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IBM 600 Series Laptops and Flaky Batteries? 457

netdemonboberb asks: "I don't know where else we should turn, because no site will write articles on [this subject] and IBM is denying that their IBM 600 series laptops have flaky batteries. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute distributed these laptops to freshman students in 1999 and almost everyone I knew in my class had this issue. Ralph Levien's page has suggested it appears to be an issue with the 'Smart Monitoring' circuitry. I'm writing this article to get the issue out in the open so IBM can no longer deny it. These batteries are expensive, and I have had to replace mine 4 times already. Can anyone who reads/maintains slashdot help or provide any advice on getting resolution for this?" I must say that from personal experience, I've wondered if this might be the case as well. I have an IBM Thinkpad 600e laptop and I've already gone through 2 batteries. The laptop is currently inactive as it must be tied to the wall if it is to be used. Has anyone else experienced shorter-than-average battery life using these laptops? Were you able to do anything to improve the battery life?
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IBM 600 Series Laptops and Flaky Batteries?

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  • by madfgurtbn ( 321041 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @04:51PM (#5191033)
    I have an old Fujitsu from 1996 that still holds a good charge, but I also have an IBM thinkpad that someone gave me, I'm guessing it's about a 1998 or 1999 model and the battery is stone dead.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I have a Toshiba 4280ZDVD that I got in March of 2000 that has been used heavily since, at least 5 days a week), both for travel and in the docking station. Still has the original battery. Still goes for about an hour and half without PCMCIA use.

      I've also got an old Panasonic laptop from 1996, which can run about 40 minutes on the original battery with a WiFi card installed. Not great, but hardly as bad as what they're describing with these Thinkpads, either.

      My experience, based on the use of several laptops and speaking with others, is that every laptop will have a severe fall-off in battery life after around the year-and-a-half point -- but that doesn't seem to be what they're describing here. If it doesn't hold a charge after less than three years, it sure does sound like something funny's going on at IBM.

      But let's give IBM credit here. I mean, it's not like IBM has ever had this type of trouble with their other consumer products before. I'm sure if they did, they'd fess up to it right away.

      • I wish this article had a few more details so that we can actually compare this to others experiences. I have a few questions:

        How many charge/discharge cycles did the battery go through? (3 yrs of use could be 1000 cycles, or could be 2)
        How often were these laptops just left plugged in for days. (NiMH batteries are prone to the "memory" effect. Only let the battery discharge 2% and then recharge it repeatedly leaves a battery that can only be discharged 2%)
        How long do the batteries get left dead? (Discharging any rechargeable pack does not usually discharge all the cells. One cell will be ~0 volts, another will be 0.5 Volts, this results in the 0.5 volt cell attempting to "charge" the ~0 volt cell backwards and next thing you know, the 12 volt pack will only do 10.5 volts)

        I have had similar problems with cordless razors, Radio battery packs, etc. I realize that I abuse my battery packs a lot. I leave batteries in the car where they go through 60 degree changes in temperature overnight. I leave them in equipment on the "charger" for days on end. I let them completely discharge and stay that way for weeks. All of this means I buy battery packs a lot! I usually take my battery pack down to the local battery place and have them crack it open, change the cells, and glue it back together. (It's a lot cheaper and I usually get more mAh because I use the latest/greatest cell to replace the old one) I also get my twice yearly lecture on taking care of the batteries.

        As much as we would like to blame "Big, Bad, IBM", is this really IBM, or is this a bunch of battery packs being pushed beyond their limits. Would the battery from a Toshiba or Panasonic last as long under the same conditions?
    • by macdaddy357 ( 582412 ) <> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:29PM (#5191401)
      I am a repair technician, and have personally serviced hundreds of thinkpad 390s, and 600s. My co-workers and I say IBM stands for I Bought a Mistake. The batteries are indeed garbage. That is why on units with a three year warranty, the battery only has a one year warranty. If they would only last that long, it would be an improvement.

      The worst are the Ni-mh (nickel metal hydride) batteries. When I was servicing a pool of 390s for a life insurance company, IBM first denied there was a problem, then released a software utility to cycle the batteries which would allegedly restore their capacity, then IBM replaced them all with Lithium Ion batteries. When the insurance company eventually bought new laptops, they still bought "stinkpads."

      Businesses still buy IBM hardware because of name recognition. They figure that the biggest must be the best. These decisions are made by suits whose VCRs flash 12:00, and who never ask any technical people for advice. As long as this is true, IBM will keep selling garbage. They know that suckers will buy their name.

      • Sigh...

        All too true. Our campus standardized on IBM laptops as well. They're adequate I suppose, but I certainly wouldn't put them anywhere near the league of my current favorite models (Toshiba).

        As insult to injury, they also decided to standardize on:

        - Lotus Notes (Anyone read the now-defunct interface hall of shame? Lotus Notes breaks every established interface rule that would normally result in "ease of use" for a user.)


        - Lexmark Laser Printers (with the good ol' DMCA anti-refill chip in them).

      • Can you give some reference on other systems you've maintained and what their battery life was like? Sure, hundred of Thinkpads may have lousy battery life, but suppose that those hundreds of Thinkpads are just like thousands of laptops the world over? Then what's the big deal? Batteries, in general, don't last forever. And just because you don't like the battery doesn't mean the laptop is awful. Corporations buy Thinkpads because they're some of the best laptops made and they're willing to pay for it (Thinkpads aren't cheap). I have a T21 and have been very pleased with it. It's compact, fairly lightweight, and has never given my any problems.
    • by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:35PM (#5191444) Journal
      IBM actually distributes a "maintenance and care" flyer with their new Thinkpad's. It clearly states that the battery is a consumable item with performance tapering over the useful life. As far as I am concerned, the 600 series batteries lasted much longer than the Compaq's or Dell's, which go bad after about a year.

      Since the battery warranty is only good for one year, it helps to simply call it in for repair at this point. Or get the Best Buy 4-year service contract. I've had them replace a stack of 600 series batteries over this kind of time frame.
  • My Thinkpad 560 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by msgmonkey ( 599753 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @04:51PM (#5191040)
    I've got a 560 and used it mainly connected to the mains. My battery died very fast as it seems the TP would keep the battery topped up even if you was using mains power. Upgrading to the latest BIOS fixed the problem but I still had to shell out for a new battery (as mentioned, not cheap).

    • I also have a 560x and the battery died very quickly after I got it. I haven't bothered looking into getting a replacement or what went wrong because it hardly gets used and mainly just sits plugged into the wall anymore.
  • by TheCrazyFinn ( 539383 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @04:52PM (#5191043) Homepage
    These laptops are 3-4 years old. Laptop batteries last 1-2 years under moderate use, less if you recharge more often (Heavily used ones last under 6 months sometimes).

    Where's the problem?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2003 @04:57PM (#5191094)
      Your standard nimh cell should last for over 1000 discharge/charge cycles and will not be affected by "topping up" (read unlike nicd memory problem).

      Even if you killed your battery and charged it every day this battery should still last close to 3 years. This guys talking about 4 batterys. Thats completely unacceptable.

      On another note my compaq presario 1210 model had a zillion power problems with the smart monitoring stuff. But that was more in the fact that the computer would not charge the battery as it always thought it was full.
      • by msgmonkey ( 599753 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:10PM (#5191220)
        Thinkpads use lithium ion cells which have an average cycle life of only 500. You can get ones which reach upto 2000 cycles but they tend to be very specialized.
        • I attend RPI and have a T22 from 2001-2002 freshman class, and after 180 cycles the battery is completely dead. After less than 20 min of runtime it is wasted and according to IBM's battery monitor it only has the ability to hold 7.52Wh of power when it is designed to hold 38.88Wh of power.

          I used the thing on battery every other day last year and didn't have problems until I hit around the 100 cycle mark, after that it has been downhill. Maybe a marketing ploy to get ppl to buy batteries?

          Does IBM have part ownership in everready? or duracell??

    • You have got to be kidding me!
      I only get 12 months on these batteries?
      That would explain why my battery life is so low...
    • If you read the article, he said he has had to replace the battery 4 times. That would seem to be a problem to me.
    • by mess31173 ( 462954 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:01PM (#5191143) Homepage
      Wrong. The more you use your battery the longer they last. If you have a laptop and never take it out of the dock (like tons of users in my office building) after a few years the battery will be shot. But if you take it off the dock and use it without being plugged in (ie. only on battery power) the batterys tend to last a LOT longer. I have seen perfectly fine working laptop batterys from the mid and early 90's and others that are just a few years old that don't work worth a Beowolf cluster....

      • Well agreed. My Dad gave me his 1yr old HP laptop after he used it as a desktop or plugged into the wall full time. The battery lasts 15 mintues on average as a result. Oh well. Beggars cannot be choosers.
      • Exactly, the more you use it on the docking cradle, never taking it off the quicker the battery will die. If you use in on the wall ALL the time, then you should make sure that at least 2x a week you let it toally drain and totally recharge (pwered off for this recharge). Batteries needed to be worked out to keep there condition....oh wait, this is /. no one here knows anything about working out ;)
      • by darkwiz ( 114416 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @06:53PM (#5192078)
        Ok, once again I feel compelled to add something to a battery discussion.

        First: The single worst thing you can do for a normal battery pack is to run it all the way down. You'll almost certainly reverse some of the cells, which will KILL the overall battery life (one bad cell in the group will cause a dramatic shelf effect on the available current).

        Leaving it on the charger continuously is generally believed to be a bad thing as well (causing things like crystalline growth), but exercise, not exhaustion, is a good practice.

        The main problem here is that no two cells are alike. If the cells discharge asymmetrically, they'll recharge asymmetrically as well. You end up with a cell or two in the pack that is still not completely charged when the rest are. Since the voltage is still not at the peak, the charger continues dumping current in which damages the full cells. If you take it off prematurely, the cells with more charge will damage the cells that didn't completely charge.

        The problem is : as long as the cells are charged and discharged in series - this is basically unavoidable. You'll get the best cell life out of charging and discharging them in parallel. However, this is more expensive - and therefore no manufacturers use it.
    • by cobbaut ( 232092 ) <> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:17PM (#5191280) Homepage Journal
      I don't know what you mean by average use. Back in 2000 we had about 18 of those Thinkpad 600 laptops, some owners are developers, other are sales, other are managers. ALL of the batteries were replaced within one year, and again most of them a second time within the next year.

      I still have this laptop (Pentium 2-266), attached to the power. I'm not buying a third battery for it, it really is too expensive.

      On the other hand, nothing but good comments on the Thinkpad series!

      cheers from Belgium
    • by mfarver ( 43681 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @06:00PM (#5191677) Journal
      I worked support for Dell's portable computers a year ago. Dell warrenties batteries for 1 year and expects then to fail after 1.5-2 years. The life span is mostly based on usage, more cycles, shorter life. However, batteries that are never used will still fail in about the same time frame. (The engineers were always denying this, but my guess would be it is because the system gives the battery a short charge everytime it is turned on) If you use the system often, four batteries in as many years is pretty average (most power users get less than a year). IBM and dell use batteries from the same manufacturer(s) so I'd expect simialr results. (heck, if we're being honest, almost every laptop sold is built by one company on one assembly line).

      My $.02 USD

  • by ruiner13 ( 527499 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @04:53PM (#5191055) Homepage
    If this is as widespread as it would appear, it's just a matter of time before someone works up the nerve to file a class action lawsuit. If I were you (and IANAL), i'd keep any paperwork IBM has sent you disputing your claim of a faulty product. It may help you to settle the matter if it ever does go to court.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2003 @04:54PM (#5191061)
    It appears that the batteries are designed incorrectly and cannot handle the type of current draw typically seen with laptop use.

    Many battery manufacturers design generic cells and current regulators and package them in carriers that are specified by the PC manufacturer. In this case the current regulators are to blame as they have difficulty dealing with minor variations in current required by the laptop's power supply. In particular, systems with less than robust power management, Linux for instance, literally suck the regulators to death.

  • by moc.tfosorcimgllib ( 602636 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @04:55PM (#5191069) Journal
    I would suggest contacting the Better Business Bureau [] to get these complaints addressed.

    • by Maeryk ( 87865 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:08PM (#5191205) Journal
      I would suggest contacting the Better Business Bureau [] to get these complaints addressed.

      SNORT! Have you ever contacted the better business bureau? I have. I was told they dont do anything to companies/about companies that that dont honor their claims, advertise truth, etc. etc. I was actually told that as long as the companies continue to pay their "listing fee" with the BBB, the BBB could care less what the company is actually doing.

      Dude.. the BBB is a money maker for the BBB, and a trap for gullible people who believe that moniker means something.

      In reality, you should send a polite letter to Consumer Reports and see if they are interested, or to one of your local muck-raking news reporters looking to do a human interest story.


      • or to one of your local muck-raking news reporters looking to do a human interest story.

        Yeah, that would be a ratings grabber. "Is your laptop battery going to malfunction in a shorter time period than one might expect? Full report at 10; it might just save your life!"
    • Actually, the BBB exists for the "Business" and not
      the consumer. I swear their role is specifically to
      "make the annoying consumer shut the fuck up and
      take some sort of pitiance and go away" instead of
      actual problem resolving. They tend to pretend they
      are some sort of government sanctioned agency,
      which they ARE NOT, instead of the private company
      they are. Your absolute best course of action is:

      #1 check all company's out at
      before making a purchase. And a note: just because
      they have a high rating doesn't mean you shouldn't
      read the comments posted by prior customers, and
      you shouldn't pay special attention to how good
      they are at refunds/replacements. A lot of these
      fly-by-night companys have high ratings, but
      extremely low ratings for warrantee service. As
      long as what you get from them works, great. But
      you can be SOL if you get sent something broken.

      #2 If you do get screwed, use google to find out
      what state the company does business in, and
      contact that states ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE for
      consumer affairs. Almost all states have an online
      complaint filing system. The good thing about
      going through the AG is that your complaint will
      stay on file forever. The next person that files
      a complaint will add to the pile, and they'll
      notice. I've had 4 experiences recently with the
      AG's consumer affairs offices in NJ, NY, CA, and
      TX, and they ALL got me my refund/replacements
      within a month. They all have an online fraud
      complaint filing system. Hope this helps.
  • by Slightly Askew ( 638918 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @04:55PM (#5191080) Journal
    They asked me to run this utility they had (don't remember name, sorry), and send them back the text file results. I did so, they sent me a new battery (under warranty), haven't had a problem since. We have several (hundreds) of these 600's and haven't noticed anything out of the ordinary...just your average bad battery, bad LCD, etc. in the regular quantities.

    Could it be that certain "lots" of batteries or laptops were bad? We have upgraded most of these to the T23 model, so I don't have one handy to check manufacture dates. Perhaps someone else who has had little or no problems can give you some dates.


    Am I the only one who thinks Tux is as creepy as the clown on Poltergeist?

  • Me too (Score:3, Informative)

    by merlin_jim ( 302773 ) <James,McCracken&stratapult,com> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @04:55PM (#5191082)
    I've also had this problem. I use an IBM Thinkpad 600 at work and the battery dies on me when I undock. It says it's just fine, but within minutes warns me that the battery is about to die, very similar to the report in the linked article.

    It starts out fine with a new battery and gets progressively worse. I asked our helpdesk about it, and the helpdesk representative said that this sytem occasionally needs to be unplugged and the battery allows to run down, indicating this is a memory effect of some kind. His advice was once every 2 weeks, and he indicated that IBM suggested this to him. I'm a consultant but we have contracts both with external clients, and with clients who are sister companies. It is not uncommon therefore for me to not need to undock my laptop for months at a time.

    I've gone through 2 batteries in a year. The batteries last about a month, after which I start dragging my power adapter around with me while the paperwork gets filled out for a new battery. This one died about 6 months ago, but my laptop is (and has been) scheduled for replacement since then so I haven't bothered to get it replaced.
  • a 600e (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kailden ( 129168 )
    I've had a variety of IBM its hard to keep track. I did have a 600e and if i used the battery, I always let it run completely out on the battery before plugging it back in...and I never had any problems with it. I've carried that practice on from the early days of laptop computing...where batteries had a memory of sorts that if oyu kept recharging them when they were halfway full you'd end up with the 50% of the battery being the active aprt, and the other 50% would be forgotten about, and un rechargable. I'm not sure if that is still the case in the newer thinkpads like the 600e though. Just an old habit. Anyone an expert on battery types?
  • iBooks too (Score:4, Informative)

    by giminy ( 94188 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @04:58PM (#5191108) Homepage Journal
    Not an IBM, but apple's ibooks have the same problem. The dropoff point on the battery goes up and up and up (for fun I held onto my last one until you unplugged it, the battery discharged to 97% before going dead). I was wondering if it was a charging problem or if there is a common li-ion battery manufacturer who is at fault...maybe a common manufacterer makes the same battery charging components for IBM and Apple, though?

    You can have a look here [] for some reports of the dead batteries (though most of the people there are blaming it on jaguar, I run linux on my ibook and have had the problem twice).

    So stick it to apple while you're at it, eh? Of course if you're smart, buy the extended warranty. It will cost apple a lot more money to give you an extra battery every 3 months for 3 years than it will to fix/replace your ibook probably. Might as well teach them a lesson...
    • My wife's ibook is an original blue one. She still gets 3+ hours out of the battery. Enough for her to work on a plane from west to east coast without a charge.
      • Ah. I should have mentioned; the problem seems confined the newer white (aka dual-usb) ibooks. I'd actually prefer a slower ibook if it meant that I could take it on the road without worrying about battery life...

        • My iBook (dual USB) is a little over a year old and tha battery still lasts between 2.5 - 3.5 hours depending on what I'm doing, just like when it was new. Maybe I'm just lucky. (ANd I don't cycle it often, it's plugged in 90% of the time.) I've had really good luck with my Inspiron too... it's almost two years old and I still get right at 4 hours (dual batteries.)

    • Re:iBooks too (Score:3, Insightful)

      So stick it to apple while you're at it, eh? Of course if you're smart, buy the extended warranty. It will cost apple a lot more money to give you an extra battery every 3 months for 3 years than it will to fix/replace your ibook probably. Might as well teach them a lesson...

      Alas, the Extended Warranty doesn't cover batteries. See here (PDF) [].That falls under 'consumables and wear and tear', along with worn out keys and sticky mouse pointers. To quote:

      The plan does not cover:

      repair, replacement, or maintenance of items that have been subject to wear and tear, such as cases, key caps, knobs, handles, batteries or mechanical parts.
      So don't expect them to warranty-replace a flat battery unless they issue a recall notice for a defective batch (like Dell did back in 2000 for some of their Latitude batteries).
    • Re:iBooks too (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Knobby ( 71829 )

      I have a 15" 1GHz Ti PowerBook that I bought just before Christmas.. I used it for about a week and was a little frustrated that the maximum charge percentage that I could reach dropped to 99% within two days and 98% by the end of the week..

      Here's where things get a little strange..

      After that first week, I hopped on a plane and flew to Japan for 3 weeks. The battery reading charged right up to 100%..

      Now that I'm back in the US, my battery is back to a max charge of 99%. I'm betting that the power system in the US is just dirty enough that it's affecting our batteries.

      To add more support to this idea, my iPod (5GB) battery life had dropped to 6 hours of use before the trip to Japan. On the return leg, it lasted almost the entire 11 hour flight.. Both the PB and iPod batteries seemed to be rejuvenated by the Japanese power system (Note: Japan uses the same power standard as the US).

      • Re:iBooks too (Score:3, Interesting)

        by David Gould ( 4938 )
        Wow. I was going to moderate on this story, but I found a thread interesting enought that I have to comment; gotta find someplace else to blow that last point.


        My WallStreet PBG3 is close to five years old. I'm on my third battery -- on the first two, the LEDs don't even light up anymore. At first, I was getting about three hours per battery (and I was using both bays, so it could run close to six hours). After a couple years, the cells had (I guess) degraded a bit, to maybe 2.5 hours per battery.

        That was before I installed Mac OS X (which I've been running since the first Public Beta (which really should have been called an "Alpha", but that's another topic)). The time per battery immediately dropped to about 1 hour -- it happening so suddenly must mean that the system is just more power-hungry (not cycling down the CPU, virtual memory keeping the HD (almost) always spinning, etc.).

        That much would be almost okay, I guess, but get this: while the machine is asleep and unplugged the fan runs -- it stops when I plug it in and starts again when I unplug it, all while it's asleep. Weirdest bug I've ever heard of -- I don't even know how they could have made it do that if they tried, but there it is. It's really awful for several reasons: first, it runs down the battery pretty fast while sleeping. Even worse, it increases the risk of losing power completely. I find that after it puts itself to sleep, I have about fifteen minutes to reach an outlet if I want it to recover. Still worse, I suspect that the frequent shallow cycles (as it drains a couple percent while I carry it around unplugged for a couple hours and then plug it back in) are real murder on the battery, causing it to degrade even faster than otherwise. Within a year, the older battery wouldn't charge at all and the newer one was already pretty bad.

        Since then, that one has died completely and I've tried to avoid using battery power at all, to preserve this new one.

        About the only-charging-to-98% thing: I suspect that that's actually a good thing -- something they did on purpose to reduce the shallow-cycle problem. I've noticed that mine doesn't start charging unless it's below 95% when I plug it in, but then it'll go all the way to 100% (or even 101%) -- the effect is to combine several shallow cycles into one slightly deeper one.

        The (other) worst thing is that when it dies, it does it abruptly, with zero warning, sometimes while the meter is reading near full -- usually 50-60%, but once as high as 87%.

        I'd assume that the power drain during sleep is a matter of incomplete support for such an old model, and that the newer iBooks and PBG4s would be better that way, even if X is still such a power-hog. I would have hoped the battery longevity would be better too -- good thing I didn't buy that new iBook yet; I wonder if the new 12" PBG4 is any better.
  • Define "average"? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maeryk ( 87865 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @04:59PM (#5191123) Journal
    I have deployed and supported both Thinkpad 600 and 600X configurations, and Dell Latitude 366 and 300 MHZ models, and they all seem to have batteries that last just over a year.

    Literally, to the point that we will get a sudden surge.. six or so a week, of stone dead batteries. A little digging on my part led me to believe that the six came in together as well, and they usually died a little bit over a year after purchase. (Note, this is a "little bit" after the warranty.. batteries are warranted for one year from date of purchase of the LAPTOP not the battery, at least here.)

    Now, the IBM's have a charging circuit that keeps the battery "conditioned". Would this kill a battery in a year? Probably. WHat I know a lot of people do is ONLY put the battery in if they are going to use it off AC. Charge it for an hour before you need it, and run it down. When you get back to your desk, pop the battery out, and dock without the battery.. that seems to be the "rage" as rumored by our customers who have traveled to Japan, where they claim people do this.

    YMMV, but as a tech who supports about 1K of these things, yeah.. the batteries die in a year, and yeah, the IBM party line is "this is normal".

  • SR11k battery life (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:00PM (#5191127)
    I have a vaio SR11k. The battery is slowly degrading (down to 120 minutes from initial 150 minutes a year ago), but the interesting thing is that at the beginning the charge reported by the BIOS (APM) was almost linear, now I get the last 60 (!) minutes of operation in the last 4% of detected battery charge.

    My solution to this is ext3 (I mostly run Linux on it) and just running it until it goes down by itself. If the IBMs have similar behaviour, but force a power-off at, say, 10% detected charge, an equivalent battery would be good for only about 30 minutes instead of the 2 hours I get.

    Side note: I am not using the laptop that often, maybe 2 times per week on battery.
  • yes indeedy. (Score:3, Informative)

    by klocwerk ( 48514 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:02PM (#5191147) Homepage
    I support these laptops (600e, 600x) as part of the computing infrastructure of a large american corporation.

    Yes. Their batteries suck ass.
    we replace them after a year of use, that's just unacceptable.

    We have since moved to compaq for all of our computer sourcing, and they're much better.

    Their laptops just have physical design flaws that don't allow them to work with their docking stations half of the time without cutting notches in the case. much better battery life. :o)
  • by bryan1945 ( 301828 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:03PM (#5191156) Journal
    We had a bunch of 600 and 600e's at work, and one by one the batteries died. We had a 3 year warrantee deal, and it was ok for about 2-2.5 years. Then, they stop honoring dead batteries! I don't know if our tech help didn't protest or tell the right people in our company, but I was told "IBM won't honor the warrantee, your group or you personally will have to buy a new battery". Just out and out said, too bad. WTF! Since I was the last one to have such an old laptop, no one really cared to raise a stink about it.

    We generally get good service from IBM, but the techs said that IBM was blowing off these batteries because they all started dying after 1.5-2.5 years, and they figured they ALL were going to go bad.

    This sounds like the car manufacturer beancounter stories- how much to fix all the problems vs. how much in potential lawsuits. And how many people are going to press a lawsuit for a $100-$200 battery?

    The worst part is the battery is dead, the hard drive is physically failing, it's slow as molasses, but since it still works I can't get an upgrade! How many seconds in a microwave....?
    • Just back up your important stuff on floppies or whatever, and accidentally knock it off your desk. Presto! new laptop!
    • On a long enough time line the life of every battery drops to zero.

      I was a recall coordinator. My job was to apply the formula. Take the number of notebooks in the field, A. Multiply it by the probable rate of failure, B. Then multiply the result by the average out of court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

      "Are there a lot of these kind of failures?"

      You wouldn't believe.

      "Which computer company do you work for?"

      A major one.


      Very . . . modern art.
  • by Patik ( 584959 ) <cpatik@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:05PM (#5191165) Homepage Journal
    I entered RPI a year later and got a T20 notebook and have had the same problems. While I haven't had to replace the battery, it only works long enough to boot Windows and go into sleep mode. Most of my friends also have this problem, and we all took care in properly charging the batteries. Seems like it's an Thinkpad problem, not just a 600 problem.
  • by baine ( 600693 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:05PM (#5191173) Homepage Journal
    I've had 2 TP 600's (a PII-266 TP 600, and a PII-366 600e), both used. The 600 came with a battery that it seemed wouldn't die, and the 600e came with a dead battery.

    It seems this is not an unusual situation, if you spend a little time looking around on eBay. Here's how to avoid trouble :

    1. Do a search for 'dead Thinkpad 600 battery', and note the FRU#'s.
    2. Do not buy a replacement battery that matches one of those numbers. It's just a matter of time. If it's not dead already, it will be.

    I don't know the FRU# on it (process of elimination following step 1 above will tell you which ones are ok), but it's my recollection that they fixed this problem. You just have to find the right battery.
  • 'Tute Screw (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:07PM (#5191190)
    Yet another example of the old 'Tute Screw! (all -1,Offtopic mods indicate that you didn't go to RPI)
  • Apparently the battery issue is caused by over charging and top-up charging. I'm told you can avoid the problem by charging the battery while the laptop is switched off - and once the charging light turns from amber to green, disconnect the power and run the laptop from the battery or remove the battery and run the laptop from mains. You don't have to worry so much about proper charge cycles with these batteries, just give it a complete cycle once a week or so (for a heavily used machine).

    It mightt be possible to recondition a dodgy battery by discharging/charging it fully - the problem is, the laptop won't run at all on a battery which reports itself empty, so you can't discharge it that way. I had an idea to make a little device which will draw a steady current from the battery until it's really empty - not being much of an electronics geek, I'm rather worried about causing a fire :)

    • I had an idea to make a little device which will draw a steady current from the battery until it's really empty

      This is pretty simple to do - the battery should have four (maybe three) terminals, and as someone else noted above, if you cover a couple, that isolates the power meter check function from the laptop. Now, you could just continue to run the laptop until the battery is dead, but this could be bad for data/memory/etc (computers do odd things when voltage gets low - sometimes odd and *bad* things).

      So, pull out the battery, find the terminals that supply the power, and hook something up to them - a smallish DC motor with a piece of tape wrapped on the shaft (for air drag) will draw enough current, but if you really wanted to do it quickly, drop a 10-watt sand power resistor across the terminals, and point a fan at it (it will get DAMN hot, hot enough to burn if you don't cool it down with something - if you want to be extra careful, clamp a heatsink/fan combo onto the resistor - power the fan with the battery, too!)...

      I would also monitor the voltage level with a meter as well, you probably don't want to drain it all the way to zero, just close to it (1-2 volts). Finally, realize that the quicker you discharge the battery, the more it will heat up, and it could also become damaged in the process. Cool the battery down, and watch it carefully (don't hook this up and go to bed/the store/etc).

      After it is discharged, let it cool down, check the voltage (and if it is too high, discharge again), then once the voltage is low enough, put it in the laptop and recharge it...

  • by Tafs ( 624899 )
    This happened to my 600-Something too.
    More information can be found here [], it even explains how to get some more life out of your battery.
  • Is to make sure to be extra abusive to your
    batteries so they die well in advance of the
    seemingly standard 1 year warrantee. That way
    you get a fresh battery before the warrantee
    wears out.
  • Li-Ion Battery stats (Score:4, Informative)

    by tacocat ( 527354 ) <tallison1@tw m i . r r . c om> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:15PM (#5191262)

    OK, I just checked some stats on my batteries for fun...

    • Model: IBM Thinkpad A21M, Debian installed
    • Batteries: Internal Li-Ion and Ultra-Bay Li-Ion

    Between the two of them I have a design capacity of 38.88 + 34.56 Wh. In reality I have a functional full-charge capacity of 20.06 + 23.06 Wh respectively. I unplugged the power and I'm down to 19.54Wh + 22.06Wh in one minute.

    The discharge cycle counts are 144/329 respectively.

    Generally, it's about 2 hours of real use I get out of them, The calculated time is 4:14, but it's going to turn out a lot less than that.

    I don't know if this means I have a normal set of batteries or not, but I'm not as impressed with them as I used to be. I had hoped that Li-Ion was better than the Ni-Cd of yester year.

    At this rate, I can hardly code my way across the country. Originally I was able to run >7 hours of use.

  • Same story here. I have 2 different batteries that last about 30-40 minutes each. This is with Mandrake 9.0 running WindowMaker.

    Brand new battery in my co-workers machine (reason I have 2 crappy used batteries) lasts less than 2 hours running win98.

    The machine is great, save the batteries.

  • by narrowhouse ( 1949 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:19PM (#5191290) Homepage
    Try this. if you have one of these laptops that seems to have a short battery life (You'll notice, battery meters will say you have 100%, 95%, 90%, 85%, 80%, 75%, then suddenly 5%.) run until the battery is "dead". Then use tape to cover the two MIDDLE battery terminals these are the terminals that report the charge level back to the laptop. (there are 4 altogether). Put the battery back in and the laptop will start right up, I get another 30-40 minutes. Any battery monitors will report that you don't have a battery installed so you won't know how much time you have left, AND DO NOT CHARGE YOUR LAPTOP WITH THESE TERMINALS COVERED. The laptop will not detect when the battery is full and you can overcharge the battery permanently damaging it (not that it isn't screwed up already)
  • I have one of the 600x series, and i just had the battery replaced in mine (it died completely). It happened FAST too. The performance was never stellar (I got an hour tops out of the thing), but after awhile, I noticed it slowly going down.. 45 minutes.. 40... 35... finally it just failed to recharge. This was within the space of a few months.

    As for why, I have no idea. I generally kept the laptop plugged in, and only used the battery as a last resort. I got it replaced under the warranty, and the current one lasts a little over two hours, but I'm wondering how quickly that will diminish.
  • How about the "Acer Travelmate 312T" (310 Series). I had one die on me with power issues (wouldn't always turned on, would turn itself off, even with powersaving off). If I left it for a long time, it might come back to life for a day or two before problems resumed

    I retired my Acer until I saw one on ebay that had a cracked LCD. I bought the new one and transplanted the LCD... it worked awhile and then started experiencing the same power issues.

    Not 100% related, but along the same lines. Anyone else know of this or other laptop "cover-ups". For such expensive hardware, the warrantees and defects can sure suck.
  • Thinkpad 390+
    1st battery unusable after 1 year, no stats available
    2nd battery 10.8V, 4.8Ah, hasn't been able to power a system for more than 5 minutes in the past 2 years.

    1 year is *not* acceptable battery life. We have a 98 G3 ibook which still gets about 2 hours of MP3 playback, and a Dell ultralight (don't know the model, it isn't here right now) about 2 years old which still gets about 3 hours of use.

    Are they following the Gillette model?

  • by WinterSolstice ( 223271 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:27PM (#5191386)
    Not to toot my own horn, but I have two old laptops: 1) a Fujitsu 280dx, and 2) an IBM 365x.

    Both of these have a battery life under RH 7.2 of about 1.5 hours, which is about the same as they ever had. Both have been used constantly for years. The Fujitsu, in fact, has a flaky power plug, so it is frequently switching between AC and Battery power, yet it has no battery life issues.

    My point being, it is not all IBMs, all laptops, or even normal. If you're having an issue, report it to the company. If the company won't help, report it to the BBB.


  • I too have a 600 (for real use its 90% of the speed of a new laptop, better supported and so on...). Batteries seem to be a little better than the sony ones (SR1K battery is so bad I think its the last Sony product anyone who bought one will buy 8)). One thing that I found and while obvious might be worth saying. Keep your junk dead battery, use that when you are running off the mains for long periods of time.

    So far my best laptop for batteries has been the IBM PC110. The batteries lasted about four years a set and they are a standard (cheap!) camcorder battery part.

  • My Sony Vaio PCG-F250 has a similar problem. The battery can charge forever (the LED always shows "charging") and the system dies as soon as its plug is pulled.

    I'm also starting to see my iBook battery degrade, but at least the iBook battery is a third of the price of the Sony battery...

  • by ChrisKnight ( 16039 ) <merlin@ghostwhe e l .com> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:31PM (#5191415) Homepage
    I have a Sony laptop that uses the BP-7 battery, and its smart circuitry seems to have developed a bit of a problem as well. The battery charges, and according to PowerPanel has a 98% capacity charge. Within five minutes of use it has dropped to 10% and triggers an emergency suspend.

    Is two years use unreasonable for a battery that retails at over $200?

  • by kwoo ( 641864 ) <> on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:32PM (#5191421) Homepage Journal

    It's Raph, not Ralph. :)

  • My company has 35 Thinkpad 600s. These laptops have been great, and they have not had any unusual battery problems.
  • IBM ThinkPad 380XD (Score:2, Informative)

    by calib0r ( 546092 )
    I've had a 380XD for a few years now (bought it brand new), and every 6 to 12 months I have had to get a new battery, either IBM or OEM replacements. The laptop only gets used maybe once or twice a week, as it is a network testing machine, and I make sure to let the battery run down to about 10% before I charge it back up. There is definately somthing wrong with IBMs battery management system in their laptops. Additionally, a friend of mine has a newer ThinkPad (not sure which series, but it was purchased in fall of 2000) that suffers the same battery issues.
  • A portable battery pack, capable of plugging into your AC/DC adaptor slot. While some of these can be a bit bulky, there are others that will fit into the laptop bag well enough. They're nice when your laptop's battery is dying off, and you want longer lasting power. Some of them come with decent warantees so that you can expect a long lifetime as well.
  • by geirhe ( 587392 )
    I assume these laptops have LiION batteries?

    Have a look at Panasonic's [] LiION webpage. This is consistent with the other battery blurbs I have seen. LiION batteries have a cycle count of ">500", which means that someone who charges their laptop every day will have a dead battery fairly soon. This is the cost of not having to lug around NiMH batteries, which weigh about the double for the same capacity. NiMH would have lasted about twice as long, but then nobody would have bought the laptop because it was too heavy.

  • by RollingThunder ( 88952 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:38PM (#5191471)
    Dell's Inspiron batteries are only rated for 400 cycles (ctrl-f for "battery life") of charge/discharge. []

    That's not long at all, especially if you consider the transit commuter, using his laptop on the ride to and from the office - that's only 200 working days.

    I just wish I knew where the "1.5/3 hours" figure comes from though. Even brand new, I was lucky to get 45 minutes, and that's minimal hard drive activity... although I suppose Linux could just be sucking more power (more threads in the background or something) than Windows does.
  • ...and BOTH have had serious battery life problems, batteries go dead, and battery flakiness. IBM admitted it was their fault and replaced a battery for my ThinkPad 600. I still haven't sent in the ThinkPad 600x because I wasn't sure if this was the batteries themselves or the laptop.

    It's a shame, because these are otherwise the best laptops I've ever owned.

  • 600 bat life (Score:2, Informative)

    I have had my 600e for 3yrs now an am on my 4th battery. I find they last the longest when you don't leave the tp pluged in for extended periods of time. If I'm not traveling alot and my tp just sits on my desk pluged in after about 4-6 months the batt is shot. If I actually unplug it and take my tp home at night from a client that bat lasts about a year before I start running into issues. Anyway I always have 2 on hand, one being a good one and the other somewhere in between. Anyway I just ordered my 5th one today as well as a new cdrom drive as it seems to have just given out.
  • by InitZero ( 14837 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:52PM (#5191599) Homepage

    We bought over 120 IBM ThinkPad 600 and 600Es in 1998-2000. The ThinkPads are awesome machines except for the battery life. IBM has admitted to us (at least as much as IBM ever admits to anything) that there are some issues with the batteries and possibly even the charge controllers. They have been fairly good about swapping out batteries even those out of warrenty.

    If you or RPI is spending a few million dollars a year with IBM and aren't getting your batteries replaced, someone needs to lean on IBM.

    Of course, if you're not spending big bucks with IBM, suck it up. The battery is nearly four years old. How long did you expect it to last? Replacing the battery once a year doesn't sound that bad, does it?

    (After-market batteries are available for the 600-series. Rebuilds are also out there. You may want to check those out. They don't last any longer than the IBM batteries (since it seems to be the charge controller) but cost about half to 75% as much.)


    • If you or RPI is spending a few million dollars a year with IBM and aren't getting your batteries replaced, someone needs to lean on IBM.

      Ah, but that's the catch... RPI is buying spending millions on the thinkpads per year, but the laptops are effectively sold to the students as part of the first year's tuition. Thus, RPI is acting in the same capacity that, say Best Buy or Circuit City would be acting. They have no incentive to offer an extended warranty on the battery, and they're not responsible for repairing the machines during their servicable life since they don't own them any more! They've effectively made an extra $200/year expense for every single student.

      Of course, it might be advisable to get all of the students who've had these problems together to file a class action lawsuit. Since its a large quantity of individuals all concentrated in one area with good communication systems (and the Polytechnic would probably be interested in printing articles about it), you're very likely to get somewhere. I'd actually sue for an increased warranty period, such as 2 or 3 years as well as replacements of existing batteries with less than 50% capacity or so.

      Personally, as an aside, I'd say that any laptop battery that can't hold 50% charge 2 years after purchase was designed by the manufacturer to fail early.

  • A couple of things (Score:3, Informative)

    by martinde ( 137088 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:53PM (#5191609) Homepage
    Yes, I've got a 600e and it's eaten two batteries (and the third is starting on the downward curve.) It's a couple of years old, so I guess it's not that bad.

    However, a couple things to consider. There are at least three ways to get replacements from IBM. One is full retail - it's very expensive and not a good idea. Another is to call about the warranty, even if it's out of warranty. They offered to give me a battery for half price if I shipped them the old one. Lastly, if it's under warranty they'll send you a new one and a prepaid box to send the old one back.

    Another thing to consider when discussing rechargeable batteries is that you need to look and see what technology the battery in question is. Lots of people are spouting off stuff about full discharge, topping off, etc, but that's all a load if they don't know what kind of batteries you've got. NiMh != Nicads != Lithium Ion. Proper care of each is fairly different - Li Ion being the strangest. Do some googling and you can find articles about proper care for each type of battery.

    My 600E has/had Li Ion batteries and I was surprised to read one day that it damages them to discharge them below 40% capacity. Couple that with a fixed number of recharge cycles (where going from 95% to 100% counts as a cycle) and you see that any time you run on batteries, you should go down to 40% and then recharge.

    Also note that the latest BIOS for the 600E won't start a recharge cycle unless the battery is below 95%, which is a good thing. IBM also recommends that you upgrade the configuration utility when you call about the battery warranty - they claim somehow the newer version is better for the batteries as well.
    Given that I run Linux I have my doubts that it matters to me, but I did update it in case it tweaked some setting in the hardware.

    All in all I've been looking at a battery every 18 months as part of the cost of ownership. If that bothered me a whole lot, I'd take the batteries out unless I really needed them and store them however is appropriate for the technology.

    (Enough rambling for now ;-))
  • by Rasvar ( 35511 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @05:55PM (#5191638)
    For the 2000 600/600e's that my office is responsible for. That is over three years. We have seven other techs who have changed out about the same number. So in three years, we have had to change out over 1400 batteries.
  • I owned a Thinkpad 600 for about 1.5 years (with heavy battery usage in class) and never had a battery problem. I've also owned a Compaq laptop and currently have a Dell laptop (personal) and IBM T-23 (work) and have no battery problems.

    For all of my laptops, I made it a habit to discharge the battery to about 10% every two to three weeks and recharge it when the unit is off. If I'm not going to be using the battery I take it out and leave it in the laptop bag.

    Pretty simple but tedious. At the same time, however, I have not had to purchase a replacement battery for any laptop I've ever owned.

    As a side note, I gave my Thinkpad 600 to my mother about a year ago and she has never had a problem either. She still discharges the battery to 10% once a month and it is still in good condition.

  • Or used to until a couple of weeks ago, anyway this is all still valid...

    If your laptop is under warranty just send it in. The repair facility is not owned by IBM, and the policies are pretty lax. If you send in your laptop complaining of battery problems, 9 times out of 10 the tech will replace the battery without even testing it. If they should happen to test it and think you are wrong they are required to contact you before sending it back unrepaired. When they call, just bitch enough and you'll get your battery (but bitch in a polite tone of voice).
    The turn around time for the each unit is 24 or 48 hours, meaning your laptop can't be at the depot for any longer than the designated time (most are 48, but they try to do it in 24 anyway). This means that if you send in your laptop on Monday, you'll probably have it back by Thursday (and possibly Wednesday), and with a brand new battery. Note, this only works for units under warranty. If you purchased the extended warranty it will be honored. If your warranty has expired in the last 30 days that's ok too, you're still covered.
  • I have a umax Laptop. I have two batteries that won't hold a charge, at all, so it sits on the kitchen table plugged into the wall. Sure it's portable, but not wireless.
  • I've used a steady series of IBM thinkpads for the last several (6+) years. Overall they are great systems, particularly the higher end models. Pricy of course but generally among the best out there quality-wise. (I've also worked with Dells, Toshiba's and Compaqs so I've got significant time on other makes in case you wondered) If price isn't an issue I generally think Thinkpads are among the best choices to make. That said...

    I have to concur though that the batteries in the 600 series do seem to have problems. I bought a 600E for my dad a while back and it definitely goes through batteries more quickly than the 700 series I used to use at work or the T30 I have now. Right now he can get about 30 minutes of charge out of his system with a battery he bought just a few months ago.

    One thing I've taken to with my T30 is to use a second battery in the Ultrabay. Since I don't need my CD drive with incredible regularity I normally just run with 2 batteries. Best decision I've made. New the batteries could run for ~5.5 hours if I turned the screen brightness down. They've lost a little (expected) but still I can run without AC for 4-4.5 hours. If you have a thinkpad, get the second battery. Well worth the investment.
  • I probably fully discharge the Thinkpad battery 2 or 3 times a year but most of the time it's on AC power with the battery still installed. I now get just over 2 hours out of it now( used to get 2.5 hrs ).

    Are they using cheaper battery technology, bad charge circuits or are they pulling the razor/razor-blade sales tactic? Those batteries are not cheap at retail so if they died in less than 2 years.....

    Wait. I just realized also that I'm running a 120MHz CPU and todays CPU's are in the GHz range and will have to push alot more current through them when on battery power. It could take it's toll on the battery life.

    I still wouldn't doubt the razor-blade mentality of designing these to go bad faster to make money on replacement parts. It's the typical American business way of thinking. IMHO.

  • I have an HP Omnibook 800CT which I bought about four years ago when HP was having a make-them-go-away clearance sale. Small, cute, a bit slow by today's standards, but runs Linux great.

    The 800CT uses a LIon battery. In anticipation of possible battery problems, I purchased a spare, but it has never needed to be put to use. The original battery has maintained its charge life over the four years I've had it.

    HP had a truly gifted team designing the 800CT. It's a damn shame they abandoned it.


  • I was amazed to find that the battery in my relatively new Toshiba Satellite is the exact same model as in a friend's vintage 386 based model. The only difference is the total capacity (2600mAh as opposed to 4000mAh). Otherwise they are interchangeable. This makes replacement batteries plentiful and inexpensive, especially if you are willing to swap batteries more often. Newly manufactured replacements sell as low as $10 on Ebay. This is opposed to a scheme like IBM's where every model year has a new battery design. Smaller markets make for higher priced replacement parts.
  • While I ordered a new LION batterey for my Thinkpad i1400 from their 1-888-shop-ibm # - they have a nice disclaimer the sales person told me twice while I placed my order

    "Our prices are liable to change without notice and we make no guarantees with our batterey life after the limited warranty period"

    My options were either 1) don't buy the batterey and don't use my laptop or 2) Buy the batterey and hope it works for more than a day.
  • by Hanno ( 11981 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @07:46PM (#5192445) Homepage
    Laptop batteries are disposable components with a very limited lifetime. You will have to replace them after a year or two. Every manufacturer and every experienced user knows this. The same is true for AC adapters. These, too, are designed to break.

    Laptops are only just taking to grab the market, after desktop PCs have become commonplace and profit margins declined, the best profits are now in mobile computing.

    But I still wonder why we, the users, accept overpriced short-life batteries, after all these years.

    A few weeks ago, I wrote up a text for an online petition with a long list of reasons why we need an industry standard for laptop batteries [], similar to consumber electronics battery cells.

    Noone really showed interest, though, so I didn't expect enough people to join the cause and haven't started the actual petition.

    So again, I welcome your comments.

    (And I'm looking for someone willing to host the petition, too, since my puny web server isn't quite ready for that...)

  • by Galvatron ( 115029 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @09:09PM (#5192989)
    I had no idea laptop batteries died this frequently. I've got a Dell Latitude with two LiIon batteries, and they've been going good for a little over 3 years now. I use this laptop quite frequently, for taking notes in class, and it spends a fair amount of time off of wall current. I guess I only use it about 15 hours a week, is that low? Are we talking only 1 year for people who use their laptops 40+ hours a week?
  • by throwaway18 ( 521472 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @09:16PM (#5193029) Journal
    I had two Li batterys for my cheap CTX laptop. They started off lasting an hour, After six months they last twenty minutes and not long after were dead. Since I allways haul it around in its padded suitcase I got three
    6Volts 10AH lead acid batterys for about E30 total which fit in a section of the bag. Added about 1Kg to the weight. The mains PSU puts out 20V DC so the 18V from the batterys runs it nicly for about 10 hours. I made a little adaptor with a diode and a resistor so I can trickle charge the batterys with the laptop psu, though after a trip I usually put the batterys on proper charger.

    My laptop has a built in switching regulator and runs happily from 10.5V to 20V but some, like those Sony Vios I can't afford need, a regulated input.

    I hook the three batterys together with some short wire with spade connectors. I didn't want to put an inline fuse in each wire so if I ever get the connections seriously wrong there will be some fireworks that won't be appriciated on a packed train. :-O

    My years of ham radio, building electronic projects and seeing idiots
    weld spanners to industrial UPS battery stacks have taught me to be
    carefull with high-current batterys.

  • by FuryG3 ( 113706 ) on Thursday January 30, 2003 @09:31PM (#5193115)
    I went to dinner with a CEO at a johnson and johnson subsidiary company the other night, and we were taling about experiances with different laptops, ranging from dell to apple. I said that IBM makes quality laptops but for a premium (my personal experiance). He quickly said "oh god they don't, we purchased several hundred laptops from them and everyone has had a battery problem, and we're losing a rediculous ammount of money buying everyone new ones every few weeks".

    I didn't ask about the model numbers, but when I saw this article I just thought throw that out there.
  • by Blikbok ( 595309 ) on Friday January 31, 2003 @12:00AM (#5193926)
    Older laptops had batteries made of Nickel-Cadmium cells. Then Nickle-metal-hydroxide cells were introduced with more charge density. Then Lithium-ion cells with even more charge density. Each of this chemistries has different charge, discharge, and longevity characteristics.

    The basic gist of it is this:
    Lithium-ion has low maintenance, low self-discharge rate, and battery packs have built in circuitry to protect the pack from complete discharge and damage. I point you to the quote "Some capacity deterioration is noticeable after one year, whether the battery is in use or not."

    I have recently replaced the battery in my Dell laptop after it's 1.5th birthday. Pricy, but all the research I did indicated that that's the lifetime of the pack, wether used or not.
    Seriously, the (simple) replacement of a $100 part once a year for the life of a $1000-3000 device is part of the TCO.

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