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damn_registrars's Journal: Traveling with a laptop: Planes without power outlets 6

Journal by damn_registrars
Many mere mortals such as myself use either inexpensive or dated laptops. Mine is actually both; a 6-year-old IBM thinkpad R-series. Anyone who has owned a laptop for more than a couple years of regular use knows that the claim of lithium-ion batteries being "immune" to the memory effect knows that claim to be crap over time. Hence working with the laptop while flying is dependent on either carrying extra batteries (very inconvenient) or finding planes with power outlets (not trivial).

Hence I am compiling my list of planes that do not have power outlets. This is coming to be because, well, I have yet to fly on a plane that has a power outlet.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and is based on my own experiences over the past several years.
  • Continental Airlines
    • All Embraer Jets
    • De Haviland Dash Turbo-props
  • Southwest Airlines
    • All Jets as of April 2009
  • United Airlines
    • All CRJ aircraft (from Bombardier)
    • Any 737 series

Any other observations are welcomed.

This discussion was created by damn_registrars (1103043) for no Foes, but now has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Traveling with a laptop: Planes without power outlets

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  • Lithium Ion batteries don't suffer from the memory effect, that's true. Unfortunately, they age like an old plastic shopping bag. The moment the battery is manufactured, it begins to permanently lose capacity, never to be recovered. You can increase lifespan of Lithium Ion batteries by discharging to 50% and storing them in the fridge or freezer when you're going to be on AC power at home for a while. Things that age your battery faster are heat and too much or too little charge, so keeping your battery
    • The moment the battery is manufactured, it begins to permanently lose capacity, never to be recovered.

      Which from the consumer point of view is functionally similar to the memory effect that plagued NiCd batteries.

      Things that age your battery faster are heat and too much or too little charge, so keeping your battery in bay and at full charge is a great way to shorten it's lifespan dramatically.

      Is that why laptop batteries age so much quicker than cell phone batteries? I have had cell phone lithium ion batteries go for 2-3 years without fail, my laptop batteries seem to be junk within about 13 months (one month after their warranty is up).

      unless you want to fly toilet class and stay plugged into the razor outlet with the toilet draft blowing up your backside for an extensive portion of the flight

      I seem to recall JetBlue doing that to a passenger a while ago...

      Although I think toilet class may be an upgrade over my usual situation in terms

      • Which from the consumer point of view is functionally similar to the memory effect that plagued NiCd batteries.

        Except for the fact that if you attempt to counteract it by draining the battery completely, you'll reduce it's capacity permanently and run the risk of bricking it entirely. Which is why I wonder why in the world these things are in all-electric cars: At least if the Li-Ion batteries die in a Prius, you just get crappy city mileage.

        Things that age your battery faster are heat and too much or too little charge, so keeping your battery in bay and at full charge is a great way to shorten it's lifespan dramatically.

        Is that why laptop batteries age so much quicker than cell phone batteries? I have had cell phone lithium ion batteries go for 2-3 years without fail, my laptop batteries seem to be junk within about 13 months (one month after their warranty is up).

        Yes, this is exactly why this happens. With proper care, you can easily get 24-36 months out of a Lithium-Ion. Beyond that is really iffy, even if you've never used the batt

        • Which from the consumer point of view is functionally similar to the memory effect that plagued NiCd batteries.

          Except for the fact that if you attempt to counteract it by draining the battery completely, you'll reduce it's capacity permanently and run the risk of bricking it entirely.

          From my experience, it is quite difficult to truly drain a laptop battery completely. It seems like any OS that realizes you are running a laptop will try to prevent that from happening no matter how hard you try to do otherwise. I think you'd probably have to leave your system in the BIOS for hours on end to really run it down to fully discharged.

          Though, of course, YMMV.

          Which is why I wonder why in the world these things are in all-electric cars: At least if the Li-Ion batteries die in a Prius, you just get crappy city mileage.

          Obviously this is not my field of expertise. Is there a better battery for that application? It certainly has been shown that ther

          • From my experience, it is quite difficult to truly drain a laptop battery completely. It seems like any OS that realizes you are running a laptop will try to prevent that from happening no matter how hard you try to do otherwise. I think you'd probably have to leave your system in the BIOS for hours on end to really run it down to fully discharged.

            Safety circuit in the battery prevents full drain, though you *can* fully discharge the battery by draining it until critically low, and storing it that way for a month or two (since the same safety circuit, ironically does draw a microcharge). When you try to recharge it, the circuit will detect the battery charge is too low and won't allow a charge: This is not a reversible condition.

            Obviously this is not my field of expertise. Is there a better battery for that application? It certainly has been shown that there is demand for all-electric vehicles; I was under the impression that the lithium ion batteries were the best for the cars in terms of cost-benefit.

            If weight were no object, I'd go with a lead acid battery. Yeah, it's got the memory effect, but on the other hand, yo

  • by zogger (617870)

    The recent news about all the upcoming ARM based netbooks should give you some hope on both a cheap upgrade and extended battery life. Heck, I'm cheap too, but I'll probably get one if they approach the single benjamin level in cost.

    Oh, on the cheap batteries. Find a local black and decker outlet store (or maybe online) and look for a rebuilt portable power supply. They have hip pocket versions that can output 20 to 100 watts AC (an integrated unit, battery plus converter, will fit in your pocket), suitable

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