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Flash Can Rob 2 Hours From MacBook Air's Battery Life 509

The lack of Flash in the new MacBook Air may annoy some users, but it has a big upside, too. According to Wired's report (citing Ars Technica) passed on by an anonymous reader, "Having Flash installed can cut battery runtime considerably — as much as 33 percent in our testing. With a handful of websites loaded in Safari, Flash-based ads kept the CPU running far more than seemed necessary, and the best time I recorded with Flash installed was just 4 hours. After deleting Flash, however, the MacBook Air ran for 6:02 — with the exact same set of websites reloaded in Safari, and with static ads replacing the CPU-sucking Flash versions."
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Flash Can Rob 2 Hours From MacBook Air's Battery Life

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  • Kill Manually (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crf00 ( 1048098 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @08:16PM (#34131592) Homepage

    Every time I have used Flash on my Ubuntu, mostly for playing videos, I must manually use the `top` and `kill` command or Chrome's task manager to manually kill the npviewer.bin process. Flash always eats more than 50% of my CPU even long after I have closed all web pages using Flash, only killing it will bring my CPU back to idle and shuts off the noisy laptop fan. There is huge difference in power consumption between an idle CPU and running CPU, that's why for laptop it is best to keep the CPU idle most of the time to save power.

    Now having to kill the Flash process manually is not user friendly at all. I'd imagine that average joes can't do anything on it and have no idea that Flash is the one that causing their laptop fan spinning, heating up, and soaking battery powers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @08:23PM (#34131640)

    At least two HTML5 implementations are now indirectly threaded, so it won't stall a core like Flash does when you open 5 heavy tabs.

    Also the problem with Flash is its history of inefficiency for even simple operations. The problem here isn't the ads (that's another problem), the problem is their performance. WebGL is currently doing stuff Flash can't dream of, and that will only improve (unlike Flash).

    Bad JavaScript sucks nearly as hard as bad ActionScript, but at least we have tools to debug and selectively disable JavaScript, because JS is implemented by the browser and not some external runtime.

    There is no reason a browser can't implement actions to assist the user in this area, like to optionally shut down a JS script when it stalls the CPU for 5 seconds, or to disable selected animations by right-clicking on them. Will Adobe ever add assistance like the these examples? Fuck no they won't, they've had 10 years of complete inaction.

  • I use that setup (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arcite ( 661011 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @08:31PM (#34131694)
    Safari, adblock + click2flash, and I get 7 1/2 hours of run time on my Macbook pro with wifi. Pretty sweet ;)
  • Re:Kill Manually (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Un pobre guey ( 593801 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @08:43PM (#34131772) Homepage
    Yes! Flash on Linux sucks beyond belief! Beyond measure! Beyond any reasonable criterion of practicality! Sucks, sucks, SUCKS!

    Surely at least one Adobe geek is reading this. Please tell someone at Adobe, please! I know your development cycles are about 40 years long, but please, at least get it on the change request list! Please!
  • by whiteboy86 ( 1930018 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @09:12PM (#34131952)
    Ironically, this is not because of the Flash technology itself - as many here might believe, the Flash plug-in binary is incredibly well optimized and does many things so well that would otherwise require GPU-like acceleration. The problem here is that the Adobe editing software allows those non-tech educated "artist" (who create that graphics) to do such a mess with the resources, clogged rendering pipeline and a total misuse of every feature imaginable. They have absolutely no clue what is going on technologically underneath their creations and it shows.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @09:15PM (#34131970)

    why not avoid buying a toy computer...?

    i mean a machine that is designed for mindless idiots to consumer bilge and cannot playback video?

    btw try to play any hd vid and it will kill the battery on even the PRO models (i love that PRO designation lol)

    how Apple stay in business is beyond me - there must be some seriously stupid people out there x)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @09:30PM (#34132068)

    I wrote about this on my blog. Using my Watt's Up? meter I measured my computer's power usage at about 100W. But then I noticed that it was running at 160W for some reason. I eventually found the problem was flash player - and the only thing it was doing was a single ad on the travelocity web site. The ad was for - you guessed it - travelocity. And 15 years ago it would have been a 4 frame GIF because it simply flipped between 4 static images with no user interaction at all. Hooray Web 2.0

  • by Arker ( 91948 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @09:58PM (#34132238) Homepage

    I dont use Flashblock so tell me, how exactly does it break

    I do use NoScript, which does NOT break It simply improves the interface, allowing me to browse without a bunch of unwanted stuff starting inappropriately and grabbing control of my computer against my will. When I *want* to watch a video I temporarily whitelist it, the page reloads, and the video plays.

  • by DurendalMac ( 736637 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @09:58PM (#34132246)
    Wrong. Flash 10.1 on OS X now has hardware decoding on a number of video cards. I believe the 9400M, 9600GT, 320M, and 330M are supported.
  • Re:Not just the Air (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shermo ( 1284310 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @10:00PM (#34132254)

    While we're bashing iTunes, has anyone got a decent Windows alternative?

    I've tried: [] - Not updated since 2006, worked well on xp, crashes on vista + 7 [] - I use this on my laptop, but it's not windows compatible. [] - I currently use this, but it resets the repository occasionally, and I would be interested in other options.

  • Re:I use that setup (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vijayiyer ( 728590 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @10:46PM (#34132498)

    Ask yourself the flip question - at what point can you stop carrying your AC adapter (assuming you're not on a multi-day trip)? I've stopped carrying mine, which means I've stopped carrying the laptop bag and associated weight. Now a 3lb laptop really is 3lb, and you can use it more like a notebook.

  • Re:No ABP in OSX? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hylandr ( 813770 ) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @10:46PM (#34132500)
    So if it uses that much less power on laptops then PC's must experience the same reduction in power consumption. It sounds to me like banning flash altogether might help in reducing carbon emissions.

    This wasn't a troll, but I know I just stomped on an anthill...

    - Dan.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @12:28AM (#34132914)

    Your experience isn't shared very widely - try one browser on one platform. For the rest, Flash is more efficient than HTML5 for video.

    However, that's about to change. Adobe demoed a new video api at Max last week that showed 1080p video running on one of the new MacBook Air notebooks, using 8 to 10% cpu usage. That's WAY more efficient than what you've got right now for either Flash or HTML5.

  • No NOT WoW (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:55AM (#34134106) Journal

    These are FLASH ads, the kind of animation early computers operating at mhz were capable of. For god sakes, we are talking banners that flash 2 small images. How can this require 100% CPU power on what is by alrights a super-super-computer.

    Most of the time my computer busy running even such hogs as java and opera with tab icons 1 pixel in width barely reaches 4% cpu. But flash can bring the same machine to its knees.

    It is the same with PDF. I can play a game that renders an entire world with super high textures made by fans for Fallout at break neck speed. But open a PDF and each page takes seconds to render and when browsing you constantly have to wait... WTF is wrong with the code?

    Flash AND PDF either are the most horrible code ever written or they invite designers to make such horrendous choices that the most simple things take more computation then moddeling a nuclear explosion. ANd yes, nuclear explosions WERE modelled on machines far less powerful then your current desktop.

    Just having flash banners during web browsing eats 1/3 of the battery power and you think that is just fine. My god, how wipped can you get. Would you accept the radio in your car sucking 1/3 of the fuel to give you ads as well?

  • Re:news? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fahrvergnuugen ( 700293 ) on Friday November 05, 2010 @07:37AM (#34134242) Homepage
    Everyone knows that flash is CPU intensive. This is news because someone tested it and figured out you can save 33 frigging percent of your battery by disabling it. I would have never guessed that the power savings would be that high, and I'm sure many other's wouldn't have either.

Don't get suckered in by the comments -- they can be terribly misleading. Debug only code. -- Dave Storer