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Mossberg: New MacBook Pro has best battery life "ever tested"

post #1 of 58
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Although they're not without their drawbacks, the new MacBook Pros have been celebrated by one veteran columnist as having the best stock battery life of any notebook seen so far -- and has debunked some myths about battery use in the process.

Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal wrote on Thursday that the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro updates in June have achieved record results in his own, "harsh" battery tests that involve maximum display brightness, continuous music and no energy saving settings.

The 13-inch model, which has the smallest battery of the two, still managed to last almost 5 hours under high strain. Similar conditions put against the 15-inch led it to run for 5 hours and 21 minutes. Either result by itself would be the best "ever tested" that doesn't bend the rules to get to that figure, Mossberg says, such as by using an extended capacity battery that bulges outside of normal dimensions.

He predicts that, under less strenuous conditions, the new MacBook Pro could last even longer and would likely approach Apple's official target of 7 hours, which was reached by browsing the web using Wi-Fi.

All the gain comes from using a sealed-in battery. By removing the need for a special battery bay, a latch and other mechanisms needed to remove the battery without disassembly, Apple could expand the size of the battery itself. Mossberg acknowledges that the move is controversial and not without its problems: it forces customers to visit a service location to replace a dead battery, and it prevents long-haul travelers from running the notebook without AC power.

But the newspaper writer simultaneously points out that some of the assumptions about battery use are false. The NPD Group, for example, observed that only 5 percent of notebook owners ever buy a second battery; it's unknown how many of these have needed theirs. Consequently, most notebook owners are only concerned about the runtime of the battery that comes with the system -- which, in Apple's case, is far longer than for competitors.

As such, the new MacBook Pros should provide a "very good experience" for typical buyers, Mossberg explains.
post #2 of 58
Maybe it's a good idea, but you can't help thinking one day it will bite you when you really need it. It's borderline form over function. I'm not sure what you lose is offset by what you gain, ie, slightly more battery and a cleaner machine bottom.

And Michael Jackson is dead.
post #3 of 58
Dell just came out with a new laptop, Studio 14 z which looks, at least on paper, to be a pretty good value: http://www.dell.com/content/products...699,3118263771

okay, fire away!
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post #4 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

Maybe it's a good idea, but you can't help thinking one day it will bite you when you really need it. It's borderline form over function. I'm not sure what you lose is offset by what you gain, ie, slightly more battery and a cleaner machine bottom.

No it's not. It's definitely form follows function.

This is why Apple's products do tend to have better battery life. iPods have excellent battery life when compared to other players. Even iPhones do pretty well.

Having a built-in long life battery will be of use to more people than having a short life replaceable one will.

Quote:
And Michael Jackson is dead.

Yeah, I heard.
post #5 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

But the newspaper writer simultaneously points out that some of the assumptions about battery use are false. The NPD Group, for example, observed that only 5 percent of notebook owners ever buy a second battery;

Of that 5%, how many are the pro video and graphics users that spend $2000+ on a laptop, people who need hours of life in places where power may not be readily availible? what about trans contenental flyers who want to work on the flight: with no bothersome co workers or email, air travel is great working time so I hear...

the fact is, Apple spat in the face of the main base of customers who buy hi end 15 and 17 inch MBPs:

That said, I like the battery in the 13, pack more cells in there, that is the one where the users wont swap batteries.

also, load testing by...MUSIC PLAYBACK?????what the hell? who spends $2500 on a MBP to play itunes? try motion, photoshop, hell, I would even be happy with some simple trans coding in handbreak or FFMPEG
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post #6 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by a_greer View Post

Of that 5%, how many are the pro video and graphics users that spend $2000+ on a laptop, people who need hours of life in places where power may not be readily availible? what about trans contenental flyers who want to work on the flight: with no bothersome co workers or email, air travel is great working time so I hear...

the fact is, Apple spat in the face of the main base of customers who buy hi end 15 and 17 inch MBPs:

That said, I like the battery in the 13, pack more cells in there, that is the one where the users wont swap batteries.

If having power on a flight is important enough to you, you'll either a) get on a flight that has AC jacks or b) upgrade to business class to access those AC jacks.

But for most people, the estimated 6-7 hours of battery life is MORE than enough to last a long haul trip.

Though I do hope Apple finds a solution for that other 5%. Perhaps something like an extra battery pack that can be hooked up via MagSafe + USB (USB to control the battery, most people wouldn't want their Mac using one battery to charge another, as that has some efficiency loss).

We'll see what they come up with to address that crowd.
post #7 of 58
Well, I guess it isn't official until Walt says so...
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post #8 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post

If having power on a flight is important enough to you, you'll either a) get on a flight that has AC jacks or b) upgrade to business class to access those AC jacks.

But for most people, the estimated 6-7 hours of battery life is MORE than enough to last a long haul trip.

Though I do hope Apple finds a solution for that other 5%. Perhaps something like an extra battery pack that can be hooked up via MagSafe + USB (USB to control the battery, most people wouldn't want their Mac using one battery to charge another, as that has some efficiency loss).

We'll see what they come up with to address that crowd.

Dell kinda got this right, they sell auxiliary "wedges" that add 4-6 cells under the entire bottom surface of the laptop that just clips on and makes the laptop go for like 4 more hours. Really elegant. It makes the computer a fraciton of an inch thicker, but it is swappable without shutting down like the main battery...so double win
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post #9 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

it forces customers to visit a service location to replace a dead battery

No it doesn't. The battery isn't soldered on. It is trivial for a user to replace it themselves.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

and it prevents long-haul travelers from running the notebook without AC power.

No it doesn't. There are plenty of external battery packs on the market.

Look, I know these are mistakes that Mossberg made, but it annoys me that you (AI) have simply mindlessly parroted them rather than point out that he's wrong.
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post #10 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

No it doesn't. The battery isn't soldered on. It is trivial for a user to replace it themselves.




No it doesn't. There are plenty of external battery packs on the market.

Look, I know these are mistakes that Mossberg made, but it annoys me that you (AI) have simply mindlessly parroted them rather than point out that he's wrong.

Informative post. Thanks!
post #11 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by a_greer View Post

Of that 5%, how many are the pro video and graphics users that spend $2000+ on a laptop, people who need hours of life in places where power may not be readily availible? what about trans contenental flyers who want to work on the flight: with no bothersome co workers or email, air travel is great working time so I hear...

the fact is, Apple spat in the face of the main base of customers who buy hi end 15 and 17 inch MBPs:

That said, I like the battery in the 13, pack more cells in there, that is the one where the users wont swap batteries.

also, load testing by...MUSIC PLAYBACK?????what the hell? who spends $2500 on a MBP to play itunes? try motion, photoshop, hell, I would even be happy with some simple trans coding in handbreak or FFMPEG

Mostly, when on location we would have generators for powering lights, computers and other equipment. At the very least, we would use inverters to power computers off the van battery.

Otherwise, you just don't need the computer to be on for five hours at a stretch. That's not realistic.
post #12 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

Maybe it's a good idea, but you can't help thinking one day it will bite you when you really need it. It's borderline form over function. I'm not sure what you lose is offset by what you gain, ie, slightly more battery and a cleaner machine bottom.

You get a lot more battery for the same weight. The new machines are quite impressive, and as the article stated only a small percentage buy extra batteries and even that number will likely be considerably lower with a battery that lasts as long as the new MBPs do.

If you need an external solution there are options that simply plug into the MagSafe plug.
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post #13 of 58
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post #14 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8CoreWhore View Post

Well, I guess it isn't official until Walt says so...

Not exactly:

http://www.anandtech.com/mac/showdoc.aspx?i=3580

And:

http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/20...acbook-pro.ars

That's from two large tech sites, there are more.
post #15 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by a_greer View Post

Of that 5%, how many are the pro video and graphics users that spend $2000+ on a laptop, people who need hours of life in places where power may not be readily availible? what about trans contenental flyers who want to work on the flight: with no bothersome co workers or email, air travel is great working time so I hear...

the fact is, Apple spat in the face of the main base of customers who buy hi end 15 and 17 inch MBPs:

That said, I like the battery in the 13, pack more cells in there, that is the one where the users wont swap batteries.

also, load testing by...MUSIC PLAYBACK?????what the hell? who spends $2500 on a MBP to play itunes? try motion, photoshop, hell, I would even be happy with some simple trans coding in handbreak or FFMPEG


In all honesty, I travel a great deal, typcially 2 long haul returns per month, and due to the economy I'm in cattle class on most flights, and having battery life of 5 hours is fine. I don't know many people who spend more than half of a flight working away.

As well as that, an increasing number of carriers are adding power sources even in economy class.

That said, it would be good if a solution was found - it couldn't be that hard for Apple to licence Mag Safe and allow someone to develop an external battery that plugs into there. Not ideal from a portability point of view, but it would probably resovle the vast majority of problems.
post #16 of 58
Here are tear-downs for the 17" and 13" unibody MacBook Pros showing the battery is not soldered on. I haven't seen a 15" tear-down but there's no reason to believe it's not a similar deal.

http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/First-Lo...-Unibody/618/1

http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBo...-Unibody/814/1

For an end-user to replace the battery themselves will of course require a replacement battery, but third-parties will fill that void before any of these built-in batteries die (outside of premature deaths that will be covered by Apple's warranty anyway).
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post #17 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

That said, it would be good if a solution was found - it couldn't be that hard for Apple to licence Mag Safe and allow someone to develop an external battery that plugs into there. Not ideal from a portability point of view, but it would probably resovle the vast majority of problems.

'Tis already done! See my earlier post.

Also, with a range of external pack sizes, I don't see how this is any less "portable" than carrying around a replacement internal battery, had the internal battery been in a traditional easily-accessible compartment. Yes, there's the cable connection, but that's hardly going to weigh anyone down. The external battery has the added benefit that you don't have to shut down the computer to replace the battery - you just plug in and keep on working.
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post #18 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

That said, it would be good if a solution was found - it couldn't be that hard for Apple to licence Mag Safe and allow someone to develop an external battery that plugs into there. Not ideal from a portability point of view, but it would probably resovle the vast majority of problems.

Mr. H supplied some products in post #13. As for being ideal, I find that not having to suspend my machine, flip it over, grab a coin to remove the battery or remove the hatch panel to replace the battery while sitting in an airline seat much more cumbersome than simply plugging in the extra battery while still actively using the machine a much better option.
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post #19 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Mr. H supplied some products in post #13. As for being ideal, I find that not having to suspend my machine, flip it over, grab a coin to remove the battery or remove the hatch panel to replace the battery while sitting in an airline seat much more cumbersome than simply plugging in the extra battery while still actively using the machine a much better option.

That would be poor planning on your part. I would hop that you would charge your battery fully before the flight. I see people in airports all the time with plugger in computers.

Do you REALLY have to run the machine the entire flight? Other than poking around in work programs which rarely need much power, few people need the computer to use the highest battery draining functions like watching two movies one after the other.
post #20 of 58
I've always wondered about other users. I stop buying extra batteries since the Titanium days. Those days I had 1 extra batteries that I always lugged with me. I've had the Aluminum 2 upgrades and now the MBP 2.5, I haven't had the need to carry an extra battery. This thing last right through meetings and extended flights.
post #21 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by a_greer View Post

Of that 5%, how many are the pro video and graphics users that spend $2000+ on a laptop, people who need hours of life in places where power may not be readily availible? what about trans contenental flyers who want to work on the flight: with no bothersome co workers or email, air travel is great working time so I hear...

the fact is, Apple spat in the face of the main base of customers who buy hi end 15 and 17 inch MBPs:

Since you didn't want to do the search, here's what 2 minutes and Google can do for you,

http://www.batterygeek.net/Batteryge...Packs-s/78.htm
http://www.tuaw.com/2009/05/04/exter...r-mac-laptops/
http://www.quickertek.com/products/m...ro_charger.php
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post #22 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

That would be poor planning on your part. I would hop that you would charge your battery fully before the flight. I see people in airports all the time with plugger in computers.

Do you REALLY have to run the machine the entire flight? Other than poking around in work programs which rarely need much power, few people need the computer to use the highest battery draining functions like watching two movies one after the other.

I used to have two spare batteries with me. Charging in the hotel room or airport is always a pain. I carry portable power-strip simply because the outlets are often few and far between, this way I can always get in even if they are filled up, but you still have to remove the battery after each charge to charge the others. It’s a pain in the ass, so having an external battery that also has it’s own charging abilities would allow me to charge both at the same time. It’s much simpler.

As for duration, I’ve often have to wait in areas in terminals that aren’t near outlets, or the potential of being delayed for extended periods on the Tarmac or you are flying for more than 8 hours. Sometimes these are multiple flights but you often don’t have down time to recharge between flights. Having the extra power available in case you need it is a very good thing.

If you are playing video for a flight from Miami to Sao Paulo or to London even the new Mac batteries won’t last a single charge. Then there is a newer option of in-flight WiFi which will draina battery even more if you are connected to you IM client while watching a movie. Eventually power will become commonplace for all seats on most flights, but for now it is not.
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post #23 of 58
IF you are looking at the advertised battery life for laptops dont trust them. The industry base them on MobileMark and BAPCO, who are shills for the industry. Battery life is a big selling point.
post #24 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

That would be poor planning on your part.

What if your battery can't last the whole flight, even if you fully charged it before getting on? Obviously with the latest macs we're now talking international flights unless you're doing CPU-intensive stuff.
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post #25 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Mostly, when on location we would have generators for powering lights, computers and other equipment. At the very least, we would use inverters to power computers off the van battery.

Yeah, jennies on real shoots, and most of the "adventurer" documentary film makers I know have gone to battery packs with solar chargers (at least the pro/hard core ones). But jennies on location... even in the boonies.
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post #26 of 58
"Of that 5%, how many are the pro video and graphics users that spend $2000+ on a laptop, people who need hours of life in places where power may not be readily availible? what about trans contenental flyers who want to work on the flight: with no bothersome co workers or email, air travel is great working time so I hear...

the fact is, Apple spat in the face of the main base of customers who buy hi end 15 and 17 inch MBPs:

That said, I like the battery in the 13, pack more cells in there, that is the one where the users wont swap batteries.

also, load testing by...MUSIC PLAYBACK?????what the hell? who spends $2500 on a MBP to play itunes? try motion, photoshop, hell, I would even be happy with some simple trans coding in handbreak or FFMPEG"


If you were a hi end user, you would know that we use external battery packs. Triple the battery power for $250. Not cheap. But then that's "hi end".
post #27 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Do you REALLY have to run the machine the entire flight?

A question:

What is the difference between a replacement battery and the external battery packs mentioned above?

Some thoughts

You can't replace the battery, but it lasts a lot longer than batteries used to.

Sometimes changing habits is not so bad, especially when there are positive aspects with the new MBPs. The new crop are so fast, i get more done in a shorter space of time than before.

I fly a lot, for me it's ok to use the battery for a few hours, then switch it off and read/sleep/mentally prepare for next job.
post #28 of 58
Walt Mossberg video reviews are the most boring thing to watch ever. He's so boring suicide seems sensible. It's not sensible, but my point has been made.
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post #29 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by mzaslove View Post

Yeah, jennies on real shoots, and most of the "adventurer" documentary film makers I know have gone to battery packs with solar chargers (at least the pro/hard core ones). But jennies on location... even in the boonies.

Yeah. Why some people seem to think that location work isn't planned out, and has enough equipment to do what's required. The cost of the equipment is just a small part of the cost of a shoot, and no one wants to get caught with their pants down if something fails.

Also, what do they think we're doing out there? Do they think we do all our editing in the field?
post #30 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidT View Post

A question:

What is the difference between a replacement battery and the external battery packs mentioned above?

Some thoughts

You can't replace the battery, but it lasts a lot longer than batteries used to.

Sometimes changing habits is not so bad, especially when there are positive aspects with the new MBPs. The new crop are so fast, i get more done in a shorter space of time than before.

I fly a lot, for me it's ok to use the battery for a few hours, then switch it off and read/sleep/mentally prepare for next job.

There are certain things I don't understand. If someone spends $1500 to $2500 for a laptop for business, why would they complain about spending another $250 for an external battery that doubles or triples their usage time?

So an internal battery can cost another $125 to $175. That's not much less, and it's more likely to get damaged than the external one, which is much better. Since the person is sitting, the fact that it's got to plug in isn't a real issue.

Changing ones habits can be difficult for some people, but really, if one is using a computer in the first place, it should be understood that sometimes things are required to be dome.
post #31 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Walt Mossberg video reviews are the most boring thing to watch ever. He's so boring suicide seems sensible. It's not sensible, but my point has been made.

What point was that?

Most reviews are boring. We don't watch or read them for the excitement, but for the information being given.
post #32 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post

If having power on a flight is important enough to you, you'll either a) get on a flight that has AC jacks or b) upgrade to business class to access those AC jacks.

But for most people, the estimated 6-7 hours of battery life is MORE than enough to last a long haul trip.

Though I do hope Apple finds a solution for that other 5%. Perhaps something like an extra battery pack that can be hooked up via MagSafe + USB (USB to control the battery, most people wouldn't want their Mac using one battery to charge another, as that has some efficiency loss).

We'll see what they come up with to address that crowd.

Yeah I don't see why that sort of external battery pack doesn't solve the problem for 90% of that remaining 5%. Third parties make them already, don't they?
post #33 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

What point was that?

Most reviews are boring. We don't watch or read them for the excitement, but for the information being given.

I guess that's why most news is reported with eye candy in mind? To carry my attention until the next segment of interest.
Let's be honest. Ease of creating and posting video has downgraded the median quality of journalism and eye candy.
Walt should stick to print.

As for the rest of this posting, use external battery packs, end of discussion.
If you really get to 5 years on your MBP, and really are a power user, you've saved your money already in batteries, and it will warn when a change is due...so no problem. Pony up the dough! You should still be ahead, even with the external battery.

Walt, fix your facts.
post #34 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by a_greer View Post

Dell kinda got this right, they sell auxiliary "wedges" that add 4-6 cells under the entire bottom surface of the laptop that just clips on and makes the laptop go for like 4 more hours. Really elegant. It makes the computer a fraciton of an inch thicker, but it is swappable without shutting down like the main battery...so double win

Double win?! No, more like they don't have a choice! Their computers don't last 7 hours! If you need it you can get an external battery pack for an extra 6 hours. If you're a pro they have ones up to 20 hours!

Why is it that none of these "gotta have replaceable batteries, Macs suck!" people have never heard of external battery packs?...
post #35 of 58
My (now) replaceable batteries on a 4+ year-old Powerbook provide 1.5 hours of juice, max; anything beyond 3-4 hours would tickle me.

It's easy to forget-because we as a species thrive on whining--how far we've come in such little time; Apple rightly deserves the credit for thinking outside of the box. They showed the industry where to put the keyboard on laptops (rear deck); how to keep laptops from being yanked to the ground (magsafe); how to see a keyboard in low lighting; that less is more (unibody), that we didn't need floppy (3.5") disk drives; firewire ports (stay tuned for USB 3), and now, replaceable batteries

I only bought extra batteries for my dinosaur because I had to. 5 hours is fine. 10 hours may not be far away with OLED screens, SSD drives, chipsets that consume even less power and other goodies on the horizon; get a life, y'all; there are bigger fish to fry
post #36 of 58
when are we going to see pictures of the Macbook Pro's bottem? I'm curious to find out how it looks like: how many screws are visible etc.

Also, what are the consequences of the new design? Will the MBpro be more shock resistant? Is it a better seal for dust?
post #37 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr O View Post

when are we going to see pictures of the Macbook Pro's bottem? I'm curious to find out how it looks like: how many screws are visible etc.

iFixit has a comparison and teardown of the 13 MBP clearly showing the underbelly.
http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBo...-Unibody/814/1
Quote:
Also, what are the consequences of the new design?

Mossbergs article mentions the prosequences and consequences of the new direction.

Quote:
Will the MBpro be more shock resistant? Is it a better seal for dust?

I dont think either of these will be any more or less than before.
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post #38 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by a_greer View Post

Of that 5%, how many are the pro video and graphics users that spend $2000+ on a laptop, people who need hours of life in places where power may not be readily availible? what about trans contenental flyers who want to work on the flight: with no bothersome co workers or email, air travel is great working time so I hear...

the fact is, Apple spat in the face of the main base of customers who buy hi end 15 and 17 inch MBPs:

Oh get over yourself. You know damn well that there are external battery packs that work with Apple laptops, and you don't even need to shutdown-replace-reboot with these.

Instead Apple has made the product vastly better for 95% of users, but using a battery that has a 3x longer life and very long lifetimes per charge.

Indeed how many of that 5% who do buy a new battery buy it to replace an old battery that has effectively died anyway, rather than to swap out on the go?
post #39 of 58
I was going to upgrade soon until Apple decided to force me to an internal battery & glossy screen.
Say what you may but I'm not going to pay extra to upgrade to business class when I travel just to have a/c power for my mbp, pay extra to have a freaking internal battery replaced, be forced to live even a few days without my notebook while it's being serviced or deal with the worse idea in the history of apple ever, the Glossy Screen..!!! Apple sure has forgotten who got them here & if their next release doesn't address these issues I'm going "hackintosh", & so are a lot of other long time apple users I know.!! We have waited forever for apple to listen to its users & release a netbook & mid-size tower, but instead they shove these supposed hardware upgrades down our throat. No wonder more & more people are looking for alternative hardware on which to run OS-X.
post #40 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by merdhead View Post

Maybe it's a good idea, but you can't help thinking one day it will bite you when you really need it.

And for those who want to be prepared just get an external battery pack:
http://www.hyperdrive.com/HyperMac-E...Power-s/91.htm

Seriously, the only disadvantage with an external battery pack compared to an additional one of the replaceable kind is that you have to work with an external box connected to your laptop. But it does not require to put to sleep (or shutdown) to switch to the new battery and more importantly in most situations you either do not have to carry any second battery or switch to a second battery at all since the built-in one last noticeably longer.

On balance, even for those needing a second battery (or third battery) occasionally it is probably a slight win or at worst an about even. For everybody else, it is a clear win.
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