Like most of you, I’m very much in favor of long battery life for my notebook and especially my netbook. I prefer to get a good, long-lasting battery with my computer when I buy it, but for something that will give me all-day power, I’m willing to buy another one. Up until last week, the MSI Wind got the best battery power of any netbook we’d seen. The Samsung NC10 surpassed it at about 6.5 hours on 40% brightness with a six-cell battery, which is pretty impressive. But in my heart of hearts, I’m looking to get seven hours or more, if I can. It’s possible, but requires a bigger battery; a much bigger battery. We got a third party 9-cell battery for the MSI Wind and tested it out. The result was an astonishing 7 hours and 32 minutes of battery life. A very happy result. We also tested a three-cell, just to see what kind of life it would get. A paltry 2 hours and 7 minutes resulted. So if you’re looking for an all day netbook, 9 cells is the way to go. At least for the MSI Wind.
There are some drawbacks, though. First, the price. The battery we tested is available for $179.95 at Lion Battery (pre-orders only for now). That’s pretty hefty, especially if you’ve already spent around $500 – $600 for the netbook itself. Also, the nine-cell is bulkier than the 6 or 3-cell units. The battery we have is flush with the back of the unit so that the extra bulk ends up below. The tilt isn’t bad as the unit is only raised about 3/4ths of an inch, but it is significant. And with the 9-cell in, the laptop weighs 3.2 pounds. With the 6-cell it’s 2.6 pounds, more than half a pound lighter. And with netbooks, being lightweight is key. Which is more important to you: longer battery life or a lighter netbook? Which stings more: the extra weight or the extra cost? If price didn’t matter, I would opt for longer battery life, because 3.2 pounds is still pretty light. If the system were 4 or 5 pounds, I might have to think about it more. I do wish that there was a way to make the extended battery less extended (physically). I like that with the Blue Label Toshiba E105 more space was found in the machine itself so that the battery is flush with the outside. With netbooks, that may not be an option, as they’re already packed into a tiny space. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the day when batteries themselves are smaller, or the hand-crank comes into style.