IBM Japan unveiled a new ThinkPad notebook computer that can automatically shift its power source from an AC adapter to a stored battery, the company announced on Tuesday.
The ThinkPad R31 includes a peak-shift-control program that allows electricity to be used evenly throughout peak and off-peak times. Usually when a PC is connected to an AC adapter, it always uses power from the adapter. With the ThinkPad R31, users can set a time for the computer to switch its power source to an internal battery, which has been recharged during off-peak hours, said Yuko Takeuchi, a spokeswoman for IBM Japan.
The Think Pad R31 is the first result of a project IBM Japan started last March with Kansai Electric Power (KEPCO), Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), Sanyo Electric and Matsushita Battery Industrial.
The purpose of the project was to decrease the volume of electricity used for PCs in offices at peak time, an IBM Japan statement said.
During the summer in Japan, many offices turn on air conditioners in the afternoon, causing dramatic increases in electricity consumption. Power companies have been looking for ways to avoid these peaks, according to the statement. Using stored battery power in the office during the day can ease electricity costs and protect the environment, the company said.
From July to September last year, IBM Japan, KEPCO, and TEPCO conducted a trial using the peak-shift-control program on their PCs. The trial showed that by charging the PC battery at night when demand is low and then using that stored power during the day, they were able to decrease carbon dioxide production by 4 to 16 per cent, according to the statement.
IBM Japan also calculated that if the 1200 notebook PCs in its Tokyo headquarters are equipped with the peak-shift-control program, it could save ¥20,000 ($US1511) a year, the statement said.
Sanyo Electric and Matsushita Battery have been researching the effects on a battery of being repeatedly discharged and recharged, and will keep working on a longer-lasting battery, the statement said. Currently, the ThinkPad R31 can be used for 2.3 hours by a recharged battery, and once the battery runs out it automatically starts recharging again, Takeuchi said.
Out of 12 ThinkPad R31 models unveiled, the C5J and 48J include the peak-shift-control program. Both include a Celeron 1.06GHz processor, 128MB of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) and a 20GB hard disk drive, and are equipped with an Ethernet interface. In Japan, the C5J with Windows XP operation system will be rolled out on February 15 at ¥179,000 ($US13,500), and the 48J with Windows 2000 will be rolled out on March 8 at the same price, the statement said.
The new R series models are already out in the US, Takeuchi said.
The company will distribute the software program to C5J and 48J customers for free, but it is only available in Japan, Takeuchi said.