Stuff We Love: Battery Life Indicators
Built-in Notebook Battery Tools
Notebooks have meters detailing how much charge remains in their battery, but you have to boot up your system to see the power meter display. If you're fumbling around with a stack of cells, trying to find the one with the most juice, repeatedly shutting down and rebooting your machine is terribly inefficient. That's why we appreciate the way some notebook vendors, including Dell and Gateway, have designed their batteries with a small battery meter right on the case. You simply eject the battery from the notebook and press a button: A set of LEDs will then light up, roughly indicating the amount of charge remaining. This approach isn't perfect, but it's far better than the blank face most batteries present.
Sony's InfoLithium Battery
What's the difference between one bar and two bars on the little battery icon found in many electronics? We haven't got a clue, and so we admire what Sony has done with its InfoLithium camera batteries: Turn on most Sony camera models, and you'll see an estimate of the amount of time remaining (in minutes) in the battery, instead of a cryptic icon. How does it work? InfoLithium batteries transmit information about the rate of consumption and other data to the camera, allowing the processor to calculate the amount of power left. However, Sony cameras may not function with third-party batteries, and older models sometimes mistakenly conclude that a fully charged battery is dead, possibly because the camera firmware isn't up-to-date.