A word about battery conservation

By Michael Barber

If there’s one thing that can cause consternation among those of us who use Braille note-takers, it’s the fact that when we turn the unit off, the charge in the battery seems to diminish, and before we know it, the battery level is down to 10 percent or less. I’m speaking here specifically about the BrailleNote Apex. The BrailleNote Apex, which uses the Windows CE operating system, is in what I call the “always on” mode. In other words, even though you’ve turned it off, there is always some residual battery activity going on. How can you combat this problem? There are two ways. First of all, after turning off the unit, you could simply remove the battery. The unit would be completely off and your battery charge would remain the same, even if you have left it off for a week or more. You must remember to turn off the unit first. I do not advise doing this on a continual basis, as the latch which holds the battery in place will eventually wear out.

The second way around this problem is to initiate what’s called “Deep Sleep Mode.” To do this, you would, from the Main Menu, press U to select and open the Utilities Menu. Then, press M to select and open the Miscellaneous Options Menu. Now, use the space bar until you hear the BrailleNote Apex say, “Do you want to put your unit in deep sleep mode? Please save any open files prior to doing so. Once in deep sleep, the unit can be woken up by: pressing the reset button, connecting the unit to an electrical outlet, switching the unit’s power off and back on, or inserting a battery.” You simply press the letter Y and your unit is totally shut down. Once in deep sleep mode, your battery charge will not diminish.

We performed a test with two different BrailleNote Apex units to show the difference between leaving one in deep sleep mode and simply turning one off and leaving it alone for a couple of days. The first unit started out with a battery level of 74 percent.

This unit was placed in deep sleep mode and allowed to sit idle during the weekend. On Monday morning, we “woke up” the unit and the battery level was still 74 percent. We took another unit, which had a battery level of 100 percent. The unit was turned off and allowed to sit idle over the weekend. On Monday morning, its level had diminished to 70 percent.

So the conclusion here would be that if you want to conserve your battery when you know you won’t be near electrical power for a while, use deep sleep mode.

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