AMD Outs Lying Laptop Makers About Battery Life

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News Posted: Sat, Jun 20 2009 11:21 PM
How many times have you perused a notebook review here or elsewhere on the net, taken an educated look at the manufacturers' claimed battery life specifications and thought to yourself, "yeah right"?  Let's be real now, shall we?  Most times our Tech Editors here at HotHardware find that a many notebooks fall well short of specified expected battery life.  And only a select few of the major players are smart enough to use careful wording like "up to 6 hours" of battery life or just specify battery capacity in mAh (milliamp hour) numbers.  Smart HotHardware readers know that in reality, battery life often falls well short of what manufacturers will often either specify directly or list as best case performance.  Think on the order of about 50% less than what a machine is listed for and you'll be in the right ballpark.  Honestly it's pretty much unacceptable.  Hard drive manufacturers went through a bit of a shake-down a few years back, with respect to truth in advertising and how many bits are in a byte.  Now, it's painfully apparent now that most notebook manufacturers need that same sanity check.


HotHardware Battery Eater Pro Test- Battery Life In Minutes

Recently AMD became a bit vocal with respect to how notebook manufacturers are getting away with some of their outlandish claims of battery life performance.  The answer?  Benchmarks...  It's a slippery slope to be sure but notebook manufacturers and chip makers are all a part of BAPCo, the company behind the popular MobileMark 2007 benchmark - a tool that is often used for this specific metric in the industry.  In short, folks within AMD are so fed up with the industry turning down screen brightness, flipping off WiFi and ramping down processor core speed before measuring battery life for "day long computing" claims, that they're calling out members of the BAPCo consortium and asking for a new way of measuring battery life. 

Our bud, Patrick Moorehead at AMD, notes that "There's only three endings to this story.  Either the industry regulates itself, or the FTC steps in and regulates us, or we get hit with a class-action lawsuit.  I suggest the industry go with the first option."


Asus Eee PC 1000H Netbook - Day Long Computing?  Try 4.5 hours, on average...

Good show, Pat.  We couldn't agree more.  AMD suggests manufacturers develop a new method for measuring battery life expectancy, with two modes of operation, one "active time" and another for "resting time," which, as Newsweek notes is similar to how cellphone manufacturers make claims for talk time and standbye time.  This seems like a reasonable approach to us as well but when will something be done about it and how much longer will the outright lies continue?  If anyone knows a blood-thirsty lawyer or two, perhaps we could hasten this change for the common good of the consumer.

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Super Dave replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 12:20 AM

News:
If anyone knows a blood-thirsty lawyer or two, perhaps we could hasten this change for the common good of the consumer.

How about the ones that just went after KFC?Stick out tongue

 

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Dave_HH replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 2:11 AM

I think we need Johnny Cockroach!

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Dave_HH:

I think we need Johnny Cockroach!

"If the battery life doesn't fit, we must bull-***!"Wink

 

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mhenriday replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 4:53 AM

A class-action lawsuit would probably do most to light a fire under notebook manufacturers. «Truth in advertising» (an oxymoron if I've ever hear one), innit ?...

Henri

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AsanDumpy replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 3:55 PM

Good stuff dude. I like it.

 

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shanewu replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 4:10 PM

Mr. Moorehead and AMD FTW! :)

"Everyone always wants new things. Everybody likes new inventions, new technology. People will never be replaced by machines. In the end, life and business are about human connections. And computers are about trying to murder you in a lake. And to me, the choice is easy." - Michael Scott (The Office)

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And don't forget:  The ampere-hour capacity of a lithium battery shrinks by about 20% per year,

starting with the Day of Manufacture!  

 

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Dave_HH replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 6:29 PM

Richard2718:

And don't forget:  The ampere-hour capacity of a lithium battery shrinks by about 20% per year,

starting with the Day of Manufacture!  

 

Good point Richard!  We should make sure that is detailed in the specs as well!

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3vi1 replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 6:59 PM

Good point about the day of manufacture: too many people are unaware that it's a chemical machine that's degrading on the shelf even before you buy it.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

++++++++++++[>++++>+++++++++>+++>+<<<<-]>+++.>++++++++++.-------------.+++.>---.>--.

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Rk1988 replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 7:41 PM

manufactures do need more regulations imposed on them they base there proformance marks on the best possible senario and take that figure even though most people will never see that proformance they should take that figure then one at 80% usage and quote the avarage.

on my new laptop well its coming up for 6 months old now i can get 2.50 hours out the standard 6 cell battery when im on messanger and browsing the web which is not bad since they quote 3 hours.

its a HP 6735s with 2.1 AMD Turion x2

im sure if i turned the wifi off and dimmed the screen i could push it past 3 hours lol

the thing that annoys me most is when they misslead you about HDD speeds a standard 5400rpm sata drive can only actually transfer at 15 MegaBytes per second but since data transfer speeds are measured in Megabits per second they can quote 150Mbps and make most people think thats fast plus you have to wait also since you have latancy and seak time that totals about 20ms between them so it ends up being sooooooo slow for large data transfers

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akita16384 replied on Sun, Jun 21 2009 11:17 PM

I heartily second the Active:Standby time ala mobile phones.

Active should have the following as a base level:

1. Watching a video clip (should be a standard clip for testing)

2. Browsing the web, checking email

3. Using Office apps

4. Wifi On throughout the test

5. Speaker / headphone playing

OR

1. LCD at 75% or more

2. CPU at 80% or more

3. Wifi on

Resting (Standby) should be:

1. LCD at lowest level (not off)

2. CPU at lowest idle speed

3. Wifi off

With this min:max range, users can better gauge the actual batt life base on their own usage pattern. :)

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rfall replied on Mon, Jun 22 2009 1:59 AM

Trying to get around the battery life claims by quoting "mAh" figures for the battery itself is about as useful as quoting how much gasoline the tank of a car holds--without knowing the MPG the car gets, it's virtually useless information.

Why does the computer industry keep stumbling over this kind of problem? First it was monitor sizes (the bezel covered some of the quote diagonal space, making it useless); then it was the disk drive manufacturers (in most people's book an "MB" is 2^10 bytes--1,048,576--not 10^6 bytes--1,000,000--and when formatting takes away 10%-20%, that's a lie; now it's battery life.

Most of these problems have been resolved by class-action suits, IIRC, so perhaps that's what will happen here, too.

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Akita, isn't it funny that you can get better battery life information on cellphones? Heck look at the iphone 3G. They do a great job. They are usage model based and disclose the heck out of it.

Info: http://www.apple.com/iphone/compare-iphones/

Disclosure: http://www.apple.com/iphone/battery.html

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Dave_HH replied on Mon, Jun 22 2009 12:49 PM

Wow, I've never looked at that before and I have an iPhone 3G myself. Apple is pretty darn stand-up there for sure!

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GGmcr replied on Thu, Jun 25 2009 6:40 PM

I am with a law firm that is investigating complaints that some laptop batteries run out faster than their advertised lifespan. Check us out at http://www.girardgibbs.com/batterylife.asp, or give us a call toll-free at (866) 981-4800. You can also reach me by email at mcr@girardgibbs.com

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