"Dwight Silverman, the tech reviewer at the Houston Chronicle, has written about the impact that the Aero theme has on battery life and performance (under the provocative title "Vista, Aero, battery life . . . and Doom" — he’s referring to the game Doom3, BTW). It’s a good post and I’d like to take a minute to expand on what Dwight has written.
First off, yes, as Dwight correctly points out, the Aero theme drives the GPU harder and therefore uses more power. But in the big picture, it’s really not that much more. For example, the display on most laptops will consume somewhere between 15-25% of your "power budget" when you are running on battery. Nevertheless, in our testing we’ve seen that turning on Aero consumes only about 1-4% more of battery life. In terms of making your battery last longer, turning off Aero will not go very far while at the same time costing you some of the cool features that make Windows Vista fun to use, such as Flip 3D, taskbar previews, window transparency and so on."
Read the entire article here
"Not pleasing, this thing eats battery power like its going out of style. I recently downloaded a Vista Battery Gadget and its hard not to notice how quickly the percentage goes down. There are a combination of things that are causing battery life to be so horrible, this includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, I try to turn them off when they are not needed. But it doesn’t make any significant improvement, so the likely other suspect’s has to be the graphics and processor in the system. The AMD Turion X2 64-Bit 2.0 GHz processor runs very hot and some of that energy also eats battery power, so I have to be honest and say, it’s definitely not an energy efficient system and takes away from most of its mobility capabilities. I have seen better battery life on my brother’s Dell 640m with Intel Core Duo processors. Somehow this has brought me to the conclusion that the AMD Turion itself is not a definite mobile processor, but more likely one based on AMD’s desktop product forced into a laptop system."
So, there are a lot of factors that contribute to whether a laptop has good battery life or not. The complexities and numerous components left to the system to manage will ultimately take a toll on how long you are able to use the system. The best recommendation is to simply turn off features not needed, especially Bluetooth. Also, alternating is very important, plugging when you are near a socket to recharge your system if possible.