Increased battery life on the Asus EEE: Mugen Power Battery

Mobile Device ReviewsDevin Balentina

Netbooks such as the Asus EEE PC and MSI wind’s strong points lie in their portable, low-cost and energy-efficient nature. But what’s portability if you can’t take advantage of it with puny batteries.

By equipping Netbooks with energy-efficient power modes, in some cases Solid-State hard drives, the now standard Intel Atom processor and ever growing battery capacities, Netbook makers like Asus have now been able claim the impressive ‘One day computing’ which they actually say is around 7-8 hours of battery life. While this is probably enough for most people, some folks just want more: with this ever growing demand for greater battery life and due to the lack of any OEM extended capacity batteries from the likes of Asus or MSI, third party manufactures like Mugen Power have started to fill this gap. Today we’ll have a quick look at Mugen Power’s Extended high-capacity 11200mAh battery for the ASUS EEE PC 900A, 900HD, 901, 904 and 1000 series line of Netbooks: the HLI-EEE1000XL.

With these Mugen Power batteries you are actually paying quite a premium when compared to your vanilla Ebay battery or other branded batteries, so my expectations were high when it came to the overall quality, fit and finish. The original 6 Cell battery on our test Asus EEE 1000H has a capacity of 6600mAh while Mugen Power has an extended capacity of almost twice at 11200mAh, which I expect should come down to almost twice the battery life. Other things that I looked for was a battery that raises and angles the Netbook at a comfortable typing angle and one that simply looks good. And lastly, does it make the Netbook too heavy and can the battery removed without completely closing the lid (without entering Sleep mode)? Let’s try to find an answer to these questions. The HLI-EEE1000XL

The HLI-EEE1000XL comes in two flavors the HLI-EEE1000XL/B and HLI-EEE1000XL/P, with the only difference being the color: the P model comes in Pearl White while the B model comes in black, both retailing for the same $179,95. At this price the HLI-EEE1000XL is a bit expensive, especially since vanilla batteries retail for under $100 while other branded batteries retail for under the $150 mark. Luckily, the first impressions you get from these batteries are that they are indeed of very high quality with a very nice fit and finish that closely resembles the one on our test unit. An even closer inspection reveals that the contacts exactly match the one on the original battery and the finish itself looks almost the same as the original, with silver flakes included. If you look at the paint job on the Asus EEE PC 1000H you’ll see that it has some silvery flakes in the paint. Mugen Power has gone the extra mile by closely matching this look, something that many manufacturers forget. In fact, the Muger Power looks like an original included Asus battery and not a third-party add-on accessory. With the battery in place, it blends in with the overall design of the EEE PC 100H due to its simplistic design and flowing lines. I’ve seen some pretty ugly extended batteries that stick out like a sore thumb.The Mugen Power’s extended power capabilities all come in a package not much bigger than the original, this is especially evident when you put the two batteries side by side.

Muger Power HLI-EEE1000XL uses Li-ION technology, for which they recommend to charge the battery in the device for at least 8 hours using the main adapter. After fully charged, they recommend using the device until the device battery is very low. When this happens you should repeat the process for 2-3 times, where after you can charge the battery whenever is right for you. They also do recommend not to completely draining the battery to 0%. Having talked with the Mugen Power guys, they indicated that this can make for as much as a 10-20% in battery capacity.

One thing missing on the Mugen Power battery though, is the Asus’ grooves that run across the length of the battery where it makes contact with the surface. By using these lines, scratches are not visible, but in the case of the Mugen Power batteries they used a rounded and smooth surface which will show scratches a lot easier. Over time you will start to see scratch lines where the battery makes contact with the surface you place the Netbook on. It is however, nothing but a small complaint because the black color does a fairly good job of hiding scratches and simply because most of us are not going to spend much time looking at bottom of our Netbooks where the battery sits. Mugen Power should consider adding rubber feet or the aforementioned grooves.

Usage

The added battery life is quite dramatic and on its own is a compelling enough reason to make this a must-have accessory for the Asus 1000 series of Netbooks. It completely changes how you use your Netbook, giving you enough battery life to go through an above average day’s worth of computing without ever needing to plug in your Netbook. I got an extra unit for a family member that indicated that her Asus EEE 1000H battery life, while impressive, still wasn’t enough for an entire day at the University. The Mugen Power has given her Netbook enough juice for an whole day of school, enough to leave the power adapter at home. Another benefit I found was that the raised height not only raises the Netbook to a comfortable height, perfect for typing, but also allows for better air flow below the Netbook. Some however, won’t like the slightly raised look and for this reason Mugen Power should consider looking extended batteries that don’t raise the Netbook. Obviously, this will come down to batteries that stick out even more. The added weight is a very subjective matter, but is fairly noticeable and can become an annoyance for some. It is again a fair sacrifice for the added battery life gained. Personally I found that it all depends on how you hold the netbook: by holding it with one hand at the front side, while supporting the battery with the other, the added weight become unnoticeable. The battery even makes for a pretty comfortable grip. When the lid is fully closed this become even more evident, again making for a very nice area to grab and hold the netbook. Holding the Netbook at the front using both hands, the unit feels dramatically heavier. One thing I did look for was a battery that I was able to remove while having the Netbook plugged in. This makes for easy battery swapping, something that’s not always possible with some of these extended batteries that require you to completely close the lid. Depending how you set your system, you can bring the system in Standby or Hibernation mode. I can report that I was able to easily remove the battery with the lid pushed have way through, making swapping batteries with the unit plugged in a breeze.

An important subject worth talking about is the so called ‘sudden shutdown syndrome.’ In these cases slight movements can cause the battery to loose contact with the Netbook, with a sudden shutdown as a result. The lower build quality of Netbooks helps to keep costs down, but has its implications when it comes to things like battery fittings. It seems that the build quality varies a lot from unit to unit on the cheaper netbooks, which results in some cases where a battery can fit a unit perfectly, while in others it sits loosely, even causing the ‘sudden shutdown syndrome.’ The Mugen Power guys explained that the extended batteries with their bigger size and weight, this issue becomes more evident and for this reasons it is critical to use the battery lock on the Asus EEE PC. In the beginning I was having inexplicable sudden shutdowns with the Mugen Power unit, that I didn’t occur with the original battery. Later on it became clear, that I bothered to use the battery lock with the original battery and due to its lower weight sudden shutdowns weren’t an issue. But doing the same with the larger HLI-EEE1000XL, caused the issue to arise. Luckily this was quickly resolved by simply using the battery lock. In fact, Asus does recommend to use this lock with the battery is in place.

Battery Life

Asus Super Hybrid Engine set to ‘Power-Saving’, WIFI On, Screen set to half-brightness. Vista Power Plan set to ‘Balanced”
*Asus 6600mAh: 4 Hours, 12 Minutes
*Mugen Power HLI-EEE1000XL 11200mAh battery: 7 Hours, 35 Minutes

Conclusion

The HLI-EEE1000XL comes in two flavors the HLI-EEE1000XL/B and HLI-EEE1000XL/P, with the only difference being the color: the P model comes in Pearl White while the B model comes in black, both retailing for the same $179,95. At this price the HLI-EEE1000XL is a bit expensive, especially since vanilla batteries retail for under $100 while other branded batteries retail for under the $150 mark.

Despite the high price tag, Mugen Power scores big on fit, finish and design. These batteries are indeed of very high quality with a very nice fit and finish that closely resembles the one on our test unit. An even closer inspection reveals that the contacts exactly matches the one on the orginal battery and the finish itself look almost the same as the orginal, with silver flakes included. Mugen Power has gone the extra mile by closely matching this look, something that many manufacturers forget. With the battery in place, it blends in with the overall design of the EEE PC 100H due to its simplistic design and flowing lines. The Mugen Power’s extended power capabilities all come in a package not much bigger than the original, this is especially evident when you put the two batteries side by side. The lack of any grooves or rubber feet does mean that over time the unit will show some scratches. The raised height not only raises the Netbook to a comfortable height, perfect for typing, but also allows for better air flow below the Netbook. The battery even makes for a pretty comfortable grib. Removing the Mugen Power battery without fully closing the lid is a breeze, perfect for battery swapping while plugged in. The weight is fairly noticeable and will be an issue for some, but fair sacrifice for the added battery life. A problem that occurs often due to build quality variations on Netbooks, is the so called ‘Sudden System Shutdown.’ This is not a problem with the HLI-EEE1000XL if you use the battery lock like Asus recommends.

As expected battery life is almost twice as much as the original, adding a breath of fresh air to any Netbook, allowing you use it longer without needing the power adapter. The added battery life is quite dramatic and on its own is a compelling enough reason to make this a must-have accessory for the Asus 1000 series of Netbooks. The HLI-EEE1000XL gets a 8 out of 10.

Pros
-Added battery life is dramatic
-Raises the Netbook to a comfortable typing height
-Allows for better airflow
-High quality fit and finish
-No Sudden Shutdown Syndrome with battery lock
-Fairly compact size
-Design matches Asus EEE PC

Cons
-Lacks rubber feet or grooves
-Scratches will develop over time
-Added weight might be an issue to some
-A bit pricey

Written by Devin

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