I have had my MacBook Pro for about 6 months now, and for the most part I have been very happy with it. The one issue that has been with it from the beginning is battery life. While it may be quite a powerful laptop, the 2.5hrs battery life (I have seen less more than once) is just plain slack. Due to the design of the MBP an extended battery isn’t really practical either as it would be a rather awkward hump in the middle of the laptop.
There is a solution however. It might not be the most elegant of solutions, but it certainly gets the job done, and provides an amazing boost in battery life. It comes from a company called BatteryGeek, who pride themselves in powering your devices far beyond their standard time.
Today I am looking at their 130Wh laptop battery pack. This battery is designed to power your laptop for up to 5hrs in addition to your laptop’s internal battery. The battery pack is a flat slim “brick” that is 7.75×4.5×0.75in in size, or roughly the size of a DVD case (just less wide).
Included in the box is the battery, a users guide, 12 adaptor tips and the AC adaptor. There is also a MacBook Pro adaptor which isn’t included in the box, but can be requested if you needed it.
Before you can use the battery you need to charge it up. Connect the AC adaptor to a power point and then to the port on the back of the battery. The light on the AC adaptor will glow red, and change to green when the battery is fully charged.
Getting it going the first time is very simple. Find a tip that fits your laptops AC connector (or is fairly similar) and connect it to the cord from the battery pack.
Before you plug it in you need to make sure that the voltage is set correctly for your laptop. If you have a look on the AC adaptor for your laptop you should see the output voltage.
In the manual it specifies the voltages that work with either the 16 or 19V setting:
16V 15V, 16V, 16.5V
19V 18V, 18.5V, 19V, 19.5V, 20V, 20.5V, 21V
My MacBook Pro adaptor outputs 18.5V, so I set the battery to 19V using the small switch on the bottom.
Once connected, my MBP shows as connected to AC. According to the BatteryGeek website their batteries will not charge the MacBook or MacBook Pro, probably because of some restriction Apple put on their charging circuitry or something, but it does hold the current charge level. For my tests I started out with a fully charged battery, and use the computer normally until both the BG battery and internal battery ran dead. That included the display on full brightness, WiFi and Bluetooth on, and use of Word, Firefox, iTunes, MSN Messenger and Parallels (XP Pro).
Several tests resulted in similar results. In my latest test I unplugged my MBP from the AC and connected the freshly charged BG battery. I did that at 10:30am. I used the computer till 1pm, and put it in standby. I opened it up again at 4pm, and it wasn’t until 6:05pm that the display began to flick from full brightness (on AC) to medium (on battery). That amounts to 4hrs 35mins, which I think is pretty damned impressive!! Add to that the 2hrs 30mins that I got out of the internal battery for a total of just over 7hrs of use!!
I also ran a test under heavy load with lots of power usage. I did some video editing in Final Cut Pro off an external USB powered 2.5 HDD with a fair bit of audio and video rendering, again with WiFi on and screen on full, and I got over 5hrs which is awesome!!
On the top of the battery pack is a current charge indicator, that displays the current level in 25% intervals. When the battery is critically low one LED flashes red.
I have been carrying the battery with me to university whenever I take my laptop, and it isn’t too heavy, but a little weight loss wouldn’t hurt. The slim design fits just great in the Roadwired Skooba bag. Using it is a simple matter of trailing the cord out of the bag up to the laptop. It is easy to use it like this in class, on the train, or sitting in a park.
There is also another feature I only found out about recently. The battery can be connected to your laptop as well as the AC adaptor to act like an AC adaptor for your laptop. If you go on a trip with your laptop and bring the BatteryGeek along with you, then you only need the charger for the battery to power both. Great feature!!
This battery is fantastic, and is the perfect solution for someone who needs more battery life than the standard MBP battery (or other laptops) can offer. At almost US$200 it isn’t the cheapest laptop accessory, but standard (and for some laptops extended) batteries are not cheap either and would not reach the amazing times offered by this battery. You also have the ease of using it with multiple laptops, and you don’t need to buy a new spare battery when you get a new laptop. The MacBook Pro’s 60Wh battery plus the 130Wh Battery Geek is a fantastic combination!!
The Battery Geek 130W 15-21-130 External Laptop Battery is available directly from Battery Geek.net
What I Like: Extends the battery life of a laptop considerably, slim design, charge laptop through the battery pack on AC, suitable for many different laptop models and manufacturers.
What Needs Improvement: Nothing, the battery is fantastic!