Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Amazing battery lifetime...

Amazing battery lifetime...  I got my new iMac Pro in the last week of December, roughly six weeks ago.  It came with a wireless keyboard and mouse that incorporate built-in rechargeable batteries, much like a smartphone has.  My old mouse used ordinary AA batteries, which I typically had to change every 3 weeks or so.  My old keyboard plugged into USB and had no batteries at all.
So one of my first questions about these new-fangled peripherals was: just how long would these batteries last on a charge?

Well, I now have the answer for one of them, the mouse.  I recharged it last night for the first time since I received the system, when it reported being at 5% of charge.  My keyboard is still at 70% of charge, after six weeks of frequent use. 

For approximately the 37 billionth time, I am just in awe of the degree of advancement in a technology, within my own lifetime.  Rechargeable batteries were basically non-existent when I was a kid.  The standard was old-fashioned zinc-acid batteries, which are actually quite difficult to buy today – alkaline batteries have basically taken over the disposable battery scene, with capacities several times that of a zinc-acid battery.

The most significant advances aren't in the batteries, though – they're in the incredibly low power consumption of even fairly sophisticated circuits like a Bluetooth optical mouse.  That's truly mind-boggling.  The simple, inexpensive optical mouse on my desk has functionality that was either impossible (Bluetooth) or really difficult (the optical movement sensing).  The latter alone would have taken a roomful of circuitry in the '50s, dominated by power-hungry vacuum tubes.  A wild guess at the power consumption would be 5 to 10 thousand watts.  My modern mouse can't consume more than a few thousandths of a watt at most.  More likely it's an order of magnitude less than that. 

And now we have an electric car headed to the asteroid belt!  :)

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