Why your laptop has no juice so fast.

Why your laptop has no juice so fast.

Imagine if automakers met up and started measuring the fuel consumption of latest cars having a cool test of their very own making—one inch which the cars were rolling downhill because of their engines idling. Suddenly you'd involve some pretty amazing claims: Why, that three-ton SUV gets 300 miles per gallon! This subcompact gets 500! In tiny print towards the bottom from the window sticker you'd get a disclaimer saying that, well, um, you realize, your mileage are vastly different.

Crazy, right? Yet that's pretty much what's happening with laptop computers and their Dell Inspiron 1750 Battery lives. Today, I'm considering a Greatest coupe flier touting a $599 Dell laptop that gets "nearly 5 hours and 40 minutes of battery life." Down in the terms and conditions comes a disclaimer explaining that "battery will vary" with different few factors. Translation: you ain't gonna get five hours and 40 minutes, bub. Never. Not close.

Now how can Dell and greatest Buy make which claim? These 5200mah Dell Vostro 1510 Battery life numbers provide a benchmark test called MobileMark 2007 (MM07). The exam appeared by way of consortium called BAPCo (Business Application Performance Corp.), whose members are—you guessed it—computer makers along with tech companies. AMD, the No. 2 maker of microprocessors, can be a person in BAPCo, however has turned into a whistle-blower. AMD says PC makers know full well that the new tests produce misleading numbers, but you are touting them anyway.

Laptops score big numbers because they're tested with screens dimmed to 20 to 30 % of full brightness, the Wi-Fi deterred along with the main model running at 7.5 percent of capacity—much like those cars idling downhill. Techies and industry insiders have long known that official 5200mah Dell Inspiron 1545 Battery life claims are pretty much worthless. But regular folks don't. Subsequently, some have become pushed toward pricier machines by sales reps who let them know they'll experience an extra hour of life of the battery. Those customers could be paying reduced and having nothing. "There's only three endings to this story," says Patrick Moorhead, an advertising and marketing vp at AMD. "Either the industry regulates itself, or perhaps the FTC levels in and regulates us, or we hit with a class-action lawsuit. We highly recommend the industry choose the very first option."

AMD is recommending computer makers adopt an alternative way of measuring life of the battery, using two states: "active time" and "resting time," just like way cell-phone makers describe the "talk-time" and "standby time" of an phone. A Dell executive says that approach adds up, and that this company is considering providing customers with information beyond the MM07 scores. "Customers expect the advertised battery to reflect the way they really make use of the product," says Ketan Pandya, head of AMD-based products at Dell.

AMD isn't leading this crusade beyond feeling of altruism. Its real gripe is the fact MM07 gives Intel, its archrival, an unfair advantage. AMD claims MM07 was created in Intel's labs and rigged in order that Intel chips would outscore AMD chips, since AMD chips draw more power when idle. (AMD says that in real-life usage, laptops using its chips perform comparably to Intel's.) AMD also points out the president of BAPCo is actually the of performance benchmarking at Intel.

Intel says it is all hogwash. An Intel spokeswoman says that merely considering that the consortium's president is usually an Intel exec doesn't imply Intel has special influence. Meanwhile, she can't resist taking a crack at AMD: "You will frequently find that companies who are behind in performance sometimes challenge independent and standards-based benchmarks," she says via e-mail.

Intel and AMD will be the Bickersons in the computer industry, with AMD always complaining that Intel is cheating, and Intel always responding that AMD should quit being this type of crybaby. But lately AMD has been landing some punches. In May, European antitrust regulators smacked Intel with a $1.45 billion fine, claiming Intel used unfair tactics to bully AMD. (Intel promises to appeal.)

Meanwhile, call at the market industry, the crazy battery claims persist. Dell says its $2,000 Adamo notebook will run for a lot more than five hours, though the Wall Street Journal got only 120 minutes and 44 minutes. Apple claims eight hours of battery due to the $2,800 17-inch MacBook Pro, but CNET got only 4 hours and 14 minutes. These products is pervasive that professional reviewers see company-generated 5200mah HP Pavilion dm4 Battery life claims like a joke. "The rule of thumb is always that in real-world use you will get about 50 percent of rated life of the battery," says Mark Wilson, associate editor at Gizmodo. "It may not be that companies are lying, but they're stacking the deck into their favor. [Their claims] are misleading towards general public." That's something to make note of the next time you're out buying a laptop.