All-day battery life is just about a thing for general purpose laptops, though gaming longevity is typically measured in a mere few hours. So, this homebrew “laptop” with a claimed two years of battery life is seriously startling.
The work of computing enthusiast Andreas Eriksen, the device is known as the PotatoP. Eriksen says (opens in new tab) the word “potato” is often used to describe underpowered devices. The PotatoP is intentionally “underspecced” to ensure long battery life, while the “toP” suffix implies the devices laptop form factor. It all makes sense.
The current working prototype is based on the Sparkfun Artemis (opens in new tab) compute module outputting to a 4.4-inch Sharp Memory Display (opens in new tab) with a 320 by 240 monochrome resolution.
For the record, the compute module has a single ARM Cortex M4 core running at up to 96MHz and comes complete with a floating point unit, 384KB of RAM and 1MB of flash storage.
If the PotatoP could run Cyberpunk, we suspect the frame rate would be measured in frames per hour rather than seconds, even rendering at 320 by 240 in monochrome. But then Eriksen has slightly more modest computing demands:
“It needs to have a good keyboard and a decent programming environment – compatibility with existing software is not a priority, nor is powerful hardware – just the minimum required for a LISP environment. Writing a minimal editor, word processor, spreadsheet app or whatever else I want will be part of the fun!”
Powering it all is a 12,000 mAh PiJuice LiPo battery and a relatively small solar panel. Eriksen says the PiJuice pack is “way more battery than anyone would ever need for this.” To put that into context, smartphone batteries tend to pack around 3,000 to 4,000mAh.
Anyway, the net result is a claimed target of around two years of battery life. We’ll take Eriksen at his word as the prospect of testing that claim in the real world is, well, unappealing.
Eriksen says the 4.4-inch monochrome display is surprisingly readable, even if he does wish they made a bigger one. For the future, he plans to fit more solar panels, with the eventual intention that the device can be powered by ambient light and offer essentially infinite battery life.
All in all, it’s an intriguing insight into what can. be achieved using off-the-shelf components and a well-honed remit, as opposed to zillions of development dollars and countless technical breakthroughs.