Steve Holl

By Jennifer L. Kronstain In 1993, a group of journalists boarded a plane in New York, bound for the West Coast. The journalists were handed laptop computers powered by lithium ion batteries and once they were in the air, they switched them on. The flight was predictable--between five and six hours in the air, smooth. What was not so predictable at the time was the batteries' performance. The computers ran easily from New York to San Francisco, with power to spare upon the plane's arrival--something many business travelers today take for granted. Before 1993, joked Maxell Product Manager Steve Holl, it's likely the battery would have died

Cell phones, digital cameras, laptops and palmtops, photoflash units and the other power-hungry battery eaters out there aren't going to settle for the same old power sources. Battery and hardware makers are working more closely in product development to make sure they get the right fit. Carrying through to marketing, battery manufacturers are designing their packaging to inform consumers which batteries they should buy for the hardware they have. "The battery is a strategic component," says Sanyo Energy Vice President and General Manager Joseph Carcone. "Almost every wireless device now advertises how big it is, how heavy it is, and how long it runs." Sanyo Energy's

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