Battery Life & Portability

Battery Life

In the post-PC era, tablets are the next in line to dominate the consumer electronics market. These slates, which are designed to be portable computing devices, are benchmarked by one very important feature - battery mileage. Without an infinite power source, the tablet relies on its batteries to keep it going during your daily commute. Unfortunately, tablets in the pre-iPad days came with abysmal battery life, often clocking no more than 3 hours of light usage.

Fortunately, the tides have shifted in favor of these mobile devices, with the advancement of technology on the hardware and software front. Operating systems such as Apple's iOS and Google's Android are optimized for the mobile platform, ensuring a longer usage time for the tablet form factor. Furthermore, the adoption of processers based on the ARM architecture are built to improve power efficiency and increase performance. The advent of flash storage and power-saving technology have also contributed to the evolution of the tablet industry.

Nonetheless, this is still highly dependent on the user. The frequency at which one taps into the internet, the screen brightness and constant playing of multimedia files on the tablet can affect the overall mileage. To date, there's been a bevy of tablets that have performed substantially well, doubling the mileage of its predecessors even when it's battered with a barrage of resource intensive tests.

Tip: A long battery life is preferred, but if it comes at the expense of a smaller screen or lower resolution, you might want to reconsider your options.

Over the year, we have subjected multiple tablets to our battery test, which involves testing a video with a 720 x 1280-pixel resolution looping under the following conditions:

  • Screen brightness and volume at 100%
     
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections active
     
  • Constant data stream via email and Twitter

To give you a better idea of how the recent tablets fared in our tests, here's a quick glance at their performance:

Portability

While the battery life is one crucial factor to consider, the overall dimensions and weight also contribute to the portability of the tablet. A higher battery life is great, but if it comes at the expense of loading the tablet with more batteries and increases the weight, it's won't be as portable as it should be.Typically, tablets have gone through the range of 420g for the smaller variety, to a hefty number within the 700 to 800g range. Should you see a tablet nearing or breaking the 1kg mark, it's probably not a good idea to go for that particular range.

The numbers obtained from our battery tests can be translated to the portability of the tablet. This is achieved by calculating the ratio of the battery life to the (weight x volume) of the tablet. In this situation, a higher number translates to a better portability index, given that a higher battery life with a lower (weight x volume) index gives a higher ratio.

Lastly, even if you're chucking it into a bag to carry around, you may start to feel the weight sooner or later, though a smaller sized 7-inch tablet may alleviate this somewhat. It all boils down to your personal preference, but anything over 1kg is probably a no go. Upcoming tablets range from a light 420g to a slightly heavier 740g, making them much easier to carry around, though holding the heavier tablets up for long periods of reading and gaming may not be as fun as it sounds.

Tip: Consider not just the weight, but also the overall dimensions to determine how portable the tablet is.