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Perhaps the most controversial change to the 17-inch MacBook Pro is the new built-in battery. That's right: You won't be swapping batteries anymore if you're working on lengthy cross-country flights. Of course, if Apple's estimates are correct, you won't have to. That's because the 95-watt/hour lithium-ion polymer battery lasts up to eight hours -- seven, if you're using the more powerful nVidia 9600M GT graphics chip.
Apple arrives at its estimates by turning the screen brightness down to half and leaving Wi-Fi on. With those parameters in place, I managed just under 6.5 hours on battery while surfing, doing text editing, playing iTunes at times and transferring a few files -- the longest I've ever gotten from one charge.
Your mileage will undoubtedly vary, depending on how you're using the laptop -- especially if you're hitting the processor hard. DVD playback at full brightness and in full-screen mode takes a toll, too. Apple says to expect about four hours and 15 minutes when watching movies. That's about twice what earlier models got.
Apple custom-designed the battery and used as much room in the expansive 17-inch chassis as possible. In fact, it even eliminated the battery-removal mechanism used in earlier models -- just to make a little more space for the new battery. (Since there's no latch on the bottom of the laptop, accessing the RAM and hard drive now requires the removal of 10 very small screws.)
And it has introduced new adaptive-charging technology specific to this model that meters out battery charging depending on what you're doing at the time. The goal was to extend the life of the battery so that you won't have to replace it anytime soon.
Apple estimates the battery should be good for 1,000 charge cycles -- more than three times the number for a typical laptop battery -- or about five years. That's assuming four full charges a week, at eight hours a charge. Naturally, your battery life will vary.
If you do need the battery replaced, you'll have to get Apple or an Apple authorized service centre to do it for you. Apple says the job can be done in a day.
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