Review: Take charge of your laptop battery with BatteryCare

Keep your laptop battery topped off with this top-quality freeware.

For road warriors, depending on your laptop means you depend on its battery. BatteryCare is a free utility that helps you keep your laptop battery topped off and ready to roll. It's more accurate than the typical battery meter, for starters, measuring battery discharge cycles instead of stored energy. BatteryCare's documentation and Web site offer a lot of information about how laptop batteries work as well as how to get the most out of your device's battery. It's fascinating, but we'll cut to the chase and simply note that there's a lot you can do to maximize your battery's life and performance, starting with downloading this freeware. We installed BatteryCare in a Netbook running 32-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, but it's fully compatible with Windows 8, too.

BatteryCare's System Tray icon serves as its main access point when the program is running, which should be all the time, if you want to maintain a full charge. Hovering our cursor over the icon showed our battery's current charge level, our current power plan, and CPU and HDD temperatures; clicking it produced a menu accessing Power Settings, Power Plan, and general Settings, which let us configure Notifications, Usage Statistics, and power-saving options such as pausing Aero effects and other Windows features and services when running on battery power. Double-clicking the program's tray icon produced a more detailed display, showing Battery Status, Discharge Information, Discharge Cycles Progress, and even such details as Tension (Voltage) and Wear Level.

We mentioned BatteryCare's Web site, which offers FAQs about the program, a manual for users, and a lot of information about laptop batteries and how they work. Even though BatteryCare is very easy to use, we recommend visiting its Web site since it not only helps you set up BatteryCare but will help you get the most out of all your battery-powered devices. It explains everything from the myth of the memory effect in lithium-ion batteries, to whether you should remove the battery on laptops that stay tethered to AC power most of the time (The answer? Check out BatteryCare and see for yourself!).

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