Hot-Swappable Batteries Enable Endless Use for Mobile Professionals

For the past 15 years Panasonic has been equipping field technicians in industries such as utilities and telecommunications with rugged, mobile computing devices. Extended battery life is essential as these technicians are often in the field for an entire shift. As a result, Panasonic has always offered industry-leading battery life in its rugged line of Toughbook mobile computers. When Panasonic launched the ultra-mobile Toughbook U1, it introduced a new feature – twin hot-swappable batteries. Customers immediately saw the value in this function, and Panasonic continued to integrate twin hot-swappable batteries in the Toughbook H1 Health and H1 Field.

The hot-swap capability means that a device includes two high-capacity battery packs, not merely a main battery and a small “bridge” battery. This allows users to change a battery without having to turn the power off or reboot the system, extending running time. Plus, it removes the burden of having to swap your main battery in a very short time, which is not always practical. Using a battery charger, you can keep spares fully charged and take them with you. In situations where you can’t run on AC power or recharge batteries, this reserve power can make a significant difference.

In today’s business landscape, the mobile professional category represents a new opportunity and challenge. According to the Yankee Group, mobile professionals represent 46% of all mobile workers and that percentage will continue to grow. The analyst firm’s “Mobile Outlook 2011,” found that roughly one-third of all employees in U.S. businesses can be considered mobile, spending at least 20% of their time away from the primary office or workspace. As a result, it is common for these users to sacrifice either weight or battery life in order to use a mobile computer for extended periods of time.

Standard batteries – in many cases – are light in weight but often deliver poor life. As a result, mobile professionals are forced to use long-life batteries to meet their needs for extended uptime. These extended-life batteries, which I refer to as Goiter batteries, impact the device’s weight and also its footprint – making that small and light laptop larger and heavier. And, because they extend beyond the laptop’s case, these larger batteries offer an increased opportunity for failure.

To resolve this conflict, Panasonic has applied its hot-swappable twin battery design to the business-rugged Toughbook C1 convertible tablet to enable extended battery life and light weight for mobile professionals. With two batteries, the Toughbook C1 can run for about 10 hours and only weighs 3.7 pounds. However, if the extra battery life is not needed, the C1 ships with a dummy pack and can run for five hours on a single battery, which decreases the weight to a phenomenal 3.2 pounds.

With traditional notebooks, replacing a battery requires the PC to be powered down and rebooted. This downtime can be detrimental for many mobile professionals, such as pharmaceutical sales representatives who frequently spend long hours waiting to present the latest drugs and equipment to doctors. This window of opportunity is often a matter of minutes; therefore, it’s essential to have the computer running at all times.

For nurses or other mobile workers that select a device from a number of units on a charging rack, Panasonic has designed the C1 to clearly indicate up to four charge levels at the front edge of the case. At a quick glance, you can tell how much power each battery has. Without this feature, machines would be selected at random. If a device with a low charge was chosen, the battery could die during offsite duties – resulting in significant downtime and lost productivity.  Of course, the ability to swap in a charged spare could help mitigate that.

When evaluating mobile devices, we recommend closely examining battery life. Devices with standard batteries that do not offer significant life should not even be considered.  In today’s mobile world, a laptop should be able to achieve six to eight hours of life without having to use an extended-life battery. In addition, notebooks that offer twin hot-swappable batteries allow users to truly take advantage of mobility. More information on Panasonic’s hot-swappable battery technology can be found here.