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article imageLaptop companies accused of lying over battery life claims

By James Walker     Apr 3, 2017 in Technology
Leading manufacturers are overestimating the battery lives of their products in a way that could mislead customers, a study has found. Consumer rights group Which? warned the numbers on the box don't reflect what a typical user will manage to achieve.
Which? looked at a selection of popular laptops from Acer, Apple, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Toshiba. All except Apple's failed to live up to the battery life claims made on the manufacturer's website and in the product's documentation.
The Lenovo Yoga 510 fell short of its advertised five hours battery life by over half, stopping short after two hours, seven minutes. The HP Pavilion 14-al115na fared similarly poorly, running out of power after four hours, 25 minutes despite claiming a nine hour runtime.
Acer's E15 with a "six hour" battery lasted two hours and 56 minutes while Dell's "seven hour" Inspiron 15 5000 ran out in three hours and 58 minutes. Apple's MacBook Pro 13 managed to exceed its 10 hour claim, lasting for 12 hours under lab tests.
"Overall we found that manufacturers are missing their claims not by minutes, but by hours," said Which? "The most optimistic laptop manufacturers are overstating their battery life by 50 percent or more, leaving you searching for the power cable twice as often as you’d expect."
Which? said it uses a range of real-world tests to assess the battery lives of consumer computers. For the most part, it actively browses the web while using a Wi-Fi connection, continuing to use the laptop until it shuts down. In another tests, films are replayed continually until the battery is depleted. Each laptop is tested multiple times, giving the battery time to cover several discharge cycles.
It's of note that all the Windows machines in the test gave dismal results whereas Apple's MacBook Pro – a device plagued with battery issues immediately after its launch – performed well.
Which? hasn't detailed its exact testing methodology. Details such as screen brightness, the web browser used and the exact sites being visited have significant impacts on overall power consumption. Given Which? claims it tests "like no one else," it's disappointing it doesn't present the specifics for scrutiny.
Responding to the report, Dell noted that lab tests cannot be indicative of actual usage by any one user. Everyone installs a different combination of software and uses their PC for their own reasons. "It’s similar to how different people driving the same car will get different gas mileage depending on how they drive," the company explained.
Laptop manufacturers generally test their devices with a standard selection of software that reflects the broadest demographic of users. Commonly used tests include performance in office applications, web browsing and video playback, all on a "clean" machine without the bloat that accumulates through months of PC usage. The setup doesn't truly reflect any real system though. Which? suggested companies should be doing more to indicate how good the batteries in their products are.
Which? said that manufacturers are overstating their battery life figures "not by minutes, but by hours." It noted that customers should "look past manufacturer claims" and do their own research on what a laptop's battery is like. Reading online reviews by the media and other customers is usually the best way to tell how reliable a battery is.
More about Laptops, Battery, Devices, consumer rights
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