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Toshiba's battery recall and tips on maintaining your laptop's battery


IDG News service and SlashGear report that Toshiba is initiating another series of battery recalls due to risk of fire.

The models that may be affected are Satellite A100/A105 and Tecra A7 and two accessory/replacement batteries, model numbers PA3451U-1BRS and PA3399U-2BRS.

This link to Toshiba's support site can help you check if your battery is affected or not. This recent recall follows a major set of recalls made last year.

New polymer to prevent battery overheating

Lithium-ion batteries are a major source of mobile power for laptops are lightweight and small, but they pose a threat due to overheating caused by overcharging of electrodes. Researchers at Tonen Chemical, an affiliate of ExxonMobil Chemical based in Tokyo, Japan, have achieved success in creating a polymer separator that plays an active role in preventing the overheating of batteries.

Here's a quote from an article at Technology Review:

Unlike present separators, which break down at a little above 150 ºC, the new Tonen material stays intact up to 190 ºC. By preventing massive electrical shorting, the new separator could prevent the accelerated heating that leads to explosions, said Peter Roth, program manager for advanced technology development at Sandia National Laboratories, in Albuquerque, NM. Sandia is now testing the safety features of the new separator.

Tips for maintaining laptop batteries

While we are discussing laptop batteries, here are a few tips to keep your power investment in top shape:

  • Make sure the battery is discharged and used frequently.
  • When charging, make sure you fully charge it.

Here are a few pointers for getting the most of your laptop battery:

  • Dim your screen to the lowest setting.
  • Disable auto Bluetooth and Wi-Fi network detection (if you don't need the Internet).
  • Turn off music and DVD and CD players.
  • Turn off software (like the Hibernate or Stand-by mode in Windows XP) and turn off scheduled tasks.

Here's an article from our own Paul Mah on things you should know about lithium-ion batteries, and here's a thorough analysis on the saga of lithium-ion batteries. So, how has been the performance of your laptop battery?

7 comments
paul.eggers
paul.eggers

I'm confused. I just got a new laptop from Dell, and they say to leave the power cord plugged in at all times unless you need to use the battery. They claim that a battery contains a finite number of charges/discharges, and once you use them up, the battery is dead. So they say NOT to discharge the battery often.

vporrazzo
vporrazzo

What does Hibernate mode have to do with it? I thought everything in memory saved to HDD and then powered off. Is something still running?

pr.arun
pr.arun

How has your laptop battery been faring?

OldER Mycroft
OldER Mycroft

Basically you should get about 3 years out of a battery if you are using it every day. If you NEVER discharge the battery, then DELL's advice about leaving it plugged in at all times is a fairly safe course of action. BUT once you embark on a course of using battery power, you enter the realms of 'charge memory'. 'Charge memory' is where the battery is depleted to a percentage of its capacity but not fully discharged. If you tend to run the battery down to the same point THEN charge it again, it tends to 'think' the partly discharged level is its fully discharged state. Over time this can have the effect of producing a battery that will suddenly go from partly discharged to fully knackered. There are those that will contend this condition ONLY applies to NICAD (Nickel Cadmium) batteries. I don't agree, having witnessed the same symptoms with LION (Lithium Ion) and with NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries. Once a battery develops 'charge memory' the only sure (but not foolproof) way to get rid of it, is to fully discharge the battery. The best way to do this is to FULLY turn off power management and run the laptop on battery power until it collapses under the strain - a bit like HAL9000 (sorry HAL !! :D ) in 2001: A Space Odyssey. "...my mind is going, Dave: I can feel it ....my mind is going... ."

pr.arun
pr.arun

Standby mode is the power saving mode in which the monitor, HDD and some more devices are turned off but the contents in the memory of the computer are retained. This mode takes more power as the memory (RAM) needs to be maintained. In Hibernate mode, the system saves the present contents of the memory (RAM) to the HDD and powers off. This saves more power, but causes the system to take a longer time ( compared to Stand-by) to start-up. start-up.

vporrazzo
vporrazzo

This is the quote from the article: "Turn off software (like the Hibernate or Stand-by mode in Windows XP) and turn off scheduled tasks." I agree about turning off Stand-by and scheduled tasks but Hibernate seems safe unless I missed something about how it operates. Thanks.

vporrazzo
vporrazzo

Yes, that was my point. The original article indicated that hibernate was drawing power also which it is not from what I know.