Easy to use, but pay attention to details

By Daniel Dern  |  Posted 2008-04-02 Print this article Print

Using an external notebook battery is easy-but users should take the time to get everything ready, or they may regret it.

First, figure out what all the stuff is, and find the tip for the device or devices. Having the right power tips is essential; otherwise, it won't be possible to connect the AC adapter to charge the external battery, or connect the external battery to the notebook or other devices.

APC and mFuel both include packs for the majority of popular current models, but users should check the "devices supported" list before buying. If, for example, a notebook model isn't listed, see if the vendor has the tips available separately for free or for a small extra charge.

When a notebook vendor introduces a new power voltage or tip size, "We generally have had matching tips within three to six months, and as we work [more closely] with the notebook vendors, we should be able to shorten that," APC's Fournier said.

Also, users should make sure they have the right connectors for any mobile devices-for the APC UPB90, a USB charging cable; for the mFuel, a tip provided by mFuel.

Finally, charge up the external battery if it isn't already charged, and plug the devices in. 

APC Universal Power Battery 90

APC's new UPB90 finally overcomes one of the minor annoyances-and my concern-about the APC notebook battery line, and also adds several welcome features. (I've been using an APC UPB80 for a year or more, with my IBM ThinkPad T40 notebook computer.)

The big fix: Doing away with the need to manually select the output voltage for the notebook-which to me means putting a label on so I don't forget what my notebook takes, and making sure the selector switch hasn't changed its setting, since there's no "lock." (I recommend putting a label on the UPB80 with the setting for each notebook that will be used with it.)

Unlike its predecessors, the APC UPB90 autosenses and sets the correct output voltage. If users with different notebooks will be signing these batteries in and out, that's important, as the wrong setting could damage the notebook. 

The UPB90 has a pair of USB ports, letting users plug in USB charger cables just as they would to computer USB ports to recharge a BlackBerry, Bluetooth headset or media player.

The UPB90 indicates its power level with a row of four lights. The UPB80's mini-display shows current battery capacity, recharge time, battery load and input/output voltages-everything a user might want to know about the device's status.

APC also offers the UPB70 (MSRP $149), with less capacity, no LED display and only one USB charging port.


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