I've been bitching and moaning about battery life for as long as there have been luggables, and I feel like I've lugged most of them, starting with a 28-pound Compaq 286 Portable (aka the sewing machine) back when I was still a pup, relatively speaking.
In July I wrote about a class-action suit filed against Intel for its -- shall we say "optimistic"? -- claims of notebook battery life ("Assault with batteries"). I also detailed my own sorry struggle trying to squeeze more juice out of my portable gear over the years. Since then I've heard from a few readers who've echoed my sentiments.
M. C., a professor at a well-known university in the Midwest, says battery life has actually gotten worse over the past 20 years:
The one laptop that I had that actually lived up to its battery life promises was my Zenith 80286 that gave me 6 hours of working time. I used it to research my thesis and spent an 8 hour day in an archives every day, and would take my notes on the laptop. It always gave me a full day's work. I would plug it in at night and do it all over again the next day. How I wish that 1987 technology was still with us!
Professional support tech D. S. B. sees a conspiracy afoot, citing the ridiculously high price of replacement batteries (often 25 percent of the cost of a new notebook) coupled with their propensity to simply up and die overnight without warning. To wit:
...about 5 months ago I powered up my Dell Inspiron 6400 laptop and was startled by a warning message that the battery was now dead and needed to be replaced, along with requisite contact information for how I could purchase one from Dell. Prior to that day, the battery continued to charge and hold a charge as normal. Granted, again, not as long as new, but certainly acceptable and at least an hour. Now, all of a sudden, Whap! The battery would no longer take or accept a charge. ... There is simply no reason why a previously working battery would all of a sudden drop off the useful list and Dell would be so "helpful" in pushing me toward dropping an exorbitant amount on a replacement. Call it captive revenue.