Three quick ways to improve laptop battery life

Like chocolate and episodes of Mad Men, there's no such thing as too much battery life.

Like chocolate and episodes of Mad Men, there's no such thing as too much battery life. Alas, it's the rare notebook battery that'll give you more than a few hours-unless you know some tricks for squeezing extra juice. Remember these three tips the next time you travel:

Disable Bluetooth and Wi-Fi: Few airplanes offer Wi-Fi (yet), so turn off your notebook's power-sucking Wi-Fi radio. Same goes for Bluetooth.

Drop the screen brightness: You can afford to keep screen brightness cranked up when your notebook is plugged into an outlet, but not when you're flying coach. Drop the brightness setting a few notches, then get back to work. Chances are you'll hardly notice the difference. Then drop it a few more notches. The lower, the better.

Watch downloads, not DVDs: Notebooks are great for watching movies, but DVD drives consume a considerable amount of power. Therefore, leave the DVDs behind and choose digital downloads instead. Stock your hard drive with movies from Amazon or iTunes and you'll be able to watch longer. Don't want to pay for movies you already own? Use a tool like Handbrake to rip your DVDs, creating MPEG-4 files you can store on your hard drive (or put on your iPod, thus saving your notebook even more power).

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Rick Broida

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