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Royal Reports » Featured, Higher Education, K12, Trends » Battery Life: Beyond the Gorilla Glass

Battery Life: Beyond the Gorilla Glass

I don’t care what device; battery life should be number 1 on your checklist. Great price means nothing if the device fades out fast.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to play around with, and use different computing devices—anchored, laptop, and pocket. Today, there is still nothing worse than a crash, or a power loss due to a poor battery. It always seems to catch you in the midst of something you consider really import. There are many devices out there with crazy-long, reliable battery life, but many settle for gadgets based on cool rather than battery-stamina robust.

From the first time I managed laptops on laptop carts for students and teachers, I realized the vulnerability of even the best programs due to battery drain. It’s fair to say, that from the very beginning of use, a battery’s life begins to wane. With laptops, having the ability to replace a battery was a lifesaver for me, although it was an expense that I had to explain, yearly, as an upkeep necessity. And try to explain using company replacements, rather than cheaper knock-offs for safety.

And with all my concern, I always received frantic teacher and student calls, during classes, about laptop crashes. Most of those crashes were directly related to batteries drained beyond—at that time—almost 3-hour capacity—if lucky. And that battery capacity was as different as the student personalities firing them up each day. I can’t tell you how many times I had to find a place to plug in the cord in order to keep a student working—on the most important project of his/her school life.

Today, the measure of how long a battery will allow us to work, is even more important, but I still look to see whether a battery can be replaced, and if not, what it takes to get that done. When Asus began putting out netbooks with absolutely, wonderfully-crazy battery life of 10 or more hours, I really thought the battery issue had been addressed. And as other manufacturers followed, the race for more battery life made me smile. And then came tablets.

I have to say that when Apple first launched its iPads I was concerned with not being able to get to the battery for replacement. When I got an iPad, I began to think that I could put up with a closed box, because of the battery life I was getting, and all the functionality, which played from that battery. Now, with the New iPad, there’s a built-in battery charging conditioner, I guess you’d call it, that actually charges max, and then drops, and then charges—sort of a battery training session. While it may read not fully charged, it is. Pretty cool technology. That battery won’t overcharge and overheat. Now, having said all that, I’m not sure what I’ll think if a year from now, when my iPad’s battery meets its maker—so to speak.

Believe me, I’ve really tried to give other tablets, including the smaller ones, a try. I’ve tried Windows, and Android, too. Here’s the thing, my experience has been that the battery life is awful. I recently tried a 7-inch tablet, which was more smartphone, and even considering it as a cell phone, it wouldn’t make the cut. I was doing absolutely nothing and could only tweak out 3 hours from the battery, and it was a battery that had no access. Now, that last bit, about no battery access is important in another way. Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to remove a battery because a device froze. Well, this pretty, little Android wouldn’t react to any prompting when frozen, so I reverted to pressing the start button, holding, and praying—just like I did in the old days, when the computers were the size of a Mini-Cooper.

So, what’s the battery have to do with it? Well, there are plenty of great applications on Windows and Android devices that I absolutely love, and would use, but if after 3 hours or so, the device becomes a rock, it’s not worth the risk. We are relying on these devices, and actually they have become a part of us each moment of our waking day, so great battery life really isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity, and more than that, if we don’t get it in a device, it’s almost an insult. We’re not buying just shiny, we’re buying reliably useful.

With school districts deciding how to find money to stay within budget, and figuring out ways to keep educators, as well as stepping up to Common Core requirements, school tech devices whether purchased, leased, or BYOT must be battery strong. There is no way districts will ever be filling drawers, like so many consumers, with old smartphones, in order to upgrade to the next and latest, every 6 months. So, while applications, ease of use, and quick to discover WiFi are certainly on the list, the power of the battery is  a crucial. Look beyond the glossy gorilla glass.

Written by

34-year veteran educator, ed tech author, and education marketplace reporter.

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