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Amazon and Barnes & Noble Jostle Over Battery Life Figures for Nook, Kindle 160

Posted by timothy
from the they-last-forever-in-heaven dept.
destinyland writes "Amazon just doubled the reported battery life for their Kindle digital readers — but they did it by cutting the estimated daily usage in half. Monday Amazon's competitor Barnes and Noble released a new touch-screen version of their Nook reader, and C|Net notes that apparently Amazon 'took issue with how its competitor was calculating and presenting its battery life numbers.' When Barnes and Noble claimed that the Nook's charge lasted twice as long based on a half hour a day of usage, Amazon simply recalculated the Kindle's battery life using the same formula. By Wednesday, Barnes and Noble was insisting that the Nook's charge still lasted twice as long as the Kindle's. 'If that's true, then Barnes and Noble mangled the launch of their touch-screen Nook,' reports one Kindle blog, 'by botching their description of one of its main selling points.'"
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Amazon and Barnes & Noble Jostle Over Battery Life Figures for Nook, Kindle

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  • How About ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @10:23AM (#36279252)
    How about stating the battery life in actual hours of continuous use instead of estimated days based on estimated usage? Is that really so hard?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SquirrelDeth (1972694)
      Yes from a marketing point of view. It's a game to see who can come up with the longest battery time using the most convoluted methods to sell the product its better to sell a product and have a disappointed customer than not sell a product. Chances they wouldn't buy another product any ways.
      • by Surt (22457)

        I find it a stretch to believe that battery life would be the deciding factor for purchase on these devices. Once you pass one day worth of reading time (and they both have), who cares?

        • I think this is exactly it. There is a point of diminishing returns, once you're past that, you should be looking at other considerations, such as size, weight, useful features, etc. Recharging once a week is about a sweet spot for me. More often is annoying, any longer, and I might lose the charging cable.

        • by Raenex (947668)

          When it comes to comparing items, especially electronic ones, the numbers game is huge when it comes to consumer decisions. All else being equal, people will go for the bigger number.

          • by Surt (22457)

            Sure, I'm just surprised neither competitor is choosing to compete on a different number. For example, weight.

        • by arkenian (1560563)
          while I agree at some level, at least a week with the wireless off is kind of a minimum for me. Why? Becuase I use my kindle all the time. With my phone I can plug it in at the end of the day, but my kindle may still be in my hands when I fall asleep, and then I like to bring it with me, etc. etc. So overall, finding a time and remembering to charge it is a much bigger issue than with a phone for my use profile (and while mine is a bit extreme, its by no means unique.) And a standard 'day' of continuo
        • by SomePgmr (2021234)
          The real joke is that all these readers have the same battery life... "crazy long time". We have a kindle and nook (the b&w+bottom color one). They both last forever between charges.
    • Re:How About ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TD-Linux (1295697) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @10:34AM (#36279286)
      On eInk based readers, it's actually harder than that. How many times do you flip the page in an hour? The number of pageflips per charge seems like a better metric.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BrokenHalo (565198)
        I don't have first-hand experience of this (yet), but my wife seems to get over 2 weeks between charges on her Sony PRX-650 reader (a birthday present from yours truly). And she gets through books at a prodigious rate - thousands of page-turns per week. It was mainly the fact that the device seems to offer just about the best multi-format support that was the biggest selling point, but power usage seems fairly impressive to me.
      • My Sony PRS-505, when new, was good for 2-3 weeks of an hour or two per night. And I could leave it lay on the bed stand for a week or three without worrying about the charge.

        After 2-3 years, I have to tend to it at least every other week for it to stay charged and useful.

        (Fewer books and no add-in cards helps. The SD card slot was always a battery killer compared to the Sony Memory Stick Duo.)
      • Yes, and you can expect several thousand page flips. Which is to say, at least half a dozen books (keeping in mind that a 6" 600x800 page is smaller in terms of how much readable text fits on it, compared to a paper book). Which, for all practical purposes, means that you'll get bored with it long before the battery runs out.

        I usually forget to charge my Kindle (just because it's such a rare occasion) until it starts complaining about low battery while reading - which seems to happen every other week or so.

      • by MHolmesIV (253236)

        Aah, and even that differs. The CPU usage involved in laying out only a few words (at the largest font sized) is much less than laying out a lot of words (at the smallest) so you have to specify pages turns at font size X. Also, a complex book will take more CPU to lay out, so now you have to specify the complexity of the book too.

        And even more than that, you'll get different numbers of pages turned if you turn 1 page a minute (let's say you're an average to slow reader) or 1 page a second (reeeally fast r

    • Re:How About ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hope Thelps (322083) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @10:34AM (#36279290)

      How about stating the battery life in actual hours of continuous use instead of estimated days based on estimated usage? Is that really so hard?

      Pretty hard. The Kindle (and presumably the Nook?) doesn't use battery power to just sit there showing a page while you read it; it only uses power when you turn the page (or connect to WIFI or 3G). The rate at which you need to turn pages (and thus use power) is going to depend on a combination of your reading speed, the nature of the material, and the font size you've set. You can make assumptions for all that but it still really comes down to "estimated usage".

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Obviously three benchmarks are needed. One is how long you can turn pages at a given rate. Another is how long it can sit and play mp3s. The third is how long it can do both. This should cover the primary usage patterns...

      • by vadim_t (324782)

        I imagine it still uses a little bit to power some memory to store the page you're on, maybe some filesystem structures and such things.

      • "it only uses power when you turn the page (or connect to WIFI or 3G)."

        Then provide the power consumption for 1000 pages turned , or for constant wifi usage. That way, you can do estimate.
    • If they did some easy to understand common sense metric it might reveal how much the battery life sucks. Sounds to me like they ALL are trying to hide something.
      • I only have a Kindle, but I have yet to come close to its battery limits. It seems to have a pretty good battery/power draw combination. I imagine the Nook is similar.

        This is, as far as I can tell, just a stupid pissing contest.

        • by Surt (22457)

          Indeed stupid, since both readers have long passed the charge required for a full day's worth of reading. I can't imagine who cares beyond that.

        • by mspohr (589790)
          I agree. My Kindle (WiFi only, no cell data) goes literally for months before needing a charge. I just don't worry about it. This is just a stupid testosterone fueled marketing war about something that is just not a factor for anyone.
    • by Jaktar (975138)

      It is hard when the number you'd have to put on the box is lower than the last generation you produced.

      Marketing speak at its finest.

    • by fermion (181285)
      My impression was that the Kindle and Nook both use technology that only uses large amounts of power when the page is turned. This means that hours of continuous use is not really a good metric, as they can just base this on a slow reader, say 15 page flips an hour.

      What they should be doing is like the number for the iphone. Give expected battery life for different uses: some number of page turns, some number for web browsing, etc. Of couse, as this is only marketing, transparency and honesty has noth

    • by msauve (701917)
      Do you often read for 48+ hours straight?
      • by halivar (535827)

        Someone handed me Lord of the Rings when I was 20. I missed meals and classes for 2 days. /shame

      • As the poster above said. LOTR, also read the entire Harry Potter series beginning to end in around two days. For avid readers of series it could be an issue.

        • You do know that, at least on the kindle, you can charge while reading right? The plug isn't even in an awkward place.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      How about battery life in percentages of Libraries of Congress that can be read on a single charge?
    • by peragrin (659227)

      How about stating hard drive size in actual bytes sizes, instead of base ten math?

      Marketing depts always get their way even if it is a lie.

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        They do measure it in bytes - you just want them to divide it by a number divisible by 2 only, and the marketers divide it by a number divisible by 10. Frankly I could care less as long as they label the units clearly - if I care I can figure it out.

        The battery life issue is a bit different, since they aren't measured in any kind of standard units that lets me compare claims easily. I'd be happy if they just declared how many joules the battery contains, what the steady-state wattage is when powered on, a

      • by hazydave (96747)

        Hard drives are rated in bytes... base 10 bytes. That's MB and GB, not MiB or GiB. Sure, it favors the marketing, but it is also the proper unit for a hard drive, or a human. The power of two sizing is only appropriate for RAM and ROM integrated circuit devices. Don't blame your hard drive when its your OS using the inappropriate units.

    • I just invented some tires that last twice as long as any other tires made today*


      *Figure based on assumption that car will be driven straight with no stopping or turning.
    • by Bert64 (520050)

      Exactly, i have no problem charging a device daily while i sleep... But i want to be sure that even under heavy use, that device will last the whole day should i choose to make such heavy use of it.

    • How about stating the battery life in actual hours of continuous use instead of estimated days based on estimated usage? Is that really so hard?

      With an e-ink display, it isn't so much the number of hours in use... It's more about how many times the screen refreshes.

      Of course the device will use some power just sitting there idle... But e-ink doesn't really draw power except when it refreshes the screen. So, if you're actively reading and flipping lots of pages, you'll burn through the battery. If you're somewhat distracted, or a slow reader, or if you're looking at a single page for some reason (a diagram, or something) it'll last longer.

      And th

    • How about stating the battery life in actual hours of continuous use instead of estimated days based on estimated usage? Is that really so hard?

      Would be unfair to any device that uses very little power while not in use vs. one that uses batteries while in use. I could have device A doing 24 hours continues and B doing only 20 hours, but device A running out after 3 days with 2 hours per day, while device B lasts 9 days with 2 hours per day. I'd most likely prefer B which would look worse according to your criterion.

      In the beginning of MP3 players, everybody except Sony counted 1 song = 4 minutes at 128 Kbit for capacity of their players. Sony co

    • Because they didn't learn from what happened to the laptop industry. Was it 5-6 years ago when the advertising regulating body told manufacturers to quote accurate battery life. Amnesia is very common in the tech industry... I guess it's only an amount of time before fines drill some sense into tablet manufacturers.
    • by curunir (98273) *

      Yes, because there's no concept of continuous use when it comes to a device like the Kindle...it would all depend on how fast you read each page. Devices like the Kindle should have their battery life measured in page refreshes rather than hours. The only thing that uses power continuously is the wireless, which kills battery life anyways.

      And the whole argument is foolish to begin with considering the non-wireless battery life for these devices tends to be measured not in days or even weeks but rather month

    • I think two specs would work perfectly. One for continuous use and one for continuous standby. Then the consumer (intelligent fellow that he is :) ) can determine the best mix. Of course if their batteries were standardized and interchangeable it could be worse (from a bad marketing perspective). They would then just say it last twice as long. Twice as long as what, no one would know.
  • (fine print: at 2 microseconds per day)
  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Sunday May 29, 2011 @10:29AM (#36279272) Homepage

    I own the original Nook, and get in at least an hour, usually two or more, spread throughout the day. Do people buying dedicated e-readers (as opposed to color tablets) really only get in a half hour every day? I'd thought the market was mostly for readers like me.

    Then again Amazon is no saint here either, with their "50% higher contrast Kindle 3!" which in reality only had 6% darker (to the eye) blacks.

    • by taxman_10m (41083)

      Thanks. I was wondering if the new eInk screens are worth it with the advertised higher contrast. I also have an original Nook so I guess the new screen isn't different enough to merit an upgrade.

      I don't get the obsession over battery life either. When I read I have airplane mode on. It lasts long enough for my use.

      • Re:Half hour a day? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by halivar (535827) <bfelger&gmail,com> on Sunday May 29, 2011 @10:43AM (#36279318) Homepage

        Myself, I prefer the lower contrast of the Kindle specifically because it most emulates the faded, cheap ink and light bleached paper of your standard paperback novel. I can sit for 8 hour stretches and forget I'm holding an electronic device.

        But that's just me.

      • by gfxguy (98788)

        Well, I bought a couple of Nooks last year (mostly for the kids before going on vacation); they've been great (despite my ethical problems with digital licensing and the occasional e-book that actually costs more than the digital version).

        One of the selling points at the time was not so much battery life, but user replaceable batteries. With the Nook, you could walk into a B&N and buy a new battery and replace it yourself... with the Kindle you had to send it in, at your expense, to have the battery re

        • I find it laughable that this is what it comes down to.

          Something that would set a reader worlds ahead of the others is proper typesetting. I want automatic hyphenation, good kerning, ligatures, hanging punctuation, and paragraph-optimized justification.

          Should all be completely doable on a low-power device. This is the last great advantage that books have over e-readers. The first one to get these things wins, hands down. I fear it'll be a long time coming though, since a lot of these devices seem to be designed by people who don't actually read.

          • The iPad does all this.

            • ... for about a half hour a day before needing a charge.

              (I kid, I kid)

        • One of the selling points at the time was not so much battery life, but user replaceable batteries. With the Nook, you could walk into a B&N and buy a new battery and replace it yourself... with the Kindle you had to send it in, at your expense, to have the battery replaced.

          That's one of the main reasons my wife and I bought nooks, instead of kindles.

          She's got an old iPod... 1st or 2nd generation, I'm not sure which. It still functions just fine, but the battery is completely shot. Has been for ages. I don't think it actually lasted longer than a year. We still use the thing in a docking station, but it is no longer portable. It has to be plugged in to power to work.

          I didn't want a repeat of that with my nook.

          You can buy replacement batteries at B&N, as well as Best

    • I own the original Nook, and get in at least an hour, usually two or more, spread throughout the day. Do people buying dedicated e-readers (as opposed to color tablets) really only get in a half hour every day? I'd thought the market was mostly for readers like me.

      Yeah... That figure seems a bit odd to me, as well.

      I bought a nook because I read a good amount. Reading is one of my primary timesinks. I'll easily put in half an hour over a lunch break... Another 15-30 minutes here and there throughout the day as I'm waiting for appointments or meetings or whatever to start... And then a good hour or two in the evening... And that's all during the week. On the weekend, or a holiday, I can spend 6-8 hours reading a good book.

      I mean, if I only read 30 minutes a day,

    • I can't speak to what Amazon measured as "50%" nor what PhrostyMcByte measured at "6%" ... they both sound like strange attempts to connote more than measure. However, I WILL note that I happened to buy my partner a Kindle 2 shortly before the Kindle 3 launch, and used the device enough to find it "pretty good, but I sure wish the contrast was better." This is subjective, but definitely what I found in the conditions in which I normally read (she used it more than I did, but I read enough on it to get a s

      • I can't speak to what Amazon measured as "50%" nor what PhrostyMcByte measured at "6%" ... they both sound like strange attempts to connote more than measure.

        The 6% is a fact -- E-Ink's website has all the technical details of their Pearl screen, and anyone can do the math. I was curious about it so I did. The 50% number is technically correct, but is cheating a little. It corresponds to the amount of light reflected and NOT the perceived brightness (your eyes don't see twice the photons as 2x brighter).

        E-Ink already has pretty poor contrast... about as much as a newspaper if you're in good light, and significantly less in poor light. I'm not knocking progre

    • by Quirkz (1206400)
      I haven't turned on my Nook in 6 months, so I guess you and I even out. The weird thing is, I do really like the Nook, but I go through spurts with it. Those spurts end when I pick up a dozen books at a library sale or on the rare occasion I make it to a Half Price Books and can stock up. When those books run out, I go back to the Nook.
  • by errandum (2014454) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @10:39AM (#36279312)

    Just say "it allows for 20000 page turns"

    That way it's not a relative time, but a real number people can evaluate.

    It's like saying my Mac can stay on for 30 days and not mentioning the fact that it's on standby.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      It's like saying my Mac can stay on for 30 days and not mentioning the fact that it's on standby.

      But can it? One of my machines has a bug that makes it use 10% of the battery no matter what condition it's in (unless it's actually off. But then it still leaks pretty good.)

    • by hedwards (940851)

      The problem is that all page turns aren't created equally. You'll get markedly less battery life if you use the software to enlarge or shrink the text. Not to mention that you'll get differing amounts of run time depending upon what type of documents you're looking at.

      • by errandum (2014454)

        I'd say that the standard font size with the standard book would be an accurate measure.

        When apple says a computer lasts 7 hours it doesn't mean you'll be playing a game for 7 hours. Just that you'll do some mixed web browsing and document editing.

        Still way more exact than time. With every connectivity feature off and in busy months (less reading) I've used my kindle for over 2 months between charges :)

      • You'll get markedly less battery life if you use the software to enlarge or shrink the text.

        Why would you? Both native book formats (ePub and MobiPocket) are essentially zipped HTML; they don't have any "normal" text size for which there is a precomputed text flow. So, regardless of how you enlarge or shrink text, a page turn is going to take the same amount of power to process.

        Now, yes, you'll need more page turns to read through the book if you use larger text. But that's a different matter, and doesn't affect the validity of using page turn count as a measure for battery life for eInk readers.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          I take it you haven't actually used one. Whenever you change the font size it takes a period of time to recalculate the pagination and if you're not using the default size it can't just use the pagination that's been given for the rest of the book. Which means that it has to recalculate whenever you open it and you end up with more battery use. Additionally, because the page displayed needs to correspond to the page in the book, the ereader has to calculate that as well.

          • I take it you haven't actually used one.

            I've owned 4 e-Ink readers all in all. I presently own a Kindle (3rd gen) and a Kindle DX.

            Whenever you change the font size it takes a period of time to recalculate the pagination

            Yes, but that is a one-time thing that happens when you change the setting (or open the book for the first time).

            if you're not using the default size it can't just use the pagination that's been given for the rest of the book

            There is no embedded pagination in either ePub or MobiPocket - it's really just HTML with a table of content. It's not tied to any particular device, font size etc - how could it possibly have any embedded pagination?

            When you first open a book on your device, it has to be paginated even with the "default" fo

    • Just say "it allows for 20000 page turns"

      Even that wouldn't be terribly accurate though...

      Leaving the device idle draws power, too. So I could do 10,000 pageturns, and leave my device idle for a couple days, and then only have enough power for 5,000 more pageturns.

      And if I'm using the wi-fi to download books, that number will go lower still. Or if I'm using 3G on the edge of network coverage, it'll be even lower.

      • by errandum (2014454)

        Meh, that could easily be factored into the pageturns.

        Just assume all pageturns are consecutive. The kindle, at least, lets you turn off your wifi, so you can make those pre-conditions to your test

        (ex: test on a wifi-kindle with wifi off, and done during X number of days).

        Way more accurate than saying "it lasts 2 years" (if you don't touch it).

  • by Futile Rhetoric (1105323) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @10:45AM (#36279328)

    Whoever came up with this comparison chart will be first up against a wall when the revolution comes:

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/G/01/kindle/shasta/photos/image-battery-life.gif [ssl-images-amazon.com]

    • by Nimey (114278)

      Two months' battery at half an hour of reading per day? Shyeah, who reads on that schedule?

      • Two months' battery at half an hour of reading per day? Shyeah, who reads on that schedule?

        Busy people. I read "on the can" and maybe a little before bed if I'm not to tired. I'm sure I average less than 30 minutes per day.

        • Are you too busy to charge it more than once every two months? I don't think the comment was deriding people who read less than 30 minutes a day, only pointing out that 30 minutes a day between 2 month charges isn't really a meaningful schedule to anyone.
      • by fluch (126140)

        Shyeah, who reads on that schedule?

        People who want to bost themself with how many books their device has loaded on but do not actually read books... ;-)

    • by similar_name (1164087) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @11:24AM (#36279496)
      Did you know the average human can lift their own body weight (on average about 150 lbs) but I can lift 15,000 lbs*


      *My strength assumes lifting one pound at a time over a one year period.


      By the way, that pic should be some kind of statistical goatse. It's disgusting.
      • by iggymanz (596061)

        and I can do that 15,000 lbs. with my penis (assuming twenty 1 oz. lifts daily over 33 years)

    • by Surt (22457)

      What's really depressing, to me, is that if I were a marketer, I could do better. For example, given the same data, I'd create a graph of '4-hour reading sessions per charge'. With the other devices getting 1,2,3, and kindle getting 8. (More than double! More than a week's worth of heavy reading on a single charge!). Let people extrapolate to their own reading habits.

      Or use 'marathon 12 hour reading sessions per charge'. Competitor devices get 0, 0, 0. Kindle gets 2!

  • by cerberusss (660701) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @10:53AM (#36279362) Homepage Journal

    I brought my Kindle 3 to China. It's a long flight, so I read a lot in the airplane. A couple of days I read only 30 minutes, and for three days, I stayed in the hostel because I got sick of something I ate. So in those three days, I read up to 6 hours per day. All in all, the holiday lasted 12 days and I had about 25% charge left at the end of the holiday.

  • So, why do we have a consumer protection agency?

    DO we even have a consumer protection agency? I'm getting the feeling lately we consumers are being pretty much abandoned, with Apple pulling all those dirty misleading walled-garden tricks, Google successfully using the tagline "do no evil", and now this.

    • by dwillden (521345)
      How does a difference like this hurt you? The FTC is really there to prevent truly harmful practices. Bait and switch, dangerous items, devices that don't even begin to perform their advertised function.

      Since usage is entirely reliant on how you actually use it, not some perfect world usage, that is virtually unachievable in real life. Unless you can prove that the real battery life is substantially different under similar identical conditions as advertised, there is nothing to protect against this.
      • So using your logic, the police should be putting all their effort in chasing the truly big criminals, and they should stop handing out traffic tickets.

  • by Nimey (114278) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @11:12AM (#36279456) Homepage Journal

    You have at least two or three variables, depending:

    1) Is your wireless/3G on? That drains more quickly than just reading does.
    2) How many page-flips?
    3) Do you have the fancy cover with the pop-out LED light that draws from the Kindle battery, and how much do you use it?
    4) How much time spend actually reading, vs. in standby? Not a whole lot of power savings in standby, but the CPU's at least in deeper sleep.

    With the light and the wireless on, I can drain a battery in several hours' continuous usage, or (more likely) two to three days on my normal schedule. I don't normally leave the wireless on, though. I understand Amazon claimed a month of usage without wireless or light, but that obviously depends on how many books you'll read in a month.

    • Actually, it seems that once you disable networking (both WiFi and 3G) on Kindle, its standby is really more like hibernate - I left it lying around for weeks in that state without significant effect on the battery.

  • by wonkavader (605434) on Sunday May 29, 2011 @11:13AM (#36279462)

    This is an Android-based device for $139. It has an e-Ink display and a touch screen. I'm buying one the day after it's rooted.

    Does anyone know enough about the touch-screen method this uses to tell me whether it can present two datapoints at a time? (Can the hardware be used to do multi-touch?)

    • This is an Android-based device for $139. It has an e-Ink display and a touch screen. I'm buying one the day after it's rooted.

      Does anyone know enough about the touch-screen method this uses to tell me whether it can present two datapoints at a time? (Can the hardware be used to do multi-touch?)

      It is my understanding that the nook has already been rooted.

      http://nookdevs.com/ [nookdevs.com]

      • This kind of looks like a completely different device. If it were essentially the same, then that would indeed be fantastic, as it looks like putting whatever you want on it would already be essentially done to the point of being sealed up with a bow.

        • All the nooks are relatively similar - they're all running B&N's customized load of Android.

          Both the 1st edition nook and the nook color have been rooted. There's even a relatively friendly software-only root available.

          I assume that the new and improved nook will be rooted very quickly, if the current techniques don't already work on it.

  • Umm then why bother even getting a reader?

    • Umm then why bother even getting a reader?

      Some people have busy lives. Some people are into nonfiction that's difficult to digest.

      I plan to buy a reader when the right device comes along. The technical stuff that I like to read is best consumed in small chunks. Highly technical stuff can be very taxing. It's a whole different ballgame than fiction.

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