what level of charge is maintained over that period of time, and how many charge/discharge cycles it goes through. With certain types of batteries, how quick

      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday September 08, 2008 @07:56AM (#24918511) Journal

        "Lowest" power consumption is tricky, because you've now got to define what parts of the machine have to be functional in this minimal state. ie. You'd get a huge boost in battery life if you shut off the LCD screen, backlight, and graphics chip.

        Sony's new "JEITA A"
        http://www.sony-asia.com/support/faq/272659 [sony-asia.com]

        1. No screensaver
        2. VAIO Long Battery Life Wall Paper
        3. Mute volume
        4. Turn off wifi
        5. Exit VAIO Smart Network
        6. Turn off Windows automatic updates
        7. Close Windows Sidebar
        8. Start the system in the STAMINA mode [you can do it without restarting]
        9. Close the Welcome Center
        10. Close the Prepare your VAIO
        11. Do NOT run the initial settings of McAfee Security Center

        Power Plan
        1. Set to Maximum Battery
        2. Never sleep/hibernate/turn off display
        3. Set graphics to 16 bit
        4. Disable Memory Card Slot
        5. Set Refresh Rate to 40Hz
        6. Set LCD brightness to 28%

        No offense but that's fucking ridiculous.
        Nobody would ever realistically use their computer in that fashion.

    • I hate to ask, but is there such a tool for windows? It'd be really handy, since I'm stuck on it...
    • by AncientPC (951874)

      There is an Intel Google gadget [intel.com] for detailing current laptop watt usage. There probably is a standalone application that does the same thing from Intel.

  • by oodaloop (1229816) on Monday September 08, 2008 @03:34AM (#24917165)
    I have a Sony Vaio UX280 micro pc with an expanded battery, both bought 1.5 years ago. Not only did neither battery live up to their advertised battery life (3 hours standby for the orginal, 9 for the expanded), but now they are closer to 30 min and 45 min. I haven't let them run down to zero and time them, but they fall so fast after unplugging it I get my business done and shut it down. It's to the point now that I need another extended battery, but at $349 I might as well buy an Eee or similar netbook instead. Needless to say (but I'm obviously saying it anyway), if I knew the batteries didn't have the advertised life and were going to die so quickly, I would never have bought them.
    • I hate DELLs, but they do have cheap replacement batteries. So if your Dell makes it past battery replacement then it's going to be cheap to buy a new one.

      Unofficial batteries are often half the price though, or you can refurbish by putting in new Cells in an old enclosure.

      • by oodaloop (1229816)
        The Dell mini with Ubuntu is one I'm considering. I'm interested in checking out the Netbook Remix, if indeed that's what it ships with. I'll have to look into the battery cost. Thanks.
    • Buy the car adapter, and get a lead-acid gel cell at a ham-fest. You can get these in many sizes to suit your needs, and they're much cheaper (although also much heavier) than the blessed batteries. You might want to pick up a backpack to carry it around in.

      • by oodaloop (1229816)
        Assuming you're not being sarcastic, getting a backpack to carry around a heavy battery would sort of defeat the purpose of having such a tiny portable micro pc, no?
    • by AncientPC (951874)

      1) Laptop batteries are horribly expensive right now because of a cell shortage in the market.

      2) If they really are lasting 30m to 45m after 18 months, you can probably get them replaced under warranty.

  • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Monday September 08, 2008 @03:35AM (#24917169) Homepage

    From TFA,

    The old testing method: A picture showing a naked man stretching his anus to a large and disproportionate size. The Sony employee reaches into the anus and pulls out the battery figures.

    The new method involves running the laptop until the battery is exhausted and timing the result.

    • by kramulous (977841) *
      You realise that history dictates that you're meant to post as anonymous, right? An accompanied link or ascii images of description to be supplied also. But a nice twist, I'll grant you.
  • by clickety6 (141178) on Monday September 08, 2008 @03:40AM (#24917185)

    Average time before battery goes flat under normal usage: 1 minute more than figures quoted by Dell

    Average time before battery goes flat under Vista: 8 hours (i.e. during startup process)

    Average time before battery goes flat watching DVD: length of film - 10 minutes

    Average time before battery goes flat using Office: Fails during write process of important presentation

    Average time before battery explodes into flame: 7 hours 32 minutes

    Average time before stored spare battery goes flat: 5 seconds after it was last tested

    Average time before battery goes flat under Linux:
    Never. It is constantly recharged by sucking energy from the superior mind of the user

  • Prime 95 use (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nickswitzer (1352967)
    They should start the computer up, leave it unplugged, and run prime 95 or some other resource maximizing program to see it's potential. Then do one that does it at around 50% then idle, etc. And do this and average them, or something of the sort. I do agree with the first comment though, marketing the batteries will be weird unless there is news coverage to the general public about the new method of time calculations.
    • How about totalling up the maximum power consumption of the parts, working out how long it runs at that and doing "battery life: min-max*", where max is the old number?
      "*: With a new battery. Battery life degrades over time so these won't be accurate in a year."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2008 @03:50AM (#24917219)

    built in the 1980s.

    It runs for approx 2 weeks continuously, on 4 AA rechargables, and I just dump my notes as a .txt file to my desktop.

    If people made a more sophisticated version, with network capability and OpenOffice formatting, I'd buy it like a shot. Modern batteries would also run it for months.....

  • by jeroen94704 (542819) on Monday September 08, 2008 @04:17AM (#24917353)
    Now all we need is for HD manufacturers to stop defining "Gigabyte" as "1 billion bytes", so my 160 GB drive is actually 160 GB (171 billion bytes), and not 149 GB (160 billion bytes).
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Monday September 08, 2008 @04:40AM (#24917445)
      Now all we need is for HD manufacturers to stop defining "Gigabyte" as "1 billion bytes", so my 160 GB drive is actually 160 GB (171 billion bytes), and not 149 GB (160 billion bytes).

      Or alternatively we need RAM manufacturers to stop defining 'gigabyte' as '1,073,741,824 bytes'. If they must insist on using a power of 1,024, then they can pick a different word for it, that doesn't conflict with the usage of the 'giga' prefix to mean 'x10^9' in every other field in the world. May I suggest 'gibibyte'?

      • Or alternatively we need RAM manufacturers to stop defining 'gigabyte' as '1,073,741,824 bytes'.

        It's not RAM manufacturers, it's the whole computer industry... and for a good reason, that being that computers haven't used decimal arithmetic since COBOL was new and sexy.

        Nobody uses 'GiB'. It was a fad, and it's a dead fad. And in any case it should be 'Gio'... the 8-bit-byte is actually LESS of a standard than the 2^30 octet Go.

        • Re:Gibibyte is dead. (Score:5, Informative)

          by meringuoid (568297) on Monday September 08, 2008 @05:47AM (#24917683)
          It's not RAM manufacturers, it's the whole computer industry...

          It's clearly not the whole computer industry, though, is it? Otherwise we wouldn't be having this discussion in the first place. Some parts of the computer industry call a gigabyte 1,000,000,000 bytes, other parts call a gigabyte 1,073,741,824 bytes. One of these standards is consistent with the usage of 'giga' in all other scientific and technical fields, while the other is unique to computer science. To my mind, calling 1,024 bytes a 'kilobyte' was just about acceptable, since the difference wasn't so great and 'kilo' was a convenient shorthand. But calling 1,073,741,824 bytes a 'gigabyte' is really pushing it, and now we're starting to build terabyte drives and it's getting ridiculous. If you want to use substantially different multipliers from the standard, don't use SI prefixes for them. Make up your own unit names.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Bert64 (520050)

            Drive manufacturers do that to make their product sound better than it really is, it's all marketing.
            You may not like it, but kilo and giga have always had such values in computing because computers operate using binary, 10 binary bits gives 1024 possible values. It would be quite ridiculous to use 1000 and whatever nasty kludges were necessary to achieve that.

          • To my mind, calling 1,024 bytes a 'kilobyte' was just about acceptable, since the difference wasn't so great and 'kilo' was a convenient shorthand. But calling 1,073,741,824 bytes a 'gigabyte' is really pushing it,

            Why? If you have a 100 GB drive, and you have 90GB of files to put into it, you can't tell whether those files will fit unless you know the file system you're putting them into, how many files you have, how the file sizes are distributed, because the file system overhead on those files can be more

        • It's not RAM manufacturers, it's the whole computer industry...

          No, it isn't. Kilo (k) means "multiplied by one thousand", Mega (M) means "multiplied by one million", and so on. The prefix is part of the SI and means the same in every field of science and engineering. It's only (some) software and RAM manufacturers that get it wrong, basically because they decided 1024 was "close enough" to 1000 to be called "kilo", and then the error added up when using bigger values.

          Hard disks use the correct factor, and so do network connections, most optical discs, streaming video b

        • by timster (32400)

          Why do I give a crap about what kind of arithmetic the COMPUTER uses?

          Come on, people! Revolt against the RAM/ROM manufacturers and their crazy standard. Storage and networking speeds have long been done in decimal.

          The reason? Prefixes like "mega", "giga", etc aren't FOR the damn computer! They exist for the convenience of us poor numerically-challenged humans who have to operate the thing.

          They're for when I see a directory listing

          3437289432 somefile.dat

          I can say "oh, somefile.dat is about 3.4 GB". The

          • Why do I give a crap about what kind of arithmetic the COMPUTER uses?

            Because the only time it matters whether it's 2^30 bytes or 10^9 bytes is when you're doing something that really truly does matter to the computer.

            I can say "oh, somefile.dat is about 3.4 GB".

            Which is still useless information, because your file system overhead on that file may be anything from 1% to over 10% depending on the file system. If it's in a bunch of small files, it's even worse... the file system overhead on a directory tree ca

      • Well they don't use powers of 1024 but powers of 2. ;)
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by samson13 (1311981)

          Well they don't use powers of 1024 but powers of 2. ;)

          Ummm. They do use powers of 1024 because they want to match the SI prefixes reasonably closely.

          1024 is used because it is a power of two making the SI approximations powers of two.

          1 B = 1024^0
          1 KiB = 1024^1
          1 MiB = 1024^2
          1 GiB = 1024^3 and on.

          • Oh...that makes sense sort of. My bad.
          • by Hyppy (74366)

            Ummm. They do use powers of 1024 because they want to match the SI prefixes reasonably closely.

            And here I was thinking that 1024 was just 2^10.

            Thanks for clearing that up for me.

    • by asc99c (938635) on Monday September 08, 2008 @05:00AM (#24917509) Homepage

      Hard disc manufacturers are in the right though - mega means million, giga means billion, tera means trillion. It's the world of computers with their binary-derived values that are wrong.

      This has already been discussed in great detail, and the decision was that a binary gigabyte (2^30 bytes instead of the decimal 10^9) should be called a gibibyte (GiB).

      2^10 bytes (1024) is a Kibibyte (KiB)
      2^20 bytes is a Mibibyte (MiB)
      2^40 bytes is a Tibibyte (TiB)

      There are even a few people who took notice of the decision and switched usage.

      • It's the world of computers with their binary-derived values that are wrong.

        It's computers with their binary values that are wrong.

        There. Fi-fixed that for you.

        Be sure to tell your computer that a decision has been made.

      • by Kingrames (858416)
        Heretic!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Now all we need is for HD manufacturers to stop defining "Gigabyte" as "1 billion bytes"

      But Giga does mean 1 billion. Why on earth do some people in IT believe they can define a unit prefix differently to the rest of the scientific world?

      It was an acceptably lazy hack back when the difference between 1024 (2^10) & 1000 was negligible, but now units of 2^30 are common, we're starting to the consequences of such laziness.

      Its not going to be long before units of 2^100 are common. I don't know about you, bu

      • by hankwang (413283) *

        Its not going to be long before units of 2^100 are common.

        What are you smoking? We're at 2^40 (1 TiB) now, with Moore's law it would take 60 times 18 months, or 90 years before you're at 2^100. And that is if Moore's law continues to work that long. If you somehow manage to use one electron to store a bit, you need 9 kg of electrons, not to mention about 32 metric tons of accompanying protons and neutrons.

  • by GrpA (691294) on Monday September 08, 2008 @04:24AM (#24917377)

    I find it very hard to imagine Sony doing anything altruistic at all. They are to Hardware what Microsoft is to Software.

    So I'm wondering what's in it for them. Do they have some kind of new technology that when measured by the second method only, looks much better for them? Or perhaps their min-power usage number is the same as the movie-play version...

    I'm only guessing, but I can't imagine Sony would be doing this just for the benefit of consumers, if they didn't get something out of it, since other manufacturers will still be using the old method of measuring this.

    GrpA

  • no lying? (Score:5, Funny)

    by rarel (697734) on Monday September 08, 2008 @04:36AM (#24917435) Homepage
    So they will give the expected yield of their batteries in kilotonnes now? Right?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by asc99c (938635)

      They will run the battery realistically but give the answer in crazy units - 5.7x10^-7 millennia. And in case you want to just check the capacity of the battery, that's 550 liter-atmospheres.

  • by Candid88 (1292486) on Monday September 08, 2008 @05:04AM (#24917523)

    There would simply be no point in selling laptops with more than 2 days battery life anymore, in 2 days time we'll all be dead anyway (or sucked into a parrallel universe to experience a fate even worse than death!)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider [wikipedia.org]

  • They'd make laptops that don't die after a year of normal use. I speant about $2K on a Viao AR-260 early last year. It only rarely left my apartment and was never dropped or abused. About 2 months after the 1 year warrenty expres, it just dies. Won't even power on.
  • 1) Take 5 laptops with 5 batteries.
    2) Take 5 Stop watches.

    I'm going to stop here, because quite frankly, if you haven't figured out where this is going then you're on the wrong website. Maybe this [bbc.co.uk] is more your thing?
  • Sony? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert@slaSLACKWAR ... com minus distro> on Monday September 08, 2008 @06:17AM (#24917791) Homepage

    So do their figures represent "how long the battery will last before it runs out of power" or "how long the battery will last before it catches fire" ?

  • My Panasonic Let's Note (CF-R5 [panasonic.jp]) actually gets the 11 hours it claims on the standard battery (well, down to about 8 or 9 after a couple years of usage, but hey, it'll still last most of a transoceanic flight). Maybe they have more standardized testing methods here in Japan?

    Amusing side note: the next model [panasonic.jp] in the same line came with Vista, and only got 8 hours...

    • Oooh. One of those sweet Japanese net-books from before the net-book.

      I got over that strange sense of manga-inspired culture-envy/regret years ago, but I'll tell you, I still get pangs of 'gaijin' when I happen across one of those beauties. That's some serious tech-cred, dude!

      -FL

  • I've seen several reputable review sites doing the same thing. "We'll charge the battery, sit the system over here doing *ABSOLUTELY NOTHING*, time how long the battery lasts, and report the result as INSANE!!!!!"

    http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=4569 [notebookreview.com] (quickest example)

    Of course, as soon as you run a DVD Run-Time test, or an actual "real-use" battery test (Like Batterymark or MobileMark) you may see battery times that are an hour better than laptops from 2 years ago. An improvement? Yes.

  • that batteries may quietly become the toner-cartridge of the laptop?

    -FL

  • If Sony is actually going to change their ratings it's out of fear of a class action lawsuit or the result of a class action lawsuit. In the age of the Bush administration and the GOP's effort to eliminate the FTC, truth in advertising is now only the result of lawsuits.

    You would think the GOP would be in favor of more regulation about truth in advertising as it would clearly reduce lawsuits. Instead they want to eliminate truth and lawsuits. The GOP clearly supports quackery.

  • ( Expected Time To Combust )

  • The new battery spec & format spec for batteries with proper ratings is laptop "live". Current batteries will be upgradable to laptop "live" when the 9 laptop live implementors at Pioneer finally pass their certification.

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow

Working...