Like many of you, I use a laptop computer for all of my day-to-day desk-based computing needs. The majority of the time it is plugged in and sitting on the desk in my office. I have a smartphone, tablet, and even a netbook that I use for “out and about” computing. So I’d owned my new laptop for quite awhile before I tried to use it unplugged. I knew I’d never see the 6 hours of battery life that was promised in-store, but I was a bit surprised to see the little power indicator show that it wouldn’t last much more than an hour-and-a-half unplugged.
This is a laptop running Windows 8, maybe Macs have a way to do this automatically. The first place I looked was the power meter icon and realized that it was set to High Performance mode. I switched it to Balanced mode and that increased the time a slight bit. Those were the only two options I could see. I knew there was also a Power Saver mode, but that took more clicking that I could do from the power meter. I had to go into the Control Panel and monkey around with options there. I quickly became frustrated that there wasn’t a way to easily flip between High Performance mode, for when I was plugged in and at my desktop and wanted the fastest possible computer, and Power Saver mode, for when I was running off the battery and wanted the longest possible battery life.
I started by searching the interwebs for an easy way to change the two options that came up from the power meter icon. It didn’t take me a ton of searching to find out that Microsoft had decided for me that I only needed two power mode options and that one of them must always be Balanced, a mode that balances power usage and performance. Why buy a high performance machine if I’m going to throttle it back most of the time? So there wasn’t an easy way to switch between the two modes I wanted to switch between.
Back to the interwebs for more searching. Before too long I stumbled upon BatteryCare.net and the free (donation appreciated) BatteryCare app that easily lets me choose between any power plans I have, as well as showing me the CPU (Central Processing Unit) temperature and the HDD (Hard Disk Drive) Temperature. The best feature is that it will automatically choose a power plan based on whether or not the computer is plugged in. Perfect!
This was better than what I was looking for. Why should I even have to make a change at all? The computer knows if it is plugged in or running off the battery. So let the computer decide which power mode to operate in. Now, when I’m plugged in, it sets itself to the High Performance mode and, when I’m running off the battery, it sets itself to Power Saver mode. If I need a different mode for some reason, I can always override these automatic behaviors.
There are also settings to change what information is displayed, calibrate the battery for longer overall battery life, and the option to replace the system notifications for low battery. It’s a great app, I’ve liked it on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/batterycare), and I will likely make a donation to support it at some time in the future.