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IEEE preps notebook battery standard

Sooner the better

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International electronics standards organisation the IEEE is to draft a specification for rechargeable Lithium-based notebook batteries. If the draft becomes a standard, it will guarantee battery quality, reliability and safety.

And about time too. Those of us who are notebook users know that batteries often fail to deliver their specified performance, by never quite recharging to full capacity, for example.

We'd also ask the IEEE committee behind the draft, P1625, to consider issuing independent usage guidance. There certainly seems to be plenty of confusion among users. Should they frequently drain batteries, or will that harm the battery's longevity? Is it best to re-charge at full blast, or trickle-charge batteries while you're using your notebook? It's hard to find any consistent answers to questions like these.

The P1625 committee is backed by Dell, HP, Panasonic, Sony and other notebook vendors and user organisations. They meet this week to thrash out a draft specification, EBN reports. The IEEE says it hopes to publish the draft in May. The committee began work on the draft last October.

As yet there is no anticipated date for the final ratification of the specification as a standard.

The draft details battery construction and electrical characteristics. It also covers charging and discharging operations, and the information interface between battery and host system.

An IEEE standard will certainly help buyers weed out cheap or low-quality notebook batteries. That said, the testing that will be required to ensure compliance with the standard may result in more expensive batteries as the extra costs are passed on to the consumer.

That seems a small price to pay for the certainty that your battery is going to perform as sold and you won't find your notebook dying on you midway through a flight. ®

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