Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Super-size your netbook battery

Aug. 22, 2010

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2010, The Post-Standard

   If you have a pint-size netbook computer, chances are it's got an equally tiny battery -- one that runs dry after two hours or less.
   My little Acer Aspire is a case in point. I loved everything about it except its toy-size power plant. Until I gave it some electronic steroids, my Acer would run out of breath before I had a chance to finish a movie on Hulu.com.
   The solution? A jumbo battery from a Web-based discounter. In fact, I ordered two, so I'd always have a spare. I was delighted to discover that two jumbo batteries cost only a few dollars more than one of the puny factory batteries. I got two 9-cell lithium batteries made to fit the Aspire from www.1800emart.com for a total of $84. There was no shipping charge and no sales tax.
   There are many Aspire models, but mine's the tiny one, with the smallest possible screen and keyboard. Like a lot of other netbooks, the small Aspire holds its battery at the spine, underneath the pivot for the screen. The factory-issue battery is so small that it fits like an end cap under the screen hinge.
   This keeps the Aspire slim and trim. But when I found out how weak the battery was, I started shopping online. I used Google's standard search form, specifying ACER ASPIRE REPLACEMENT BATTERY. I quickly found the super-battery bargain at www.1800emart.com -- $42 each, $84 for two, no sales tax and no shipping charge.
   Because of the extra cells in the jumbo battery, it's twice as thick as the standard one and quite a bit deeper. The extra depth provides a firm handhold and serves as a prop to angle the keyboard up at the rear. The result is a laptop that's easier to hold -- it's almost impossible to drop the computer -- and easier to type on.
   The Aspire's Windows 7 battery meter shows 12 hours remaining when the battery's fully charged. I've sometimes worked with the Aspire for four hours, then used it when teaching a two-hour class and followed up with four or five more hours of constant use, without using the battery charger even once.
   This ranks as simply outstanding. When iPad owners tell me they get 10 hours of battery life on their new Apple gadget, I smile. I'd hate to lose two hours from my Acer's battery performance.