Here at Hot Hardware
, few things irk us worse than dealing with batteries
. If you think about it, much of the trouble we still deal with in the consumer electronics realm is due to batteries, particularly when thinking of the mobile sector. Most everything (cell phones, notebooks, portable media players, watches, etc.) is limited by the size and capacity of the battery within, and without deforming your device or forcing it to run at a lower clock speed, you basically have no options for improving the life of the device you buy. To compound the matter, many notebook makers fib about the true battery life
of their machines, as we've seen time and time again in reviews
of real-world longevity.
Thankfully, it seems like some progress can be looked forward to, as battery mega-firm Energizer has just announced plans to launch a "new type of standard battery in the summer of 2010, based on technology invented some 35 years ago." The Zinc Air, as it is referred to now, is a non-rechargeable solution that uses oxygen from the air around it as an actual energy source to generate power. Reportedly, the batteries will provide longer run times and will come in a smaller form factor, though we aren't exactly sure how that is to benefit the legions of devices that are designed to operate with the industry standard AA, AAA, C and D-cell sizes.
Existing batteries utilize two dissimilar materials (anode and cathode), but these Zinc Air cells only use one, which is said to reduce the size down to just 5mm thin. We're guessing that something like this could be the spark needed to change the aforementioned industry standards into something smaller, and with Dell making entire laptops that are just 9.99mm thick, we'd say it's about time battery makers considered slimming down their wares without totally destroying capacity in the process.
One of the downfalls to this approach, however, is that Zinc Air batteries are directly effected by their surroundings. We know that traditional batteries can already be weakened by cold surroundings, but these cells could be negatively affected to an even greater extent in low-oxygen areas and exceptionally frigid environments. The other issue is that these could also pick up water from humid ir, so some sort of environmental filter would likely be needed to prevent malfunctions. So far, about 30 companies have expressed interest in working with the new battery, and that kind of wide-ranging support will be vital if we ever plan on seeing a revolution in the type and size of battery compartments used in devices. Reportedly, these OEMs are looking to produce a variety of products based on the Zinc Air cell, with items such as remote controls, audio players, flashlights and Bluetooth phones on track for mid-2010 releases.
Energizer is also looking to launch its Zinc Air batteries in an unspecified amount of "major retailers" next summer, with the first model being the 1.5V PP355 (AAAA chassis), with smaller and larger options coming out later. As for price, we're told that the MSRP will be "about the same as that of the special lithium batteries," but we wouldn't be surprised to see at least a small premium placed on these as they first hit the market.