Just As Gas Prices Are Coming Down, It Might Get Harder To Fuel Your Laptop

from the fill-up dept

This year has seen more than its fair share of laptop battery recalls and explosions, the fallout from which has hit computer manufacturers, business travellers and of course the battery makers themselves. The lack of breakthroughs in battery power had already been a major drag on computing, particularly mobile computing, so the whole thing has been rather fitting. It looks like the problem may compound itself as some manufacturers are warning of a laptop battery shortage to continue through the rest of the year and into next summer. Sony’s massive recall is causing customers to wait an additional two months for orders to arrive, while competitors have no spare capacity to build more. Eventually, things will get worked out, and the situation might even prompt more R&D into batteries. But in the meantime, if you see big lines at the Apple store, it might not be due to popularity of the new iPod, but rather an old fashioned buying panic.

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Comments on “Just As Gas Prices Are Coming Down, It Might Get Harder To Fuel Your Laptop”

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Cunk says:

Re: Battery vs. Plug In

For me the battery is used for two things:

1) Letting me put my laptop in suspend mode while I drive to and from work (hibernation still causes problems for the occasional driver).

2) Serving as a UPS during power outtages.

My style of work demands I use a laptop. Or at least it would be extremely inconvenient for me to work from a stationary desktop PC.

Grumpy Old Man says:

Re: The post-laptop era

Have to agree with Dorpus on this one, I think we will start to see a reduction in the number of people bothering with a laptop. My last business trip to Europe is a perfect example. It was so much hassle going through security on the trip out that I just check bagaged the dang thing on the return trip. Add that to the fact that I had not bothered bringing it home from work for sever months. Between VPN and my thumb drive it just is not needed anymore. Just my two cents on the subject.


Scruffy Dan (user link) says:

Re: The post-laptop era

“Seriously, who needs a laptop? We can carry everything on USB drives, and desktops are available just about everywhere. I’ve been given laptops at work before, but I’ve never needed one.”

Laptops would be MUCH more secure. Using a PC in an internet cafe is much less secure than using a wifi hotspot.

PC in internet cafes can have all sorts of stuff on them (keyloggers, malware…).

If you don’t have control of the hardware you cannot be fully secure.

Matthew says:


Maybe I oughtta put my laptop battery on Ebay or something?

I don’t think I’m ready to trust all my data to a USB stick. My laptop is set up for me, with my apps, and my data. I never have to install anything or re-customize a desktop. There’s never incompatibility or legal hassles.

But, if you can get away with it, I can understand it.

Kilroy says:

The post-laptop era

Who needs a laptop?? What are you guys talking about??

Have you never given a powerpoint presentation? Most conference rooms dont have desktop computers stationed at their podiums.

Have you ever traveled on a business trip? Checking your email from a “cybercafe” is one thing, finding a computer with Photoshop, Dreamweaver, TOAD, etc is another.

Perhaps, yes, I never use my laptop’s battery but I would totally screwed if I didn’t have its portability.

Plus, my laptop pwns your desktop box in coolness any day.

Howard Lee Harkness (user link) says:

Portable apps

The main applications I currently use on my laptop are word processing, email, and websurfing. I sometimes use it for making presentations. I only rarely even connect it to a printer.

I have Portable FireFox and Portable Thunderbird on a USB drive, along with all my critical data, so it’s only a short step from there to not needing my laptop at all. For word processing, I don’t even need the app anymore — Google now supplies what I need.

I can see a LOT of money being made in supplying a minimal computer with a couple of USB 2.0 ports and an internet connection at airports, on planes/trains, in hotels, or just about anywhere you would want to go. Most public libraries already have public-use PCs, and just about any hotel that I’d want to stay in has some sort of PC availability. USB drives are now cheap enough to carry a spare or two for backup. And I’d gladly pay a reasonable use fee not to have to lug my laptop — or not to even need one anymore. Even with the prices plummeting, having a laptop costs me $400-$600 a year, not counting any extra hassle involved in transporting it.

And since I’m using Gmail more and more these days, that’s a step towards not even needing the USB drive, although it probably would continue to make a convenient mechanism for keeping personal setups, private encryption keys, etc.

Then, of course, the main problem would be how to keep malware from spreading via USB drives. However, one way to do that would be to have the minimal OS in the ubiquitous (thin-client) PCs entirely in ROM, which would make it more or less immune to malware. And if nobody actually ran anything from the USB drive, that could make virus-writing somewhat more of a challenge than it is now. (Although the new ‘thing’ is phishing, not virus-propagation)

elise says:

Re: Portable apps

Even with the prices plummeting, having a laptop costs me $400-$600 a year, not counting any extra hassle involved in transporting it.

why the hell does your laptop cost you $400-600 a year? It’s not a car, you don’t need to fill up the tank with gas – good lord, i think you’re doing something wrong. perhaps your laptop priviledges should be revoked!

Howard Lee Harkness (user link) says:

Re: Re: Portable apps

$400/year is a guesstimate based on the purchase price ($900 for my last one), expected lifetime (about 3 years), and costs of maintenance –my last one needed a new hard drive just after the warranty expired–, software, and add-ons (like wireless cards, usb sticks, bluetooth adapters, memory expansion, etc.). After about 3 years, the next thing that goes wrong with it renders it worthless. My $900 Winbook just died last week, and it isn’t worth fixing again.

As I mentioned, the costs are coming down, and many of the things I used to buy separately are now included in the base unit. But did you think laptops were free? I have one I got for free, and it is slow, obsolete, and such a hassle to use that I plan to replace it with a MacBook.

RiskyMethodz says:

Maybe I'm Thinking Differently....

…but a laptop/portable computer is designed to give you a portable computer, not just a storage device?

I disagree that laptops are going out, on the contrary I think you’ll see more laptops now than ever before. Even this comment is typed on a laptop.

I can understand the viewpoint from someone who has computers and wants to move between them…a computer programmer, for example, that just has to move project files between home and the workplace. In that case a laptop may not be needed, sure. But that’s not the rule at all.

Laptops allow you to have YOUR computer with you wherever you go, even if you still plug it in. Your computer will have all of your files, your programs, your settings, etc. Have you tried using a public library’s computer, for example? Given the choice between using their computer or taking your laptop, which do you think is most user-friendly?

Laptops allow travellers to entertain themselves…I’ve played movies and PC games in the back of the car in long rides and I must say it’s much more pleasant than just staring out the window. My laptop allows me to go home from college with my computer in a handled bag. I’ve taken my laptops on trips to family members’ houses so I can entertain myself when I’m there. My LAN-party equipment fits in a 12″x15″x2.5″ bag on my side, not 2 trips to and from the car tangling cables and plugs.

Portability is still the issue, even if thumb drives are getting bigger. Although I do see most people plugging in their laptops when in use in a “desktop” environment. But you can’t do work on the couch with a classic desktop. You can’t read techdirt in the car on your desktop. You can’t write C++ code on the toilet with your desktop (unless you’ve got an amazing setup). You can’t easily take your desktop everywhere with you.

Also, I fail to see how a thumb drive reaching 4GB of storage is the anti-laptop, whene there have been portable harddrives for a long long time now with much more capacity? If it were as simple as bringing files with you and finding a computer that’s “available just about everywhere” then why have laptops been continuously been becoming more and more popular over the past several years? Wouldn’t you expect the opposite effect?


Laptops going away?

You must be high. As a kite. Your treo, jump drive and cell phone would be but a small burp in my laptop’s digestive system!
Maybe if we lined up all the stupid people, even the ones in this thread only, and publicly kicked the tar out of them for being morons, people would start thinking again…at least before speaking in my presence or posting on boards that I read

Gah says:

My wife and I both have our own laptops and I have actually taken my Desktop to my office to pay around with new programs. We have absolutely no need for a desktop and with our wireless network we can access the net or home network from anywhere inside or outside our home. I quite often find myself sitting on my patio reading forums or news on my laptop.

I could not imagine being locked down to a desktop. Laptops are perfect for such a wide range of uses. Even policemen use laptops in their cars.

So you have to spend an extra 2 minutes dealing with TSA or customs, big freaking deal. Stop your whining and get up 2 min earlier.

Those of you who say, “I don’t even take my laptop with me when I travel anymore”, are the same people who should not have wasted yours or your company’s money in the first place.

Go to an Internet Café or Library???? Are you kidding me? I am not even sure how to respond to that. Maybe your problem is that you think a portable is solely used to check email or write a word document. What about those of us needing to write some code or actually use the device to get some work done? I have yet to see an internet café or a library pc with the tools we need to do our work.

McKay Salisbury (user link) says:


I found Laptops very vaulable while I was attending college. I could code in class, and take notes quicker than writing into a Palm. Also, I took the bus to school, so it was more opportunity to get homework done.

Now that I’m graduated, the laptop sits on a cardboard box next to my bed, and doesn’t move. I take my 75 lb full tower to LAN parties, even though my laptop can play most of the games I play at LAN parties (albeit not quite as well).

DM/Diddy says:

It's about space

For me, it’s about space. I’ve got a 1000 sqft condo. Both of my laptops sit in a small armoire/fold out desk in the living room, along with an extra 17″ flat screen. You don’t even know I have computers unless the cabinet is open. When it is open, I’m workng in my living room with a nice stereo, plasma TV, my girlfriend, my dog and a view of a lake.

I can go for days without even looking at the computers and that’s just ducky with me.

Howard Lee Harkness (user link) says:

“why the hell does your laptop cost you $400-600 a year?”

Initial cost of my current laptop: $2450. Expected lifetime, 5-6 years. Do the math. If I didn’t have to have it at all (and I suspect that I will not buy another even when — not if — mine fails again), then I would save the amortized cost of owning a laptop. Or I could have 3 desktop systems with similar specs instead.

Laptop Club says:

REALLY need it?

I work in IT and support laptops/mobile devices & remote users. It’s amazing the cockamaimy excuses people come up with to get into the “elite” Laptop Club”. It’s like a status symbol here. One person has one and the other has to have one. AND… they WILL keep trying excuses til they get one! Heaven forbid one is newer than the other. Then it’s, why is theirs newer than mine.

If people just want to get their email, a Blackberry or T-Mobile device is much better than trying to hook up with a VPN from somewhere and, it fits in your pocket.

I am constantly replacing people’s desktops with laptops. From my vantage point, they’re not going anywhere. At this rate, in 2 – 3 years, I’ll be supporting the whole organization while the rest of the help desk is hanging out on MySpace! And, then everyone here will be kewl with their laptops! 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

There are plenty of public places where people use computers and don’t have access to an AC power source. Besides that, power cords are usually bulky and cumbersome. If people had access to batteries that lasted for 8 or more hours and charged in as little as 1 hour, it would blow the door wide open for mobile users to take to the streets, and would certainly be a huge help to spreading wifi access since all those people out and about would want net access. My company has tons of users with laptops, which they need to do their job. I know for a fact that a lot of them use their machine more on the road without power sources than they do hooked into a docking station somewhere, so long-life batteries would be a huge asset to us.

Corrupt says:

Good enough solution...

I think it works well enough to have a windows mobile powered MDA with a built-in keyboard. If I need to type more than the 25-35 words a minute I can manage on my phone then I probably have access to a desktop anyway. Plus, I can run Microsoft Office on Windows Mobile, and Pocket IE renders most websites well. If that doesn’t work, MiniMO or Opera work very fast on Wifi.

Okita Soji says:


…I’m rather pleased about the exploding lap-top battery pheonomenon. Winter is coming here to the bitter, bitter north…and anything to warm the lap on a cold winter night is fine by me!

PS Screw Apple. Shiny boxes w/ hacked OS’s don’t make me want run out and pay twice what it’s worth for one (let the hate mail ensue!!!)

shane says:

Who needs a desktop?

I’ve got both laptop and desktop, and several USB and portable HDDs with several opsystems loaded.

And my laptop is used 90% of the time.

Of course I work in IT so I need my laptop for many things a USB of phone cannot dream of doing.

And I can without question tell you that laptops are surpassing desktops in popularity at a staggering rate. I’ve configured entire corporate networks with ZERO desktops in the entire network.

Just laptops and wireless routers and nothing more…

Chris Moulder (user link) says:


I use my desktop and my laptop at college. Granted, my desktop is also my web/fileserver, I use both of them everyday. The laptop is great for running around with and using in class, and the desktop is what I do all my crap on; in a way, it actually keeps me from nuking my laptop. I used to be a laptop person, then desktop, and now, in my infinite wisdom, I’ve decided to love both.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think that laptops are great, if you have a reason to use one. And if you have a reason to use a laptop, they are invaluble.
As a student, i cant simply take a usb drive to all my classes, as none of them (save for a unix programming class) are in computer labs. My laptop is neccesary for me.

As far as desktops go, i have one that i am using right now, and it fit prefectly in my dorm room last year, with dual crt’s.

I used my desktop in the room, and left my laptop in my bookbag unless it was needed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Don't use your battery?

For everyone who claims they don’t use their laptop battery – try taking it out for a week and watch how much you miss it.

Both household laptops here have non-functional batteries. If the cord gets unplugged, it’s a hard reboot if it was running at the time. Wanna carry it upstairs? Better be sure you shut down first. Wanna pass it to a friend to show them something? Better mind that power cord. Truly a pain in the rear.

Even if you don’t use the battery for extended periods, the ability to momentarily interrupt power and not lose everything (like a mini-UPS) is more valuable than you realize.

AVGuy (user link) says:

Laptops going away? Not at all

I am an Audio Visual professional and my laptop is absolutely essential to me. I work in a variety of locations and need portability between them. When calibrating projectors and video switchers, I need something to run test patterns on. I have programs and powerpoint presentations that do this. Sure, switchers have test patterns built in, but I like plugging a laptop in, because I can also guarentee that the video inputs are working before a client arrives. My laptop is also essential, because I sometimes need to record meetings for clients, and it is much better to record to a computer with Cool Edit or Pro Tools than to a Cassette. Better sound quality and easy editability. Plus I can burn a cd for the client right then and there. In designing lighting or sets, its good to have a computer there to make changes to you autocad file as you go, if necessary. Just a few of the many uses that laptops serve. They’ll never go out.

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