Power down

Hewlett-Packard, like most other PC and notebook vendors, is trying to limit the more power-hungry features inside its various hardware offerings. Here are several ways they are making the effort:

Tougher standards

According to Maria Del Rio-Arbuckle, product manager, workstations, point of sale, and displays, at HP Canada, customers will notice far more stringent standards being set by energy companies and more energy utility funded programs. For example, HP is certifying power supplies under the new 80 PLUS standard on its desktop line and on select workstation lines. In other words, power supplies will convert the high voltage AC power from your wall outlets down to a low voltage DC power used by the computer with 80 per cent efficiency – much higher than past levels.

In addition, the US-based Energy Star standards became much tougher recently when the 4.0 standard became effective July 20th. The specification includes 80 PLUS power supply efficiency levels for desktop computers.“You have to have three power saving states: idle, standby and hibernate and there are certain criteria within those states, says Del Rio-Arbuckle. “That’s another thing to look at.”

I’m your biggest fan

Today’s computers, with more advanced and faster chips inside, tend to run a lot hotter. As a result, vendors are improving their fan technologies so that airflow is strong enough that the box will not overheat, but not too strong since that would be a waste of power.

While the fan does draw some power, graphics cards and their accompanying power supplies are the biggest power hogs, says Del Rio-Arbuckle. “The fan is not on all the time, but if the workstation is hot all the time and if the fan isn’t working efficiently that can cause problems as well,” she adds.

Mobile moves

Darren Leroux, product marketing manager, commercial notebooks at HP Canada, says when it comes to its ultra light notebooks HP has introduced a new technology called IllumiLite, that uses LED panels instead of LCD panels in 12.1-inch ultra light notebooks. “They’re all Energy Star 4.0 compliant and they use 25 per cent less power than your typical LCD panels,” says Leroux. “And, they offer about 10 per cent more run time than your average LCD panel,” contain no mercury and are lighter.

Another basic rule to watch is your backlighting. If it is at the highest setting, it will run your battery down quickly drawing much more power. “But we have what’s called an ambient light sensor into our notebooks as well, so if it’s really bright in the room it’s going to brighten the panel so the screen doesn’t get washed out. If it’s dark it will dim the panel,” Leroux explains.

Finally, smart adapters on today’s notebooks can efficiently manage the current that goes to the notebook. With HP technology, users get a 90 per cent charge on the battery within 90 minutes of plugging in the notebook. With its extended battery solution (two batteries) the primary battery will be charged to 90 per cent within 90 minutes, then the external battery will get the same charge. The adapter will then switch back to the primary battery and finish its charge, and then do the same for the secondary battery. The bottom line is that the notebook is designed not to overcharge, preventing ruined, useless batteries – and a not-very-environmentally friendly result.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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