Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Article: How to Maximize the Life of Portable Electronics

Image: Johan Larsson via Flickr
Ever been stuck on a plane and have your laptop run out of juice? Or are you just wondering how you can keep your iPhone from dying before dinner? Whether you are seeking to maximize your battery life for convenience or the environment, these few simple tips can keep more bars on your screen and give your electronics a longer life.
  • Turn off wireless unless necessary - If you're writing a paper, working on a presentation, or taking notes for a blog post, you may not need the internet. If you're on an airplane, you might not even have access to the it. So switch off the wireless, and save yourself some battery life. This can result in dramatic savings, especially for older models of Kindle readers such as the Kindle Keyboard.
  • Dim your screens - One of the most dramatic ways to increase your battery life is to decrease your screen brightness. It can even help to reduce eye strain. I recently purchased a Kindle Fire and found ScreenDim to be a worthy investment, in energy savings alone. Especially if you read at night, it's worth toying with your screen brightness settings to find a comfortable level for you.
  • Check your programs and apps - I was so excited when I got my first smart phone that it came with so many wonderful bells and whistles. An animated background! Live weather updates! It was great, until I realized that all of those fancy programs were draining my battery in less than a day. Keep an eye out for any program that updates constantly, as they have to send signals back and forth each time they update, taking a huge toll on the battery. Also watch out for lurking programs running in the background, as some devices, such as the iPad, make multiple running applications easy to forget. 
  • Choose manual instead of automatic - Many mobile devices are set to check your email every minute. Change it to every 20 minutes or even set it to "never." Live a little dangerously, and manually check for emails periodically if you're expecting something important.
  • Use pared-down versions of programs when on the go - If your laptop battery won't last through a cross-country flight, consider using lightweight programs to reduce battery drain. For example, try Notepad (or TextEdit for Mac) instead of Word if you're taking simple notes or writing a short article. Or use MS Paint to crop a screenshot instead of launching Photoshop.
Last, but not least, don't forget to put your computer in standby or turn off that tablet when you're not using it. In general, if you don't think you'll come back within the hour, it's probably more energy efficient just to power it down. And don't forget to unplug your charger when your battery is full.

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