HP To Offer Startup's Longer-Lasting Battery

The Sonata battery from Boston Power can withstand up to three years of recharging before losing its maximum capacity.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

December 10, 2008

2 Min Read

Hewlett-Packard will be the first computer maker to offer startup Boston Power's longer-lasting battery in laptops, the companies said Wednesday.

Called Sonata, the lithium-ion battery can withstand up to three years of recharging before losing its maximum capacity, according to Boston Power. Most batteries used today have a lifespan of about half that much. In addition, the battery recharges in only 30 minutes, which is much faster than traditional laptop batteries, and is less likely to overheat.

HP has worked with Boston Power for three years to bring the battery to HP consumer laptops. HP plans to offer Sonata batteries under the Enviro brand as an option on select notebooks starting early next year. The batteries will come with a three-year warranty; the longest available from any laptop maker, according to HP. Pricing wasn't disclosed.

Current users of HP laptops will also have the option of buying the new batteries as replacements. The batteries that will be offered by HP are similar in size as the older technology and can fit into the same slot.

Landing the world's largest computer maker as its first customer in the mobile PC market is a major boost for Boston Power, which was founded in 2005 by chief executive Christina Lampe-Onnerud. Headquartered in Westborough, Mass., the company has more than 40 patents filed and has raised $70 million in venture funding from Oak Investment Partners, Venrock, GGV Capital, and Gabriel Venture Partners.

Battery performance has always been a weakness in laptops. Besides lasting only a few hours between charges, depending on use, traditional batteries also have been known on rare occasions to burst into flames. Overheating problems with Sony's lithium-ion batteries, for example, sparked a massive recall a couple years ago by major computer makers, including Apple, Dell, Lenovo, HP, and Sony.

HP has been working to extend the battery life between charges in its notebooks. The company in September launched a laptop configuration that HP claimed would get 24 hours of battery life. To achieve the extended battery life, HP outfitted an EliteBook 6930p with an Intel solid-state drive; a 14.1-inch LED display, which consumes less power than the usual LCD screens in notebooks; and a 12-cell "ultra-capacity battery."

Rival Dell also has been attacking the problem through technology that reduces power consumption. In August, Dell introduced in its Latitude laptop brand a low-power mode that automatically triggers a number of battery-saving mechanisms, such as a reduction in the display's refresh cycle. The configuration can get up to 19 hours of battery life through the use of two batteries, according to Dell.

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