Now that Blu-Ray has won the format war against HD-DVD; laptop manufacturers are scrambling to integrate Blu-Ray drives in their laptops. Laptops with Blu-Ray drives have significantly shorter battery life when viewing Blu-Ray content. Manufacturers should consider forcing the extended life battery options on any laptop equipped with a Blu-Ray drive.
Blu-Ray will become more affordable as time goes along and Dell is close to introducing a $1,000 “budget” laptop with a Blu-ray drive. Most manufacturers have avoided providing details about battery life in “Blu-Ray use” only terms.
Research analyst, Dean McCarron, told Wired that “The laser that runs the show [in Blu-ray players] is a very high-power laser.” The second part of the problem is decoding data was done in software only terms which uses up lots of CPU time and hence, battery life is decreased.
A solution was found by offloading some of the decoding onto the graphics hardware. In general, when a Blu-Ray disc was played, battery life could be reduced by up to 50%. Dell is close to introducing a laptop that claims up to 4.5 hours of continuous Blu-Ray playback. Such a laptop would last a very long time under everyday use.
I’m not convinced that laptops with integrated graphics will be up to the task of offloading decoding to the graphics chip. If ever there was a time to force extended life batteries and dedicated graphics as part of the laptop purchase; the time is now for Blu-Ray equipped models.