There are two ways to make a laptop run longer on a single battery charge. You can give it a bigger battery, or you can reduce the amount of power it uses. Netbook makers have taken both approaches, by using low power processors and solid state disks and cramming 4 annd 6 cell batteries with capacities as high as 6600mAh into tiny laptops.
Now one of the innovators behind the first netbook, the OLPC XO Laptop, is working on new technology that could dramatically reduce laptop power consumption.
One of the most power hungry elements of any computer is the display. But the XO Laptop has a special low power screen that also happens to be easily readable outside. Mary Lou Jepsen designed that display. And now she’s working with a new company called Pixel Qi to improve on the design and create displays that use so little power that you’ll be able to run a laptop for 20 hours or more on a single charge.
The screens will likely show up in the next generation XO Laptop, but I could certainly see other netbook and laptop makers using the technology.