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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Haswell and Windows 8.1 - Secret Sauce?



MacBook Air 2013 Shows the Way

Thank you Apple for making the big splash and showing the Windows OEM crowd the way to Windows 8 success - emulate the battery life of the MacBook Air (mid-2013). Here's a summary of various battery tests results from around the web (most are Wi-Fi surfing, 40-60% brightness):

PC Magazine        15:30
The Verge             13:29
Engadget               12:51
CNet                      "Greater than 12 hours"
Mossberg              10:14

Gizmodo summed it up best:

"The battery. The battery makes this Air what it is, and that is properly ridiculous. On a video run-down test: — streaming Nyan Cat over Wi-Fi, with brightness on 80 per cent — the Air lasted 13 hours 6 minutes. Thirteen hours and six frigging minutes. That’s well over double the six-hour life of this generation’s ultrabooks, more than the most stamina-happy tablets, and way more than any smartphone.

In day-to-day usage, it’s equally good. Unplugged and working pretty hard — with Photoshop, Chrome, and a bevy of background services like TweetDeck and Outlook running, not to mention streaming audio over Bluetooth — the Air lasted between seven and eight hours, and up to 10 if we turned the brightness down and Bluetooth off. That’s simply stunning."
 
Despite my usual rants about Mr. Mossberg (Apple's #1 Fanboy), in all fairness his testing methodology is one of the toughest and tries to emulate real life better than most - here's his description:

"For these tests, I used the same tough laptop battery test I’ve used for years. I disable all power-saving features, crank the screen brightness to 100 percent, leave on the Wi-Fi to collect email in the background and play an endless loop of music until the computer loses power and shuts off."
 
Secret Sauce
 
So, Microsoft and the dwarfs (OEM's - well, maybe not Lenovo), the secret sauce for Windows 8 success is going to be the combination of Haswell and Windows 8.1.  Resist the temptation to eliminate all that space for a wafer thin tablet, and follow the lead of INCREASING battery size (Apple added almost 8%), CUSTOMIZING CPU utilization (really take advantage of those new idle and sleep states), turn off unused hardware (do we really need Bluetooth running 24/7) and stay away from minuscule fonts on battery busting, eye-straining, ultra-hi res laptop screens (save that for the 27" WQHD monitors my Surface Pro supports).
 
There may be another closer in the Wintel (haven't heard that in a while, have you) bullpen - the Atom Bay Trail processor. Rumored to address 4gb of RAM, full SSD support, and USB 3.0, all in a chip more efficient than the current model, would make the 14 HP Envy x2 an 18 hour workhorse. This fall could be the beginning of the rush to Windows 8 and convertible tablet heaven.

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