My new laptop – with a really nice battery option

April 9, 2010

It was about time I got a new laptop, and so I made a phone-call to Dell to discuss my options. I decided not to get an SSD from them, because I’d rather choose one myself – the sales guy tells me that changing the HD doesn’t void my warranty, so that’s good (incidentally, I’d love to hear people’s recommendations for which SSD to get for my laptop). Unfortunately this machine only has one HD slot, but I figure that I’ll put lots of stuff onto external disks anyway.

The machine I got was a Dell Studio XPS 16. It’s red (which suits my company), but also has the Intel® Core™ i7-820QM Processor, which is 4 Cores/8 Threads. Makes for a pretty Task Manager, but nothing like the one I saw at SQLBits last year (at 96 cores), or the one that my good friend James Rowland-Jones writes about here.

imageBut the reason for this post is actually something in the software that comes with the machine – you know, the stuff that most people uninstall at the earliest opportunity. I had just reinstalled the operating system, and was going through the utilities to get the drivers up-to-date, when I noticed that one of Dell applications included an option to disable battery charging. So I installed it. And sure enough, I can tell the battery not to charge now.

Clearly Dell see it as a temporary option, and one that’s designed for when you’re on a plane. But for me, I most often use my laptop with the power plugged in, which means I don’t need to have my battery continually topping itself up. So I really love this option, but I feel like it could go a little further. I’d like “Not Charging” to be the default option, and let me set it when I want to charge it (which should theoretically make my battery last longer). I also intend to work out how this option works, so that I can script it and put it into my StartUp options (so it can be the Default setting). Actually – if someone has already worked this out and can tell me what it does, then please feel free to let me know.

Even better would be an external switch. I had a switch on my old laptop (a Dell Latitude) for WiFi, so that I could turn that off before I turned on the computer (this laptop doesn’t give me that option – no physical switch for flight mode). I guess it just means I’ll get used to leaving the WiFi off by default, and turning it on when I want it – might save myself some battery power that way too.

Soon I’ll need to take the plunge and sync my iPhone with the new laptop. I’m a little worried that I might lose something – Apple’s messages about how my stuff will be wiped and replaced with what’s on the PC doesn’t fill me with confidence, as it’s a new PC that doesn’t have stuff on it. But having a new machine is definitely a nice experience, and one that I can recommend. I’m sure when I get around to buying an SSD I’ll feel like it’s shiny and new all over again!

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Adam Machanic

    Lenovo laptops have a feature where the battery charge doesn’t kick in until the battery has reached a certain level (user specified). I have mine set to 95%. This keeps the thing from discharging a bit as it sits there, then jumping into a charge, then discharging, etc. Same end-effect of the feature on your Dell, prolonging the battery’s life, but it’s a bit more automatic.

  2. Rob Farley

    Nice. I considered a Lenovo – I’ve heard a lot of good things about them – but it was also a lot more expensive than the Dell.

  3. TiborKaraszi

    I have an XPS-16, had it for some 6 months now. Love it! I have older proc specs, though. I’v considered goind SSD, but I still need so many VHDs for training and I really dislike external drives. Might go there in the end, though. I wish the manufactirers would make it standard to have a smaller form factor SSD drive for "system" stuff and the traditional drive for "other" stuff. Let us know if/when you start investigate the SSD area.

  4. Bruce

    I also heard that the Lenovos do not use the battery if the laptop is plugged in. It’s something called ThinkVantage. I don’t own one but ever since I heard about it, I have been looking for one. But they are pricey which is why I’m still looking.

  5. danh

    Sounds like a nice machine.
    I have a 160Gb Intel X25-M in my XPS M1330 and it is very good, has certainly extended the life of my laptop.
    I am running Win 7 64 bit with 4 Gb Ram.
    An App like Excel 2010 64 loads in less than a second.
    My VMWare image of a Server 2008 boots not much slower than my i7 based server at home…

  6. Alex-Hong Kong

    I have a Dell Vostro v130 and it came with the same option. I think that is pretty nice it will definitely helps extends the lifetime of the battery. I use my laptop mostly at office and at home, when it is plugged constantly, so I don’t really need the battery to be kept recharging all the time.

  7. Alyssa

    I have a problem and I am hoping someone could help.  I have a Dell Latitude D620, originally came with XP, upgraded to 7.  My ex somehow disable my battery charging option so that when it is plugged in the battery does not charge, and as you can guess the battery eventually got so low from unplugging it that it is now dead.  How can I turn it back on?  I know it isn’t the battery because I just bought a brand new one from Dell.  Any help would be great.  Thanks 🙂

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