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Now you can camp with your laptop

This item just in from Fox News:

“NEC initially plans to introduce a computer with a fuel-cell system able to run for five consecutive hours on a single cartridge of methanol fuel, but also plans to make a PC within two years that can run continuously for as long as 40 hours”

If they get up to 40 hours on a single refillable charge, the laptop becomes a useful accessory for wilderness work where power is far away. This will be a major boon to naturalists, geologists and other field scientists.

It will also be of immense advantage to Special Forces. A long lived and lighter portable equipment power technology is certain to be welcome in the backpack.

9 comments to Now you can camp with your laptop

  • I’m afraid I think that the folk behind the clockwork radio, then clockwork mobile phone, clockwork laptop, and clockwork shaver are miles ahead on this one.

    When it runs out of power you wind it up. Far superior to fuel cells. That firm already opened up Africa to people with high-tech needs for remote areas half a decade ago.

  • Phil Bradley

    The key break-through is combining solar energy with fuel cell technology, such that all you need to recharge is sunlight. This technology is used to power the Helios plane that has the potential to keep flying indefinitely (although the prototype crashed a couple of days ago). http://www.llnl.gov/str/Mitlit.html

    I have no idea how easily this can be scaled down to run a laptop, but given the potential demand, I don’t doubt lots of peple are working on this technology.

  • Kevin L. Connors

    If by “Special Forces”, you mean the Land Warrior program, I’m sure you are quite correct. Battery life has been a major technical hurdle for some time there.

  • They sell solar-powered battery chargers and cellphone power sources here. Apparently the iSun weighs .75 lbs and takes 8 hours to charge 2 1500mAh NiMH batteries.

  • An hour is quite some downtime. A wind-up laptop is much quicker to recharge as well as having less to go wrong. I wasn’t joking.

  • Dale Amon

    Somehow the image of a special forces guy laying in the mud under a bush, rain pouring down from the night sky while he uses his IR glasses to pick up targets… and then cranks his laptop to pass the intelligence on… doesn’t work for me.

    Even for a campout I still think I’d rather pop in an alcohol cartridge. I wonder if they will run on ethanol as well? Then I can drink what I don’t use for computing.

    I’m afraid it would take an awful lot of sunlight or a lot of hard cranking to do a single Linux kernel compile….

  • Ah yes agreed, Dale, image is another matter!

    I’m sure that’s why development money is still being wasted on much-lighter-but-still-rather-heavy long-term batteries.

    Hand-cranked field telephones used to be the norm in the military. This wouldn’t be the first time equipment development had chosen a worse solution because it looks more modern….

  • Phil Bradley


    I think wind-up radios and flashlights are a terrific idea. But it clearly has limits. The flashlight by my calculation has to be wound for 23 minutes to get a full charge, and the blurb implies the speed at which you wind significantly affects the charge rate, so in practice probably longer.

    I really like the idea of wind-up power if I really need to, but having to this on a regular basis would be a pain. Whereas a solar recharger works for how ever long you have sunlight and you can recharge multiple devices and run more substantial devices like a food cooler/fridge.

  • Michael Hassan

    This seems to me like a great idea,5 hours is alot better than 2.5 or 3 you usualy get on a laptop battery,this will be a huge breakthrough for laptop technology