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Vista battery life, error in CNET article

by Brandon on May 4th, 2007

CNET just posted an article about Vista’s power management and impact on battery life.  While I’m the first to agree with the fact that the out-of-the-box power settings are not ideal for my uses, I don’t think the article was particularly fair.  For example, they didn’t even bother to cite actual battery life comparisons – nor compare the default power settings from different OEMs.

One problem is that there can only be one set of Windows Vista defaults, since there’s only one Windows Vista.  That means that some WiFi power savings features have to be turned off by default, because they don’t work reliably with certain wireless cards or access points.  That’s why Microsoft encourages OEMs to set up the standard power profiles to be appropriate for their systems.

However, there’s a notable error in the article:

The Aero interface is automatically disabled when users put their Vista notebooks into the “power-saving” profile, one of three new simplified power-management states.

That is not correct.  Switching to “power-saving” profile will disable transparent glass only when on battery power.  That is not the same as disabling Aero by any stretch.  Even in power-saving mode while on battery, you’re still running the Aero theme, everything still looks pretty, and the DWM is still running.  The only difference is that transparent window frames are disabled, which is an option that many Aero users turn off anyway.  A lot of people prefer that look.  And if you leave your notebook on “power saver” (I recommend tweaking the settings in that profile first, especially the plugged-in settings since you really don’t want it to be limiting CPU or anything while plugged in), the switch when on battery is quite seamless.

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  1. Thanks, Brandon, for the useful correction.

  2. Hello Brandon 🙂 I always see you around on Neowin forums, because that cute little dog pic you use is really nice. hehe
    So, I dropped by to thank you for your tip on Switcher, which is a really usefull util.
    Greetings from Brazil,

  3. Measuring actual power draw at the batteries is a simple matter for most systems by using the NHC (Network Hardware Control) utility:

    My experience with Vista on a Samsung Q1 UMPC shows a substantial difference in power use between Vista and XP. This is measured both in actual battery life and in watts as measured by NHC and using Samsungs own power profiles:

    Note the Q1 does not even support Aero, so that cannot be blamed in this case.

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