Weekend Crash Course - Tablet PC Battery Care 101

Discussion in 'News Headlines' started by Barry J. Doyle, Jul 8, 2006.

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  1. Barry J. Doyle

    Barry J. Doyle Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    To get the most out of yourTablet PC, one of the highest priorities to consideris battery life.Properly caring foryour battery will keep itrunning to its highest capacity avoiding early replacement and willultimatelysave you money. It is not uncommon for Tablet PC and notebook computer users to innocently kill a battery long before its intended expiration simply by the wayhe or she is "using" it. Well using your battery is OK of course, but with a bit of extra knowledge and care, you just might squeeze out severalmonths to even a year of extra use out of your battery. Our simple guide will tell you how!


    Part I - New Tablet PC = Calibrate Your Battery

    When you purchase a new Tablet PC or notebook it is essential to calibrate and break in your new battery properly. When you first unbox your new machine, the first place it belongs (after installing the battery)is connected to an AC outlet. Even if the battery indicator shows a full or near full charge, it is a good idea to keep the unit plugged in for a minimum of 5-7 hours. After this initial and absolute full charge, unplug it and have your way with it! Drain that battery until you "force it to shut down" (save your work upon the low battery alert). Then proceed to charge it up again to 100% (this time just charge it to "full"). Go ahead and repeat the drain to zero. After 3 full charge and discharge cycles, your battery is ready for the road.

    This process does 2 things. First off, it breaks in your new battery right. Second it calibrates it with your computer to give you a more accurate measurement of charge statusfrom the software's indicator. Over time your battery will slip away from calibration, so it is suggested that you repeat one "full charge" and "discharge" every 3 months. Refer to yourowner's manual if you wish as some manufacturers mayrecommend a slightly different calibration technique. (Get More Time From Your Tablet PC / Notebook Battery - March 2005)


    Part II - How Much Time do I have Doc?

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    Don't let your battery "kick the bucket" before its time!

    A lithium-ion battery (the type that is in your Tablet PC), has a predetermined lifespan based on the specs. under which it is manufactured. Just as the human lifespan can be estimated in an approximate average of "years", the lithium-ion type battery has a lifespan that is based on "charge cycles". A charge cycle is essentially defined as one full charge/discharge of the battery. Most Tablet PC/notebook batteries are rated for between 300-500 charge cycles.Ifyou are a typical "business/student user" anduse your mobile computer through one full charge, 5 days per week, then you can expect your battery to deliver acceptable performance for up to two years. That's right, up to two years of use, but that will only be true IF you take proper care of your battery. (Please note that lithium-ion batteries are limited by shelf life regardless of use - an unused battery will still break down over time).

    There are also "casual users" who perhaps leave their mobile computers "plugged in" the majority of the time. These users might "unplug" once every week or so to go to a meeting or travel. For these users a battery will almost inevitably last two years without much special attention. One reason for this is obvious, a battery that is rarely used will by default hold onto the majority of its capacity. The second reason is simply that the battery will be kept in a climate-conditioned environment along with the computer. However, what if I was to tell you that the casual user could possibly pull off three years? With the right care, this is also possible.

    Okay, on with it! Assuming you have calibrated your battery as described above, you are ready to use your tablet battery as needed. Please note that it is a good idea to recalibrate your battery as often as once a month to keep it in prime working order.


    Part III - Battery Tips to "Save Lives" - Battery Lives Anyway

    Tip 1 - Mind the Temperature

    Summer temperatures here in Arizona reach over 100 degrees on a daily basis. I could easily run my daily errands and leave my tablet in the car (where it can get twice as hot) for an hour or two. BIG MISTAKE. Talk about frying your battery! Keep your battery/computer with you in the air conditioned or heated environment during summer and winter. Heat will kill your battery's lifespan the quickest. Allowing the chemicals in your battery to get extremely cold in the winter, then heat back up during use will alsocontribute to shortening your overall battery life like a rock star shooting smack.

    Other recommended temperature friendly practices include avoiding charging (or running) your computer in its case and elevating your tablet/notebook on a stand to ensure proper ventilation during use. Oh and lets not forget, simply leaving your machine running all day (when not in use) on AC power keeps it warm.Over time this will lead to faster deterioration of the battery.


    Tip 2 - Storage

    Heading to the mountains for a few weeks? Are you one of the lucky few who can leave your electronic anchor behind? To store your battery properly during your trip, simply charge it to about 50% of its capacity. Although it seems like a good idea to leave your battery behind at "full charge", this is not advisable. The long and slow discharge from 100% to zero while you are gone will cause more deterioration to the cells. Upon your return it is a good idea to recalibrate your battery.


    Tip 3 - Charging your Battery

    "Topping off" your battery in anticipation of several hours away from an AC outlet is okay. As a matter of fact its okay to charge your battery from any state/level of discharge to suit your needs. The most important thing to remember in regards to your charging practices is to avoid leaving your battery at 0% charge for longer than 5-7 days. It is a good idea to keep your battery at any level over 10% charge on a regular basis. If you are the "casual user" type we mentioned earlier, and you tend to keep your Tablet PC or notebook plugged in most of the time - it is a good idea to unplug and run your battery down and recharge every 2-4 weeks. This will keep the chemicals inside the battery cells "alive".


    In Summary - Final Thoughts


      Calibrate a new battery[/li]
      Keep your battery away from heat or extreme cold[/li]
      Properly store your battery when unused[/li]
      Charge your battery regularly[/li]
      Recalibrate your battery regularly or as needed


      For more information on battery care (more than you probably want to know), we recommend that visit the expert site by Isidor Buchmann here...


     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
  2. P8RSON

    P8RSON Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
  3. rob1116

    rob1116 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Quite helpful... thanks guys!
     
  4. rob1116

    rob1116 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Question: I should be receiving my T4210 any day now, and the first thing I will do is obviously plug it in for a full charge. My question is, do you think it will make a difference whether or not I use the tablet while it is charging up to 100% for the first time?

    Basically, I want to know if I can plug it in and start playing with it right away, or should I just bite the bullet and wait the "5-7 hours" for the absolute charge... ?
     
  5. P8RSON

    P8RSON Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    It won't matter Rob, it will simply take much longer though to charge fully.

    If you want my opinion, plug it in, read the manual (obtained from either the internet or the supplied CD), make a cup of tea (English I know) and just sit back and wait.....

    I left mine for four hours.

    P.S. A tip to know when it is fully charged.
    1. The battery brick is cold (it's stopped piping energy to the battery).
    2. The LCD indicator on the tablet disappears (yes, it disappears so don't worry like I did, believing the charger had failed to charge the tablet)
     
  6. rob1116

    rob1116 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Four hours without running it? Bah! In that case, I hope it arrives just shortly before I have to go to work, so I can just plug it in and it will be ready when I get back.

    As for reading the manual over a cup of tea (I drink one cup of coffee in the morning, and usually one cup of green tea in the afternoon)... I've already read the manual online, lol. It's all I could do to keep myself from going mad with anticipation!

    Cold battery makes sense. Which LCD indicator goes off? The little up arrow beside the battery level indicator on the little status LCD?
     
  7. P8RSON

    P8RSON Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Yes, the small LCD Panel, bottom left of the tablet.

    One thing I have found which is a bit of a pain.....
    I often leave my tablets/laptops in Hibernation with a simple open the lid to activate Windows.
    If the battery needs charging I normally Hibernate the device, plug in the mains and come back an hour or so later.
    Now..... with other machines, with the lid closed, you can visually see if the tablet is still charging and the colour of the lamps give some indication as to the charge level.
    However, because the T4210 does not have any externally visual battery indicators (unless the lid is open), you have no visual idea if it's still charging or how much further time the device still needs to charge.

    Okay, you can feel the brick to see if it's cold but I would rather have an external indicator to quickly tell me it's finished the charge cycle.
     
  8. BenjaminRies

    BenjaminRies Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Okay I have a question.

    I'm getting the Toshiba Tecra M7 with the slice expansion battery. Should I be charging/discharging BOTH of them together from the start, or should I just focus on calibrating the standard battery only?
     
  9. P8RSON

    P8RSON Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    It won't matter Benjamin, as soon as one battery has been taken care of the other will continue to be treated until it too has performed the task.
     
  10. BenjaminRies

    BenjaminRies Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I'm not sure I follow. When I get my tablet in a few days, it seems like I can either:

    a) charge/discharge the tablet 3 times with both batteries together, in order to calibrate both of them.
    b) charge/discharge the tablet 3 times with just the main batery on its own, and then do (a).

    Now, you're saying that when both batteries are attached, the main battery drains fully and THEN power draw switches to the slice? That isn't consistent with my experience with other circuits, where two batteries will discharge together (at a slower rate than if one was left on its own).

    I was just wondering if there would be any benefit to doing option (b) before moving to (a), versus just doing (a) directly.
     
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