Acer: No major laptop battery improvement in offing

Fuel-cells and other power technology for laptop PCs won't likely be available for years, an Acer executive says

Dreams of fuel cells serving the power needs of a laptop PC or other new technology to significantly increase battery life won't likely be available for years, according to an Acer executive.

In fact, the recent recall of nearly 9.6 million notebook PC batteries over fears a manufacturing problem could cause them to overheat or catch fire highlights the main reason why battery technology moves slower than other technologies inside a laptop, Acer president of IT products, Jim Wong said in an interview.

Safety is a huge issue with batteries. Electricity is generated by chemical reactions inside a battery, which produces heat as a byproduct. With so much chemistry involved, a lot more product testing was required, therefore battery technology progressed more slowly, he said.

"The lithium-ion materials used in batteries today were discovered 30 to 40 years ago," Wong said.

Fuel cells are promising, but the technology isn't ready yet, and an infrastructure needed to be in place before the technology could be widely used, he said.

Fuel cells require fuels such as hydrogen, butane, methanol, or natural gas to produce power. Not only would fuel packets or refueling stations be needed for mass adoption of the technology in laptops, they would also need to be approved by aviation officials for use on airplanes.

There has been progress made on such approval, but in an age of terrorism fears, where even cigarette lighters have been banned, the process is moving understandably slow. And users aren't likely to buy a laptop that can't be taken with them on vacations or business trips that require air travel. The battery issue is gaining more importance recently because the new era of multimedia laptops threatens to shorten battery life.

"High definition is a most formidable enemy to battery life," said Wong.

HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc players in laptop PCs really drag on battery life. Companies offset some of the drain by putting bigger batteries inside machines and with power management technology aimed at shutting off parts of the machine that aren't immediately being used. But such improvements only help a little bit. They're not the kind of breakthrough that fuel-cells are expected to be.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?