Creativity Base

Smartphones: Where to buy high capacity, heavy duty replacement batteries for Android handsets

by on May.30, 2011, under Great Finds, Tips & Advice

One of the most disappointing aspects of the Android smartphone device explosion is the lingering impotency of battery performance. Sure, users of Android devices can all extend battery life by running power management applications like JuiceDefender and by cultivating conservative usage habits, but what we really need here is a rapid improvement in the performance of batteries. Battery R&D was clearly left behind while the manufacturers were all trying to out-do each other over screen, processor and camera performance.

Fortunately, while the pleas from the early adopters to the device manufacturers to address this debilitating problem appear to have fallen on deaf ears, other smaller manufacturers have taken notice. In fact, a surprising number of 3rd party battery manufacturers have now stepped up to bat, offering replacement batteries offering everything from slight to massive performance improvements. For current owners of Android smartphones the challenge now lies in answering the questions “What are my options for replacement batteries and where can I buy them?”

Having dedicated some time to this matter myself and successfully upgraded batteries on three different Android smartphones (a Samsung Galaxy S, an HTC Desire HD and a Motorola Milestone XT720) I decided to compile a list of popular devices, sorted alphabetically, with links to sellers of the highest capacity replacement batteries available. Many of these are super heavy-duty upgrades, leading to up to three times the runtime between charges (when compared to original stock batteries). These batteries tend to be over-sized, and ship with replacement back-plates for the phone. You can see what I mean with the Samsung Galaxy S example in the video below.


 

As for the table, while it is not a comprehensive list, I would love some encouragement and assistance to help it grow. If you have any requests for information on alternative batteries for specific devices or you’d like to share your experiences or add information to this chart, please leave a detailed comment at the end of this article.

Brand Model Stock Battery Capacity Maximum Battery Capacity Purchase from
         
Google Google Nexus One 1500mAh 3000mAh (with cover) DinoDirect.com
         
HTC HTC Bravo 1400mAh 3000mAh (with cover) DinoDirect.com
  HTC Desire A8181 1400mAh 3000mAh (with cover) DinoDirect.com
  HTC Desire 1400mAh 3000mAh (with cover) DinoDirect.com
  HTC Desire HD 1230mAh 1800mAh obostore.com
  HTC Droid Eris 1300mAh 1500mAh DinoDirect.com
  HTC Hero 1350mAh 3200mAh (with cover) Mugen Power
  HTC Incredible 1450mAh 1500mAh DinoDirect.com
  HTC Legend 1300mAh 1800mAh Mugen Power
  HTC Thunderbolt 1400mAh 1500mAh DinoDirect.com
  HTC Wildfire 1300mAh 1800mAh Mugen Power
         
LG LG Optimus 2X 1500mAh 4500mAh (with cover) Mugen Power
         
Motorola Motorola Milestone 1400mAh 2000mAh DinoDirect.com
  Motorola Milestone XT720 1400mAh 2000mAh DinoDirect.com
         
Samsung Samsung Fascinate 1500mAh 3500mAh (with cover) DinoDirect.com
  Samsung Galaxy S 1500mAh 3500mAh (with cover) DinoDirect.com
  Samsung Vibrant 1500mAh 3500mAh (with cover) DinoDirect.com
         
Sony Ericsson Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 1500mAh 2600mAh (white cover) Amazon.com
  Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 1500mAh 2600mAh (black cover) Amazon.com

Dan Monceaux

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Smartphones: Finding high capacity replacement batteries for Android devices

by on May.19, 2011, under Great Finds, Tips & Advice

When we switched on our first Android smartphones in 2010, we were thrilled with the possibilities of at last having a powerful pocket computer and cellphone in one convenient package. Since then, we’ve been impressed by Google’s operating system upgrades and the rapid growth of applications on offer in the Android market. One bedbug that just keeps on biting however is the need to keep chargers in the car, home and office. With a stock battery and moderate use, not a day goes by when my smartphone doesn’t cry out for a recharge.

There are two ways to manage this problem. The first involves changing your behaviour, and that of your operating system and applications. The more functions you run on the device (wifi, bluetooth, gps etc) and the more applications you have running simultaneously, the faster your battery will discharge. Keeping a power widget on your desktop is a good start, and making sure you only turn on a phone feature when you need it (and turn it off again afterwards). Similarly, killing background applications is good practice, and there are a number of apps in the Android market which can make this easy.

Another cost-effective strategy to reducing charger-dependency is to seek out a high capacity replacement battery to suit your handset. We have done this recently with two handsets: Samsung’s Galaxy S and Motorola’s Milestone XT720. In most cases, you won’t find high capacity or heavy duty batteries offered by the manufacturers of the devices themselves. Instead, a number of third party manufacturers have identified the opportunity to answer consumers cries, albeit with varying success.

Our grand success story is that of our Samsung Galaxy S replacement battery upgrade. After searching for the battery offering the highest available capacity, we ordered this 3500 mAh battery from DinoDirect.com . The stock Samsung battery (which ships with the handset) holds a meager 1500 mAh, so we were expecting at least twice as much runtime from the changeover. Put to work immediately, the substitute battery now only requires charging every three days on average, when previously charging was a daily imperative. You can see a video of the battery and its installation below.


Purchase this battery now from DinoDirect.com

A less successful upgrade was that of my Motorola Milestone XT720. I swapped out the stock 1390 mAh battery with a 2000 mAh Deji Business Battery. I could not find any information or reviews about the battery and its effectiveness when used in combination with my phone. Evidently, the battery works well with the Motorola Droid A855 for which it was principally designed. Unfortunately, despite providing improved runtime in my XT720, the Froyo 2.2 battery meter was not able to measure the battery’s charge accurately, leading to some very frustrating behaviours. You can find out more in the video below.


Purchase this battery now from DinoDirect.com

It is clear that battery life was low on the priority list for first wave Android cellphone designers and manufacturers. Compared to processor speeds, screen size and quality and overall form factor, battery life didn’t get a look in! Inevitably, as these devices are gradually refined, battery technology, software streamlining and devices’ power economy will all improve. Sadly for now, Android users will have to keep chargers at the ready, fiddle with power management applications and turn to replacement batteries for a stop-gap solution.

Dan Monceaux

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Lighting: Where to find cheap Tungsten photo flood lights, replacement bulbs and fuses

by on May.10, 2011, under Ethics & Sustainability, Great Finds, Tips & Advice

When starting out with photography or video production, it pays to be resourceful- especially when assembling your first lighting kit. Balancing interests in still photography, filmmaking and later videography I first turned to the secondhand market to purchase my constant, continuous tungsten studio lighting. A combination of eBay, camera fairs and garage sales delivered and I became the proud owner of several tungsten photo flood lights with brightnesses ranging from 450 watts to 1000 (otherwise known as 1k). The thing to understand about these lights is that they are mechanically every simple devices. Its worth considering buying one even if it’s declared ‘not working’. More than likely its only fault is a burned out bulb, or missing or burned out fuse.

Unomat LX6000 1000W Tungsten Photo Flood Light (with cooling fan)

Be mindful of old photofloods without cooling fans

Tungsten lights feature a burning filament inside a glass tube, similar to a traditional incandescent ‘Edison’ light bulb. As they step up in their intensity and power consumption (wattage), so increases the amount of heat they generate. Older lights (1980’s and earlier) often stimpulate ‘duty cycles’ offering recommendations of how long you should operate the light, before switching it off to allow it to cool. Some of these lights had very crude cooling mechanisms, without fans or obvious heat syncs, and were designed during the heyday of Super8 filmmaking- a time when a single roll of film could only record two and a half minutes of footage at 24 frames per second. I found these lights to be generally more trouble than they are worth, though using them in combination with a modern dimmer is a good way to give these old fellas a new lease on life.

Bausch VLG 1000W Tungsten Photo Flood Light (with cooling fan)

Cooling fans are best seen and not heard

Ignoring the duty cycle on such lights can lead to plastic in the light’s housing melting and distorting, and can create potential hazards for the operator, who can risk burns or electric shock as the heat takes over. Fortunately, German manufacturers Unomat and Bausch (and others) produced economical tungsten lights up to 1000W complete with quiet-running fans (thus eliminating the annoying duty cycles of the older, cheaper lights). These are the best ‘bang for buck’ option when buying your first tungsten lights. When considering a purchase, ask the seller if the light’s cooling fan squeaks- replacing the fan bearings is not an easy task, and if you’re planning on using this on a film or video shoot, a squeaky fan can ruin your sound recording.

Finding replacement parts for your photo-flood

When it comes to the maintenance of your photographic or video light, there are two spare parts you will need to keep handy: bulbs and fuses. You will be pleased to know that at the time of writing this post, bulbs are still available for both styles of 1K lights pictured here. If your light dies, and a fresh replacement bulb doesn’t illuminate your situation, you’ll likely need to replace the fuse.

Bausch VLG 1000W Tungsten Photo Flood Light (rear view)

If your light still has its information sticker attached, chances are it will tell you the Ampage of the fuse you require. In my case, both pictured lights required 6.3A fuses, and the existing burned-out fuses had this etched onto their metal caps. Another helpful detail which may be present on the sticker is the fuse’s DIN number. DIN stands for ‘Deutsches Institut für Normung (German Institute for Standardization)’ and if searched on Google your number should set you on your way to finding the right fuse for your light. The DIN for the fuse fitting my fan-cooled Unomat LX6000 and my Bausch VLG1000 is DIN 41660. The required DIN number for your fuse will vary depending on the style, age and wattage of the light you own.

Bausch VLG 1000W Information Sticker

Good news, fuses are plentiful and cheap

The fantastic news is that these fuses are still readily available and are very affordable. I bought three today from my local electrical repair store in Adelaide, South Australia: Statewide Appliance Spares. Three of them cost me a little over AUD$11, and the store had them in stock, ready to go. Bulbs for 1K tungsten lights in Australia cost between $20-30, and Osram bulbs tend to be quite readily available. I buy mine from Adelaide’s specialty lighting store, P.J White & Co. It is a good idea to purchase your bulbs locally whenever possible, as they are fragile items and need to be handled with care.

An environmental footnote

On an environmental note, it’s true… Tungsten lighting does burn a lot of power. The good news is that tungsten lighting is rapidly being replaced by LED lighting which generates very little heat, and is far more energy efficient in producing its brightness. There is no doubt in my mind that LED and similar technologies will replace the need for tungsten light in the near future, but for the time being, saving one of these well-crafted lights from landfill and putting it to work with a new bulb or fuse still serves an immediate environmental benefit- and is a good economical option for low budget creativity. While the three R’s of waste management typically include Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, I’m a firm believer in the 4th ‘R’… repair.

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