Windows Vista and 7 have a slew of visually pleasing and performance improving features, all of which result in your laptop battery draining out faster than you’d expect. Sure, you can switch over to the ‘Power Saver’ mode when using the battery, but switching back and forth manually doesn’t sound too good, ain’t? Permanently switching over to power saver mode isn’t a solution either, as there will be a noticeable drop in performance even when your laptop is plugged in.
This is where battery managers come in handy. These tiny tools run silently in the background, and automatically turn on / off specific Windows features depending whether you’re on battery or A/C power. We’ll take a look at five such battery tools in this post.
Vista Battery Saver
The oldest tool in the list, Battery Saver is a simple, open source and abandoned tool that does what it says, without much fuss. The tool didn’t even leave the beta stage before it was abandoned, although the beta itself works pretty smoothly.
Despite its name, Battery Saver works pretty well on 7.
Aerofoil foils Windows Aero’s attempt of sucking your battery juice, by promptly disabling loads of Aero features the moment your laptop is unplugged. This tool has been developed by the guys at ‘Silent Software’, and it indeed does its job silently in the background.
BatteryCare is one of the most comprehensive laptop battery managers out there. It packs in a lot more stuff in addition to the usual power-plan-switching and Aero-swapping features that other similar tools provide.
BatteryCare displays detail information about your laptop’s battery, and the discharge cycles completed. Every time 30 discharge cycles are reached, BatteryCare notifies you to calibrate your battery. By calibrating my battery twice over the last couple of weeks, I’ve almost completely managed to shut out the “replace your battery” warnings that Windows 7 used to show earlier.
BattCursor is a nifty tool that makes good use of Windows Aero to warn you of the charge left in your battery. Some cool stuff that the program can do include changing the color of your window borders to warn you of low battery level, and showing the charge left just beneath the mouse pointer. BattCursor doubles up as a battery manager as well, allowing you to set levels when to enable / disable Aero features. The power-plan switching feature is in there too. BattCursor has a number of other features, which I don’t think are quite necessary, but might actually woo you into using it!
Power Plan Assistant
Designed specifically for Windows 7, Power Plan Assistant boasts of unique battery features for Apple MacBooks running Windows 7 (through BootCamp). For everyone else, PPA will silently switch power plans when your laptop is plugged / unplugged. The program doesn’t have a whole lot of other features, but that actually might be a good thing.
Laptop batteries can degrade significantly over time, and while that’s not something you can quite control, you can do your bit to squeeze every drop of juice out of it, and these battery managers help you to do that. I’d personally recommend BatteryCare for all its added geekery, however feel free to choose the one you like!