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August 4, 2008

The Lying Meter

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

battery meter
The search for truth in the universe will not be making a stop at your laptop’s battery meter.

Everyone knows that a car’s fuel gauge lies. It has to. When the needle slides over to the big E, it’s common knowledge that the gas tank isn’t exactly empty. Nope. There’s still a smidgen left, maybe enough to drive 20 miles or so. No need to panic.

Yes, mankind puts up with the falsehoods of the fuel gauge. People also seem to tolerate the fact that the needle seems to move a little slower from Full to mid-point than it crashes from mid-point down to the big E. Nope, that’s not your eyeballs deceiving you. As a recent article points out, most of the meters in your life mislead you.

Your laptop and cell phone battery meter is a thief of the truth. From the article:

When your phone still (apparently) has lots of charge left, you’re more likely to use it. People who think their phone’s going flat will make fewer, and shorter, calls. And that makes phone companies sad.

There is a motivation here. It’s not the science behind the meter, but rather the psychology behind the user that demands digital perjury. I don’t see anything wrong with that. As long as you accept it, fine. But do keep in mind that when that battery meter gets down to the red zone, and Windows or OS X warns you that it’s time to plug in or turn off, do so at once!


  1. I actually experience the exact opposite on my laptop. It gets down to 5%, where it stays for 20 minutes or more.

    Comment by iansinke — August 4, 2008 @ 4:22 am

  2. I want your laptop! Serious! My current laptop has a more-or-less honest meter. It says I have, say, 3 hours of time. At 1:30, the meter is at half. But it stays there for a long time. Then it races down to 20 minutes. Then 2 minutes later it’s sweating and telling me to quit. 🙂

    Comment by admin — August 4, 2008 @ 8:56 am

  3. My Lenovo T60 also tends to underestimate the amount of time left – even at 0% it still stays on for a couple more minutes. This is great but it has made me a bit complacent about plugging it in.

    Comment by JohnnyK — August 4, 2008 @ 4:31 pm

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