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Average battery life of Powerbook and other questions

by ec1ipse99 / April 15, 2005 6:01 AM PDT

I've had my Powerbook for a couple months now, but I'm pretty sure that my battery does not last the 4.5 hours that Apple advertises on their website. I have a 15" Powerbook G4 that I usually run off the charger until its time to be plugged in again. Does anyone know if this is a standard problem?

Also since I'm new to the Mac world, how often do you recommend upgrading their software (ie. iLife '05 and Tiger)?

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How I get more time (all machines.)
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 15, 2005 6:22 AM PDT

1. Dim the screen as much as I can.

2. Turn off Wifi if I don't need it.

3. If there is a battery saving slower CPU setting, I use it.

4. The 4.5 hours is something like gas mileage on your car but worse. The minutes will decrease with usage until you need to replace the battery. This is about 500 charges and it's toast.


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by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / April 15, 2005 6:44 AM PDT

Bob has covered the battery but here is a quick tip from Apple. About once a month, run the machine on the battery until it starts complaining that the battery is too low to run the machine. Recharge and then use the machine as you normally would. This, apparently, keeps the electrons flowing and will help delay the onset of "toast". So on with the software side of your question.
You should run the Software Update program on a weekly basis and accept ALL the updates that are available. Those updates that you do not require can be set to be ignored by your machine and will not show up in the list.
Upgrade to Tiger and you will get the updated iLife suite at the same time. Both the iLife and Tiger updates are worth it.


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by ec1ipse99 / April 20, 2005 6:34 AM PDT
In reply to: Software

Is it true that leaving a fully charged laptop plugged in during use, kill the battery faster (same with other electronics)?

Thats the only reason I keep using the computer until it is near empty before I recharge. Besides, it is a laptop so it should be portable and not always plugged in.

Thanks for the help everyone!

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In old designs yes. And why this is the stuff of legend.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 20, 2005 7:13 AM PDT
In reply to: ...?

Even today some low priced devices will kill the battery if left plugged in, but Apple never made such a design.


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Battery life
by Marie Buteau / May 10, 2005 4:16 AM PDT

I have the G4 17" PB and was told that at least once a month to drain the battery until the screen goes black. I get about 3+ hours when I am doing a lot of graphic stuff. It last longer if I am doing simple things like email or reading news. My old g3 battery lasted 4 years and was still going but the PB crashed. Unfixable. I would get about 2 hours battery life out of it.

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How to kill a LiOn battery in one trip.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 15, 2005 6:58 AM PDT

Put your LiOn battery equipped device into you checked luggage. The luggage area will zoom to some -30 or lower degrees during the flight and kill the LiOn battery.

-> Do not subject these batteries to below freezing temperatures.


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iLife '05 - freezing batteries!!! Hmm suspect...
by jon_kemp33 / April 18, 2005 11:01 AM PDT

Tiger and i Life - iLife '05 will not be packaged with Tiger - it is a totally seperate app - you only get that when you buy a new mac.

As for the flying thing... I don't know who you are flying with, but if it fell to minus 30 - I presume you mean celcius. Then you would need to worry about more than just your powerbook. The battery can actually take a -10C beating - significantly lower than the animals they put in the same cargo area... That would by no means be toast!!!
The fully charging and discharging thing is true though, works with most other batteries in the world too (the rechargable ones anyway).

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My mistake
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / April 18, 2005 9:50 PM PDT

iLife is not included in Tiger, I was confusing it with the purchase of a new Mac, with Tiger. My Bad.
On the flying thing. That thought had occurred to me also. Think of all the aerosol cans doing there thing at -30.


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More about the flight...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 19, 2005 1:04 AM PDT
In reply to: My mistake

Think ... Ottawa, December and that little 20 passenger puddle jumper. They rightfully do not put animals down there.


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Yeah, about that
by jon_kemp33 / April 20, 2005 7:55 AM PDT

Um, that would be a small plane, different from the a regualar jet aircraft. In a normal jet plane, the only place that is exposed to the extremes of pressure and temprature is the landing gear... that would be different from the cargo bay, which is gerenally kept at ground pressure.

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Cold Cargo Compartments, Only a Memory!
by LundquistP / May 13, 2005 2:20 AM PDT

Dear Bob,
You must be thinking about the old DC 3 trips you took back in the sixties.
Modern airplanes all have cargo compartments that are heated, and temperatures rarely drop below 55 to 60 degrees.


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See the followup. It read...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / May 13, 2005 2:23 AM PDT

Think ... Ottawa, December and that little 20 passenger puddle jumper. They rightfully do not put animals down there.


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Laptop batteries...ruh roh!
by auntetr / April 22, 2005 1:42 AM PDT

I can't say for certain, but you mentioned that you run it off the charger...NO! NO! NO! Do not run your laptop on a charger unless you can remove the battery!
You will "Kill" the battery doing this! It was designed to run off the battery and plugging it in to run it can cause overheating of the battery long-term.

No one told me when I bought my laptop and after six months it could no longer run off the battery. I could not replace it at over $100. at the time, and now, even if I cared to, I probably can't get the battery. It was a $2,500 laptop then, worth $10. on e-bay (if that) now.

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Very odd.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / April 22, 2005 1:44 AM PDT

My laptop at the office sat there for 2 years on the AC power and the battery still worked fine when I hit the road.

What laptop did you get that killed the battery?


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Shouldn't happen
by jon_kemp33 / April 22, 2005 2:08 AM PDT
In reply to: Very odd.

I think that is an old problem, the equipment nower days cuts the power to the batttery, so that power is not being forced in. It has the same effect as disconnecting your battery from the power supply.

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One wonders
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / April 22, 2005 9:49 AM PDT

why you did not go back to the manufacturer of this $2500 laptop and obtain a replacement battery under warranty. Could it be that it was not an Apple computer?
If it was, I would be happy to send you $15.00 for it and I would even pay the freight.


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My PBook Experiences...
by prodesma / April 22, 2005 5:09 AM PDT

Hi Eclipse and all.
I got the titanium PBook 1GHz in Dec 2002 when they were in their first WEEKS of production. I have 2 batteries and ALWAYS leave one in my laptop to charge. I do not run off batteries so much these days as I use it mostly as my desktop machine.

Every so often, I will switch the batteries (like 5-7 weeks) so that both are always fully charged in case I'm on the road.

I get almost 4 hours usually on each battery. If you are VERY fast and changing the battery, you can actually do it without any power loss (meaning you don't need to do a re-start when not plugged in). If I'm watching a dvd on batt. power, I get less than 75 minutes, ALWAYS.

Since I upgraded my hard drive to a TravelStar 60GB 5400 RPM, I probably have only lost 10-15 minutes of battery time (for fan operation mostly).

Best advice: turn contrast to lower, use energy saver settings in System Preferences (for Monitor/Displays), and set disk sleep separate from display sleep to best meet your needs.

I personally cannot say that software will alter battery performance. I still run 10.2.8. I don't trust many of the software updates, only beause my system is ALREADY working, so why mess with it.

Tiger is quickly becoming the new standard. More app's (especially browsers) are forcing me forward. gmail and google maps (for example) cannot be supported with my IE, without upgrading to Panther (10.3+). Same with Safari. Only Firefox can run these two on 10.2.8.

Careful though, some app's may be slower adjusting to the upgrade curve. Like Abeton Live and Reason. It's best to make sure you know your needs will be met BEFORE you upgrade your OS. If you have iLife, there are few reasons to upgrade quickly. Generally 1-2 years and there are more justifications (better functionality of iPhoto, more preferences in iCal, better transfer features in Address Book). Your call.


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Your mileage may vary...
by lampietheclown / April 22, 2005 4:28 PM PDT

Like someone else said, it's like the epa sticker on a new car. I drive way faster than that.
Back to batterys. If you dim your screen, spin down the hard drive, reduce processer performance (energy saver options), and type slow, You might make it. If you turn the screen up bright, and watch a DVD while compressing a movie, you drive like I do.

I own a Wallstreet 266, a 15" G4 667, and a 15" 1G . I travel quite a bit, and carry 3 batteries.
Since I don't know what you are using your laptop for it's hard to compare my experience to yours, but one thing most people have in common is watching movies. On either of the G4 Powerbooks, I can get through a DVD without a battery swap (with the screen dimmed) on a good day, but I don't count on it. If I copy the DVD to my hard drive, and play it from there, I've got battery left over. That works even if I'm on battery durring the copy session. The hard drive uses way less power than the DVD drive.

I've never lost a battery to the cold, but that might just be luck. Any one from Canada, or better yet, Alaska here? What happens in winter if you order a laptop or battery by regular ground shipping?

A properly working powerbook will not over charge the battery, and in fact may leave the battery alone even though it is not full. Here's what Apple has to say about it on their web site.

Some PowerBook G4 and iBook computers may not show the battery as 100 percent charged in Mac OS X, even when the power adapter is plugged in. The battery appears to stop charging between 95 percent and 99 percent.
This is normal. The batteries used in these computers are designed to avoid short discharge/charge cycles in order to prolong the overall life of the battery. Because of this, when setting the Mac OS X battery status menu bar icon to display charge state by percentage, you may notice that the reported charge stays between 95 percent and 99 percent. When the battery level eventually drops below 95 percent, it will charge all the way to 100 percent.

Here's a link to the Powerbook G4 support page at Apple, It has a section on batteries that should answer you pretty well.

As for software updates, it's a personal thing, but I always wait a week after they come out, and then download them. I got caught once by downloading an update within hours of Apple posting it. Apple pulled it back when they found it had serious problems, about 3 hours after I installed it. It was an OS 9 thing, years ago, but I learned my lesson.
As for upgrading to the next number, and paying for it? Your mileage may vary...

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15" Powerbook G4 Battery life
by benji4benji / April 26, 2005 3:27 AM PDT

Please check the Energy Saver in the System Preferences - it may be set to "Performance" rather than an Energy saving setting - your processor will use more battery. Do you have apps. running in the background? Do you have a CD/ DVD in the drive?
It is important - the first time you open a new laptop to drain the battery ( right upto the forced sleep! ) and then charge it for 20 hours.
Hope these basic steps help you with your battery.
"Tiger" does have, among it many features, a better battery management, have to check it out when released end of this month.

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Battery, Tiger and iLife
by winotwo / May 3, 2005 2:45 AM PDT

I have had my 1 Ghz Powerbook for almost three years with the original battery and still get about 2 + hours when writing papers, surfing the net etc. I have a spare and keep it charged. I usually have it plugged in overnight to recharge as I have WiFi and surf throughout the house until battery beeps at me. And it has been a far cry better than the Dell I had that was lasting an hour if I was lucky after less than a year.

As for Tiger and iLife '05, there is a trial version of iLife that ships with Tiger. I have been extremely happy with the upgrade so far. The RSS feed in Safari, widgets, automator, and best of all spotlight, have been well worth the upgrade, especially if you qualify for education discount, $69 vs. $129.

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