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I am wondering how long this non-removable battery fiasco is gonna last, instead of an expensive recall it would been a simple battery recall and swap that doesn't involve leaving the laptop in service for any amount of time and doable on short notice so the travelers would not be inconvenienced.

On top of that, when non-removable batteries fail, they usually take down the whole device with them beyond repair, while a properly placed removable battery at the edge (back) of the device would less likely do damage the device.




Indefinitely, because most people do not consider it a "fiasco." Have you seen what the batteries look like for, say, the new 13" Macbook Pro or the 12" Macbook? They're not bricks you could just feed into a slot. They're multi-part systems that distribute the battery through the gaps in the case. Fixing them in place means they don't need extra casing support, don't need to be near a specific edge and are flexible enough to maximize space usage inside the case.

Yes, all those issues could be addressed by making Apple laptops thicker and heavier, and there's a large contingent on HN that wants exactly that. But ... there's an even larger contingent outside the techi-verse that loves thin and light laptops.


> Yes, all those issues could be addressed by making Apple laptops thicker and heavier

Dell XPS 13 is both, thinner and lighter than Macbook Air, yet its battery replacement process is rated as "very easy"[1] by ifixit. The same applies to Dell XPS 15 vs Macbook Pro.

[1] https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Dell+XPS+13+Battery+Replacement...


Looks like the Dell XPS 13 uses a single rectangular battery, though it still requires unscrewing the whole case, disconnecting a battery cable, and then unscrewing the battery, so it's not something you can do on the fly.

The 2018 MacBook Air battery isn't quite so neat and rectangular: https://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/igi/HvCgVPqVQtVI5K5X.h...

And you can see here how it fits into all of the available space in the computer: https://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/igi/QUm4KjJyARQaSorr.h...

Switching this computer to using a simple battery like the Dell XPS 13 is using means sacrificing a significant amount of battery capacity.


It's also worth nothing that the XPS has a 52Whr battery and the 2018 Air had a 50.3Whr battery. Although you probably get worse battery life with the XPS (config dependent maybe), you've stil got to hand it to Dell here.


In fact, Dell XPS 13 is twice as powerful as Macbook Air, but lasts only a little shorter on battery[1].

[1] https://www.cnet.com/news/apple-macbook-air-vs-dell-xps-13-i...


It's 20% shorter with the i7 + 4K XPS they've used for their comparisons, that's a fair amount. You can presumably get that back with the i5 model, but then you're not twice as powerful. Makes me want to get the latest XPS even though my 2015 model is still going strong.

Also note the 2019 Air they've got has a smaller battery again (49.9Whr).


> It's 20% shorter with the i7 + 4K XPS they've used for their comparisons, that's a fair amount.

The battery life gains in Macbook Air might come from the different series of processors used, rather than from the battery itself:

> The MacBook Air has Core i5 and i7 processor options, but they're part of Intel's "Y" series of CPUs, intended for thin laptops. They generate less heat and use less power, so you get longer battery life. The flip side is they're not as fast as a standard laptop with a "U" series processor.


Sure, it's certainly mostly due to the Y-series CPU. I'm just pointing out that difference in the 2019 model compared to the 2018 model that was mentioned in the parent comments.


If you were to compare it to the new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 which uses a 10th gen Intel chip and is marketed to have 17 hours of battery life, I think it'd be more than twice as powerful and that one would last just as long if not longer. But again, that might be an apples to oranges comparison with the different chip generations. But Apple always is a bit behind on adopting those new chips.


Oh wow, that now that sounds like an upgrade. Sadly it doesn't seem to be available in the UK quite yet.


Dell has some really good hardware design. I've been using the business-class Latitudes for years now (getting them a few years old off-lease; they're usually pretty lightly used in corporate settings), and they're extremely easy to work on. The old E4600/4610 models were really nice: they had a single captive screw on the back panel. Just loosen it and slide the panel off.

Just looking at the ifixit.com page linked above, the XPS looks very well-designed and easy to work on too, with just 8 screws holding the back panel on, while still being just as thin as a Macbook. It seems like Apple stuff is simply designed specifically to be hard to repair.


I admit I'm really confused as to why this particular comment is being downvoted.


I own an xps 15. It gets mega hot and can't run anything without having to slow down performance because it is too hot. Whatever the optimal battery solution is XPS15 is not doing a good job of it.


I think the upcoming 16 inch MacBook will be a little thicker than before, and with one of the the older keyboards. They are maybe modifying their vision a tiny bit since their design lead left


I agree that having a battery which can be changed without opening the laptop case might require to make the laptop much thicker. However, Apple could do a lot to make battery service easier, so that anyone who has the correct screwdrivers can do it in 5 minutes. This would also cause more batteries to be exchanged for old age and thus further reduce the risk of fires.

And, as this recall was about the MacBook pro, there is much more space for battery placement than in the smaller devices.


Yes I've seen them and it's driven by the misguided quest for the thinnest, form over function devices while refusing to accept that battery technology is not yet up to the task. Particularly when you consider the volatile Lithium based tech which is sensitive to heat, let's put them in enclosed cases where lots of heat is generated, make them non removable, what could go wrong.

Here I just put something rough together to demonstrate that it can be done even with the thin devices if the motivations were in the right place: https://www.ypson.com/hn/battery-thin-device.png

Took me a few minutes, surely this can be done given the budgets and great engineers available in the employ of the major companies.


Except, as already noted, batteries in current Macbooks are not one rectangular slab like that.

Take a look at the inside of the current Macbook Pro: https://i.imgur.com/pTZjbuZ.jpg

That's a "battery" that's actually six separate batteries, fit around and underneath the structural components of the touchpad.

Make it a single piece that can be neatly removed like your would-be concept image and you cut battery life in half. Customers would revolt, and far more noticeably than over mere keyboard problems.


In addition to the shape, which itself would need to be compromised by a removable battery, there is the issue of the casing.

Any battery requires a certain amount of puncture resistance. When a battery is embedded into a device and irremovable, the casing of the device itself counts as part of that puncture resistance. If the battery is removable, the battery module itself must be puncture resistant and you're wasting significant internal volume with hard casing around the removable battery module which does not need to exist.


Look at smartphone batteries --- even when they were easily replaceable, they weren't very puncture-resistant, being nothing more than a bare pouch cell with a wrapper label.


Just a matter of engineering which we are well capable of solving, as long as batteries are clearly labeled as consumable items [1] they should be user replaceable which given the limitations of current battery technology, would also reduce the friction, inconveniences and dangers presented in this particular case.

Personally, I am not against thin devices and non removable batteries, it should be done in tandem as the technology will be aligned with this approach without compromising the user experience and ability to replace consumable components.

[1] https://www.apple.com/support/macbookair/en/battery_body.htm...


> Make it a single piece that can be neatly removed like your would-be concept image and you cut battery life in half. Customers would revolt, and far more noticeably than over mere keyboard problems.

According to other comments further up the thread this is incorrect, as the XPS has proven it can be both a single battery, with more capacity, and be thinner, even faster.


Besides that one pesky ribbon cable that could probably be rerouted under the battery pack easily, I see nothing else that prevents a removable battery containing multiple cells, which need not be rectangular overall.


More than one way to skin a cat though. Make the lid, keyboard, and electronics removable and treat the battery as part of the case?


The macbook is not a desktop replacement; it's a very portable laptop. Being as small as possible is a big part of it's function. You pay a lot extra for this, both in terms of actual money, reduced computing power, and probably decreased longevity.

(Interestingly, this used to be the norm. Back in the day, the smallest thinkpads were also the most expensive. If you cared about money, you'd carry around something much larger and clunkier. It wasn't until the advent of the netbook that "small" also meant "cheap")

If you don't think a laptop being as small and thin as possible is important and worth paying for, then you will be very disappointed with the current crop of macbooks.

(As an aside, I find it kinda weird to see people with these macbooks that are absolutely optimized for portability using them as desktop replacements. Like... maybe part of that was that for a long time apple sold really ancient hardware for their desktops, and maybe these people just really loved OS-X? But... this goes to your point... the fact that so many people use macbooks as desktop replacements does indicate that maybe there's a market for a more desktop-y macbook, maybe one with active cooling and a replaceable battery? But it's also possible that those users are willing to pay a cost in terms of longevity and in terms of expandability in exchange for their desktop replacement simply being more portable for the few times they do actually move it.)

Either way, I like my macbook even though I'd be seriously annoyed if I was limited to that much compute power for my main usage, and I'd go insane if I had to use the keyboard/trackpad for serious work.

But for me? I think the cost is totally reasonable for something I can put in almost any of my bags; something that adds almost no perceptible weight. I had a sony viao P series for a while; it was similar.

I mean, my other personal laptop is a thinkpad X220, which is exactly the sort of thing you would like; it's pretty easy to swap out all the parts, including the battery. It is actively cooled (and aside from the battery and hard drive, the fan seems to be one of the common bits to break.) - it's also not powerful enough for comfortable full-time use, imo, but it stands up well to the mac book in that regard, and it has a keyboard that is almost good enough to use all day. (I mean, I'm not switching it out for my kinesis for serious work, but as far as laptop keyboards go, it's pretty good)


> Here I just put something rough together to demonstrate that it can be done even with the thin devices if the motivations were in the right place: https://www.ypson.com/hn/battery-thin-device.png Took me a few minutes, surely this can be done given the budgets and great engineers available in the employ of the major companies.

All you’ve done is drawn a few rectangles and added some labels to them. It doesn’t prove anything is possible. It’s not even detailed enough to be concept art let alone a technical design. You could just have easily drawn the same thing with circles and labelled it “worlds first fusion powered laptop” for all the technical merit that diagram had.


Techverse also wants it. There's just a loud minority that want a desktop they can fit into a backpack.


I think you're completely forgetting why they build them like this: It makes for a better laptop. The non-removable macbook can have a much larger battery due to not needing a case and entire user accessible portion of the machine.

If Apple built this machine like how you are saying it would get half the battery life (keep in mind that this is a max performance model with battery life as low as 3 hours when used at max off charger) or would be much heavier and thicker and people. would. not. buy. it. It's a compromise whereas you make the repair (which hopefully should never happen) harder while making the daily use of the laptop entirely different.


Not sure making your mobile product bigger and heavier, just to cover the rare case that your batteries blow up, represents good engineering priorities.

Instead of putting in the effort to engineer removable batteries, maybe Apple could instead put in the effort to engineer batteries that don’t blow up.


Sure that is the way, for the meantime the technology in use comes with the risk of blowing up and it would be sensible to take that into consideration during engineering, among other things such as the inconveniences. Accepting the reality that the battery tech is lagging is far more desirable from an engineering point of view and work with that.

If I am away from home and on the way back, upon checking in at the airport I am told I cannot bring the laptop, how would you supposed I would handle the situation? Throw it in a trash bin (I don't mind the encrypted data) but is this a solution, instead of simply discarding the battery instead? (in this particular case where there is a recall for a certain laptop).


My MacBook Pro 15" Retina has a 99,5 watt-hour battery. The biggest removable battery on a MacBook Pro was the 71 watt-hour one on the 17" non-unibody one. I like a bit of extra battery power.




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