Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Marcus and Agata recently visited Dusseldorf and for this short visit we had limitations on what we could carry.  So we had to think about what Gadgets to take and moreover what chargers we could leave at home.

Above you will see Marcus and Agata's roadwarrior weapons these being the Lenovo U430 laptop and the Apple iPad Air respectively.

Neither of us took a charger and we managed quite fine!

Different Strokes
Marcus Policy:  When I get home, plug it in

Agata Policy: Laissez faire ... when I remember I might plug something in.

This leads to Marcus doing a lot of plugging, Agata occasionally running out of battery power unexpectedly, and Agata accusing Marcus of not understanding that overcharging will shorten battery life (something that Marcus rejects with modern Lithium Ion and advanced charging circuitry)

As Engineers we are precisely aware of the limitations of Battery technology but in the last 20 years power requirements from computers have eased leading to quite remarkable (to us) battery lives.

For the Lenovo at least 8 hours and over 10 hours for the iPad. Astonishing

From that we began to think about our daily technology devices and which ones had us dashing to an available power outlet daily, or even hourly ....

Device - Battery Life

Mobile Phone Agata iPhone 4 - 1 day
It's old slow and tired.  It desperately needs retirement and replacement.  Remind me, didn't Apple announce a new iPhone recently?

Mobile Phone Marcus Nokia 635 - 1 day
Even with hard surfing, and use as a handlebar mounted screen always on Bicycle Computer (daily for at least 2 hours) the Nokia, Windows Phone always easily lasts a day.

Since this is still a temporary phone, my next choice of a <real> phone will have to be one with exceptional battery life.  As a  Internet Portal, Camera, GPS, Bicycle and running computer, flashlight, Map, step tracker backup, oh and Phone   it is in use practically the whole day long.

GPS Sports Watch Marcus - 2 days
Actually the TomTom can last over 60 hours just as a watch, but as a GPS watch it has about a 7 hour life with the GPS on and recording activities.  So it's able to last 2 days of normal training

Laptop Marcus Lenovo U430 - 4 days
My first laptop with what I regard as an almost infinite battery life.  My old HP Envy laptop  (Quad Core, 16GB) was down to 90 minutes without the additional battery slab.

iPad Air Tablet Agata - 4 days
Agata is a heavy iPad Air user but it's 4 days at the very minimum between charges based on her 2 hours per day usage average.

MP3 player (iPod nano) Marcus - 2 days
It's old faithful, my beloved Nano, my second one after the first one drowned.   Used every day for at least 4 hours, but battery life is still at least 10 hours. Plugged into the Lenovo laptop to charge  (the U430 has an always on USB socket even with laptop off) or to synchronise with iTunes.

On a long Ultramarathon race, say anything over 10 hours I'd carry this Nano and a backup iPod Shuffle  because running without music for say upto 24 hours can get really boring I can tell you! 

Toothbrush Oral B - 7 days
It lasts a week if used sparingly (2 people, twice per day).  We know this because whilst camping we don't take an adapter.

Heart Rate Monitor Mio Link - 1 day
The actual battery life is only about 5 hours, enough for a marathon or a moderately long trail run but nothing longer.  If you pair it to a GPS watch or smartphone this isn't a showstopper (just annoying), after it dies the heart rate is simply shown as zero.

Weight Scales Withings WS50 - 2 months
It might last a few months on rechargable AAA cells but it does not die gracefully.  It takes the measurement but then can't send it anywhere.  Most annoying!

Bank Security - UBS - 1 year
Our UBS Bank security devices last 1 year, luckily we can use each others because the replacements we have ordered twice now have come with flat batteries.

Compex Fitness - 5 hours usage
This is an essential tool helping you recover from exercise or injury.  Marcus uses it for at least 1 hour per day

Swimp3 Finis swim music player - 2 sessions
Whilst it can last longer, it is normally sufficient to plug it into a power source and in the hour that it takes to get everything together for an Open Water or Pool swim/ Paddle  you can put in at least a 2 hour charge, and that is enough!

Bluetooth Jaybird X Earphones - 1 day
It claims to have an 8 hour battery life but Agata might say more like 4 hours.  That's enough (4 hours) for 1 day of travelling and exercise but no more!

iRobot Braava Vacuum Cleaner - Always on
This is continuously plugged into a docking station when not in use.  It's able to do 2 sets of cleaning tasks per day (one after each other) without a recharge.

Bicycle Light Cateye 625 - 1 day
In normal mode it can last for 3 hours of motorist shocking brilliance or 1.5 hours in high mode.  At currently cycling rates this means I must recharge it daily.

Bluetooth Tempo Thermometer - 1 year
I did not change it yet!

Withings Pulse Fitness Tracker - 1 week
It charges in about 1 hour from a micro USB socket.  A small price to pay for the highest functioning step tracker with an integrated heart rate and oxygen sensor.

Garmin Vivofit - 1 year
Agata's step counter with its low power display lasts an amazing year unlike most other trackers which last from 1 day to 1 week.

In Summary
Marcus and Agata are possibly a little unusual but generally we have realised that we depend on a consistent and easily available, reliable Electricity supply to keep our Gadgets topped up for use.