Long-Lived Laptops From Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo

My Apple MacBook Air has a lot going for it. Beauty, a svelte profile, the Mac OS. Unfortunately, long battery life isn't among its assets. (The Air's nonremovable battery lasts about 3 hours with full screen brightness and Wi-Fi networking on, in my experience.)

If you're in the market for a laptop that will last you from LA to New York, or longer, the Air's not for you. This week I discuss four other portables with batteries that probably won't run out of juice before you do.

By the way, if you're not in the market for a new laptop, you can buy external battery packs to keep you going. The Duracell Powersource Mobile 100 is a good option. It's about $116 and up online; go to PCW Shop & Compare for pricing.

Lenovo ThinkPad X200

This ultraportable offers superb battery life. We tested the ThinkPad X200 with a nine-cell battery option--and got nearly nine hours of use from a single charge. The battery added less than a pound to the computer, bringing the total weight to only 3.7 pounds. Upgrading from the standard four-cell battery to the nine-cell adds $50 to your system's overall costs. Go to the PCW overview for our detailed review, plus pricing.

Dell Latitude E6400

Dell claims its Latitude E6400 can run for up to 19 hours, but only if you configure the notebook with the following: an optional nine-cell battery (a $69 upgrade to the standard six-cell battery); $300 optional add-on battery; and a solid-state drive (currently it's a 128GB option that adds about $309 to the laptop's $799 price tag).

Right off the bat, you're adding $678 to this system's cost to get the 19 hours Dell promises. Is it worth it? Read the customer reviews on Dell's site before you decide. Granted, you have to take online customer feedback with a chunk of salt. But some of the comments (like "This is the worst thing [I've] ever seen from Dell," or "large and heavy") might give you pause.

HP EliteBook 6930p

According to HP, this business notebook can run for up to 24 hours on one charge. You must downgrade the OS to Windows XP to get the full 24 hours, though at the moment there's no additional charge for that. Also, you must buy the 12-cell ultra-capacity battery ($189), which reportedly lasts about 10 hours longer than the standard battery. You have to use this battery in tandem with a six-cell battery, which comes with the notebook.

HP says to get the 24-hour charge, your EliteBook 6930p must also have an 80GB solid-state drive as its main storage--which adds $574. That's a total of $763 added to the system's $850 price tag.

Asus Eee PC1000HE

If you're on a budget, the Asus Eee PC 1000HE netbook might be the way to go; I've seen it online for $370 at J&R and $374 at Amazon. Asus claims the netbook can run for up to 9.5 hours on one charge. That's far above the average netbook, which usually lasts only about 2 to 3 hours per charge.

The Wrap Up

If you frequently fly on long-haul international flights without acess to a power port, the HP or Dell machines might be worth considering. Otherwise, your best bets are either the ThinkPad X200 or, if money's tight, the Asus Eee PC1000HE.

And if you're a Mac fan, consider the new 17-inch MacBook Pro. Its battery, which isn't user-removable, is said to last up to 8 hours on a single charge. List price: $2799.

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Mobile Computing News, Reviews, & Tips

Great Tech Bargains: Did you know you can buy a refurbished MacBook Air from Apple.com for $999--a far cry from the $1799 you'd pay for a similarly configured new model? Learn more money-saving tips in Rick Broida's "How to Save $7500 on Your Technology Purchases."

All About Netbooks: If you're tempted to take the plunge, give Darren Gladstone's "Netbooks: All About the New Ultraportables" a read. Darren gives you the back story on how netbooks have evolved, plus a look at six new and notable netbooks and more.

The Ideal Ultraportable: What would the perfect portable computer look like? For starters, it would feature a built-in Pico projector, dual portrait screens, the ability to use any 3G wireless service we want, and a slide-away, detachable Bluetooth keyboard. A few of our wish-list features have been announced by major computer makers, such as Asus. Check out Danny Allen's "One Ultraportable, Many Ways to Interact" feature for a look at our dream machine.

Contributing Editor James A. Martin offers tools, tips, and product recommendations to help you make the most of computing on the go. Martin is also author of the Traveler 2.0 blog. Sign up to have the Mobile Computing Newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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Is there a particularly cool mobile computing product or service I've missed? Got a spare story idea in your back pocket? Tell me about it. However, I regret that I'm unable to respond to tech-support questions, due to the volume of e-mail I receive.

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