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Boston-Power has announced it will be offering a new product line meant for notebook PCs that will feature numerous performance and security enhancements

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Boston-Power, Inc. will soon be offering a next-generation notebook lithium-ion battery line that will feature the world’s fastest recharge time along with matching the lifespan of regular notebook PCs. The new battery, dubbed Sonata, Boston-Power was developed closely with HP in testing and validation.

“As the world’s number one supplier of notebook computers, HP is deeply committed to capitalizing on innovations in portable power,” said HP Distinguished Technologist Dr. John Wozniak. “We believe that lithium-ion is the best solution to power notebook computers for the foreseeable future. HP welcomes opportunities to incorporate advancements in this area into our products to the benefit of our customers.”

The Sonata product line will be a drop-in technology companies will be able to use with existing notebook computers. No design changes will be required on the part of the notebook computer OEM. The new battery will feature enhanced safety features, a longer lifespan, and a faster recharge time.

Its safety features include “slower chemical kinetics, novel current interrupt devices, new thermal fuses, unique pressure relief vents and safer pack configuration.” Safety is a large focus of Boston-Power, as they believe that they are “answering the call for safer, longer lasting lithium-ion batteries.”

Geared towards on-the-go notebook computer users, Sonata provides the industry’s fastest recharge time. Recharging the battery to 80% capacity will take just 30 minutes, about half the time of most other battery solutions. In addition, Boston-Power has also addressed the problem of battery lifespan. Sonata has been designed to match the lifespan of notebook PCs, meaning no more replacement batteries.

The fist public unveiling of Sonata will take place this Thursday at DEMO 2007. The first notebook computers that use Sonata batteries are expected to begin shipping this summer.

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By JazzMang on 1/31/2007 3:13:59 PM , Rating: 2
This is good news, in general.
I am interested in how they validated the claim that it will match the lifespan of a laptop. Does that mean they say a laptop lifespan is 2-3 years?
Also, heat may be a concern when doing a 'quick recharge' like that... hopefully they learned from Sony on how *not* to make a battery!

RE: Interesting
By Marlowe on 1/31/2007 4:19:57 PM , Rating: 2
The first I was thinking of when seeing this was: "That tech should be adopted by the electric car industry!"

Half the charging time would be a very good improvement for the electric cars! Hopefully one day we will be seeing recharge times for full grown electric cars in minutes and seconds instead of hours. With technology like this we are many steps closer I think. Yey =)

RE: Interesting
By Oregonian2 on 1/31/2007 9:00:19 PM , Rating: 2
Except for the reported problem that there isn't enough lithium around to make enough batteries for widespread automobile use. It was reported that Lithium comes mostly from just four countries (China, Argentina, Uruguay, and another from memory -- don't quote me on these, China is the only one that I really remember).

RE: Interesting
By bottle23 on 1/31/2007 5:41:21 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't "quick charging" place stresses on the battery and reduce life?

RE: Interesting
By TomZ on 1/31/2007 5:48:22 PM , Rating: 2
No, because charging circuits have temperature sensors that ensure that the battery temperature during charging doesn't exceed a particular threshold. All Li-ion charging circuits are "fast charge" circuits. There is no "trickle charging" of Li-ion batteries, since that can actually damage the cell.

RE: Interesting
By lucyfek on 1/31/2007 6:50:19 PM , Rating: 2
it may not stress the batteries, but definitely it stresses the power supply (i guess it requires separate, "non-mobile" brick just to charge the batteries).
nothing comes free of charge;)

RE: Interesting
By TomZ on 1/31/2007 7:30:51 PM , Rating: 2
Why would it stress the power supply? I'm sure the power supply would be designed to supply the required amount of current, right?

RE: Interesting
By lucyfek on 2/1/2007 10:20:54 AM , Rating: 2
wrong. if ps is designed for regular batteries, its power output (wattage) will be well below required for the "high speed" batteries (unless the laptop is a desktop replacement with power requirement so high that the addition of a battery charging does not reallly matter). simple math will tell you: 30 minutes vs 3 hours would require at least 6 times higher amperage from ps. i guess such a ps would need a fan to stay ~cool and relatively compact.

RE: Interesting
By TomZ on 2/1/2007 2:18:15 PM , Rating: 2
I see your point. I didn't realize that the OP already stated that an external charger would be needed. I was more thinking along the lines that existing batteries are already "fast charged," and that the power supplies are alrady designed for that. But you're right, that if these new type of batteries are to be charged faster than the existing batteries, they will not be able to use the OEM charger, unless by some luck or by design the OEM charger can handle it.

RE: Interesting
By mindless1 on 2/1/2007 6:04:08 PM , Rating: 2
In any case including current laptops it does stress the power supply. Increased current is increased heat production, higher rise over ambient means shorter supply life. Usually they are engineered well enough to outlive the laptop, but everything keeps getting cheaper, no reason to think a supply won't have corners cut as well and it's life was already subject to other factors like power surges or higher than typical ambient temp or more recharge cycles, particularly when powering the notebook simultaneously.

RE: Interesting
By mindless1 on 2/1/2007 6:00:30 PM , Rating: 2
The temp sensor is for end of charge or critical cutout purposes, NOT a way to prolong the useable life of a cell(s). Essentially we have to make a tradeoff and unlike the geeks that poo-poo fast charging of a battery because they lose a minor amount of lifespan, the industry thankfully didn't cripple recharging circuits just to wring that minor lifespan increase at the cost of substantially longer recharge times, plus if the recharge time is stretched out too far it becomes more difficult to sense things like the temp change, it becomes more variable with ambient conditions like the device or room temp changes.

RE: Interesting
By Oregonian2 on 1/31/2007 8:57:14 PM , Rating: 3
I am interested in how they validated the claim that it will match the lifespan of a laptop.

Maybe they blow up when they go bad and therefore do indeed last the lifetime of the notebook. :-|

this is good news
By Domicinator on 1/31/07, Rating: 0
RE: this is good news
By TomZ on 1/31/2007 4:27:17 PM , Rating: 2
Trickle-charging has no negative effect on a Li-Ion battery's life span (unlike NiCd). Li-ion is instead rated for a number of charge-discharge cycles, plus age, and after some threshold, the battery starts to gradually lose capacity.

The Li-Ion battery also should not be very sensitive to cold, as the electrolyte doesn't freeze until -40ºC, so unless you live in a really cold climate, leaving it outdoors shouldn't be a problem. Actually, it is recommended to store unused batteries in the cold in order to extend their life.

RE: this is good news
By zsouthboy on 1/31/2007 5:39:31 PM , Rating: 2
The only way to "mistreat" LI Ion batteries is to overheat them.

Trickle-charging doesn't hurt them.

Charging to capacity, then using the battery till your notebook turns off, then charging it again WON'T hurt it.

It's going to slowly die from age, regardless of use.

Also, the cold won't hurt it; that actually keeps the rate of self-discharge to a minimum.

RE: this is good news
By TomZ on 1/31/2007 5:44:31 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with everything (see my post above), except for:
Charging to capacity, then using the battery till your notebook turns off, then charging it again WON'T hurt it.

Li-ion batteries also "age" based on number of charge-discharge cycles. So doing what you say will decrease the life compared to running the laptop on AC power if you always have that available. This is the opposite of NiCd, where it was better to charge-discharge all the time.

RE: this is good news
By Zoomer on 1/31/2007 9:52:31 PM , Rating: 2
It is not a good idea to completely discharge lithiums, and a worse idea to charge it right to its max capacity.

RE: this is good news
By TomZ on 1/31/2007 9:55:07 PM , Rating: 2
If you're saying that it is not a good idea to run on AC power with your batteries in, I disagree. The charging circuits for Li-ion are designed to stop charging the batteries when they are fully charged. Similarly, they will cut out power completely from the battery when the batteries become nearly discharged. The purpose of this is so the end user doesn't have to be concerned about such things destroying his/her battery.

Life span of a regular battery?
By RussianSensation on 1/31/2007 3:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
I don't have a laptop but how long do the batteries generally last if the laptop is recharged at least 2-3 times a week?

RE: Life span of a regular battery?
By TomZ on 1/31/2007 3:40:15 PM , Rating: 2
In my experience, Li-Ion laptop batteries start to lose capacity after only about 2 years. Most people don't feel like making to effort or spending the money to replace them, which is why you see most laptop users always plugging in their laptops into AC power.

RE: Life span of a regular battery?
By masher2 on 1/31/2007 4:49:33 PM , Rating: 4
One thing many people don't realize is that Li-Ion batteries begin to "age" from date of manufacture, whether they're going through charge cycles or not. So if you buy one that was manufactured 2 years ago, you've lost a good bit of its lifetime...even if its technically 'brand new'.

End User availablility?
By customcoms on 1/31/2007 3:14:22 PM , Rating: 3
If these batteries are directly compatible with current notebooks, couldn't a company make drop in replacements for current laptop owners? Many of todays laptops are plenty fast, and battery's are usually the first thing to go. I for one would purchase a new battery based on this technology so I don't have to keep replacing them....

RE: End User availablility?
By fic2 on 1/31/2007 6:22:58 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly what I was thinking!

RE: End User availablility?
By borowki on 1/31/2007 11:27:06 PM , Rating: 2
Compaq tried that before, some 12 twelve years ago. The old Aero used Duracell branded battery (NiCd I think), which was supposed to become a standard item you can simply buy from a supermarket or drugstore. Alas the idea never caught on. Compaq itself even extended support to more than one model. Selling replacement is very lucrative for laptop makers and they have little reason to give that up.

Like I said before....
By nurbsenvi on 2/1/2007 6:02:29 AM , Rating: 2
Like I've always said.
Standardize the laptop component first!!!

IF they were standardized we won't have to worry too much about replacing old laptop batteries like I do now.

I have Toshiba pro4600 (very old) and the replacement battery costs as much as the unit it self...

If the laptop batteries were indeed standardized, Chinese battery manufacturers will not only sell them at an affordable price they will also improve the capacity and so on as new technology is introduced along the way.

RE: Like I said before....
By typo101 on 2/1/2007 8:45:57 PM , Rating: 2
I'm with you! Considering all the plug an play compatability we have with all these complex products, WHY do we not have one standard form factor for batteries? Money grabbing.

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