How much battery life does your laptop or netbook have? I don't know. I bet you don't know either. Or, at the very least, you're probably relying on a manufacturer's statement as to just how much computing time you can get on a fully charged battery. But as you well know, your battery life can vary depending on how you use your laptop: If you're rocking the brightness at maximum, keeping an active Wi-Fi on at all times, and burning your CPU at full-blast, you're going to run through your available power far faster than if your laptop was doing little-to-nothing.
Sure, you can hover your mouse over the battery icon of your Windows taskbar to estimate just how much juice is left in the pitcher. But if you want a more comprehensive analysis of how your portable PC will perform at full-blast under whatever conditions you've set up, you'll need to turn to a third-party utility for the full breakdown.
And as it just so happens, I have the perfect piece of freeware in mind: Imtec Battery Mark. This program is pretty simple in its operation -- it cranks your CPU up to full bore for a set period of time while measuring how much battery goes bye-bye. If you run the fast test, you get an estimation of how much you could use your computer under such egregious settings. If you run the normal test, the estimation is a bit more accurate given the length of the recording/quasi-benchmarking process. Oh, and you can even run both tests without the CPU jacked up to maximum, in case you just want to figure out how long your laptop will last under its current conditions.
If you really want to give your laptop or netbook the work-over, be sure to run the tests under various conditions: with the Wi-Fi on and off, with Bluetooth enabled or disabled, with your screen brightness set to different levels, et cetera. Become your own laptop power benchmarker and you'll be able to figure out exactly how much time you'll likely get under the most frequent conditions you use your system. It's as easy as that.
Every Wednesday, Maximum PC picks a new free or shareware download as its favorite of the week. Have a nifty application that you can't live without? Twitter David Murphy @acererak with your latest suggestions.