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Products I Use: Valence N-Charge VNC-130

One of the things I enjoy most is talking with other authors, speakers, MVPs, and visionaries about the things they use.  Whether it’s software, hardware, or just a technique, I find that I generally enjoy knowing how they solved a problem.  This is the first in a series of posts designed to share some of the things that I’m using that everyone may not be aware of.

One of the problems I have is battery life.  I travel with a 17” widescreen notebook (currently a Dell Inspiron E1705) that sucks batteries dry in no time flat.  When I’m traveling by air I don’t always have the luxuary of a power port.  That means I have to figure out how to get enough power for those 6 hour flights to Redmond (and other places.)

The solution for me is a Valence N-Charge VNC-130.  It’s an external battery that supplies power to the notebook just like it was coming from the standard wall adapter — but it’s battery power.  So there are three key features of the N-Charge VNC-130 that I think are must have.  They are:

  1. Dimensions — The battery is flat.  It easily slides underneath the laptop I work on so that I don’t have to worry where I’m putting it.  Other external battery options are “bricks“ that need to have their own home.  The dimensions also make it easy to slide into my computer bag.
  2. No extra charger — Another great feature is that it doesn’t require a separate charger.  The charger I already carry for the notebook is enough to charge it.  There is a limitation, I can’t use the power supply from the computer to run the computer, charge the computer’s battery and charge the N-Charge at the same time.  I can, however, charge the N-Charge system while the internal battery is already charged, or I have the system turned off.
  3. Interchangible — The system uses interchangible cords that connect the battery to the laptop which means when I change laptops I can continue to use the battery — I just have to buy a different cord to connect to the laptop.  Sure it’s $30 for the new cord, but  it’s a $300 investment to get the battery in the first place — it’s a small price to pay.

OK, I left the best for last.  How long can I get on the battery?  Hours and hours.  Even if I’ve got my system in it’s most power hungry mode, I can run for almost 4 hours.  (the internal battery lasts a little over 2 hours at these settings.)  The net effect if I use even moderate power consumption (reducing the brightness of the screen, setting the processors for dynamic CPU speed, etc.) I get well more than the 5-6 hours I need for flights across the US.

This is one of those tools that I hesitated to buy but have decided that I love now that I have it.  If you have ever traveled and not had enough power to complete your work — it’s a valuable investment

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