How lame is lithium ion? Don't get me started

If my laptop drops dead one more time because the battery's out of juice, I may go postal. But a start-up named ZPower says it has the answer. Let's hope so.

The last time I flew out of San Francisco, my laptop battery conked out as we passed Salt Lake City. Considering how I was stuck in cattle class with no chance to recharge the unit, I closed the computer in disgust and proceeded to slip into a deep sleep.

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If my laptop drops dead one more time because the battery's out of juice, I may go postal. I know. There are worse things in life. But how lame is lithium ion? I'm sure that my frustration's not unique. Many (most?) of you have surely engaged in the same frantic race against the clock, typing furiously as the computer's battery icon wastes down to empty. And Murphy's Law being what it is, there doubtless was not an electrical unit in the same time zone.

Of course, some laptops are better at power management than others. Still, three hours, maximum, is about the best you can hope for. That's no bargain. But such is life in the lithium-ion era.

Now a start-up called ZPower says it's come up with a battery technology breakthrough which it claims will result in 40 percent longer laptop life than lithium-ion on a single charge. The company says it has struck a deal with "one of the major" PC makers to use its silver-zinc batteries in a notebook line slated for 2009. The CEO, Ross Dueber, declined to get more specific than that.

I don't know if ZPower has the best answer, but speaking for the laptop shleppers of the world, I wish him well in his quest. Commercial lithium-ion batteries have been around since 1991, courtesy of Sony and an upgrade would be very welcome. Earlier in the week I spoke with Dueber, who was in town for Intel's big developer shindig. Check out what he had to say in this video interview we shot together.

 

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