Using Lenovo Power Manager With Non Genuine Battery… May 9th, 2010
I’m now on my third battery with my Lenovo T61p, my only criticism with what is otherwise an absolutely fantastic machine. The first two batteries were both genuine, the most recent a much cheaper, generic sourced one. The first battery that came with the system was a fairly typical 6 cell offering, nothing unusual there and it lasted for around 1 year; ironic really, it always seems with laptop batteries that they suddenly decide to loose their charge after the one year warranty has expired. I wasn’t too upset about this actually, mainly because I had always regretted not getting the 9 cell with my machine so it was an ideal opportunity to upgrade and secondly, being mainly office based where my machine sat in a docking station all day being charged to 100% I wasn’t too surprised it had come to an untimely end.
Now normally, I like to run my systems very ‘Zen’, ditching all of the manufacturer bloatware that comes pre-installed these days, but I decided when I bought the 9 cell battery to install the Lenovo Power Manager software, by now in version 3. For those who are not aware of what this does, it enhances the ability to control and monitor all aspects of the machines power usage; this is especially so of the battery and the way its charging cycles are handled. One of the features that I was most interested in was the ability to dynamically change the charging thresholds of the battery and thus improving its longevity. In essence, this works by changing not only the threshold at which the system allows the battery to be charged, but also the level at which the charge stops; so for example the system may determine to stop charging the battery when it reached 96% charge. The idea of course, is that this is better for the batteries health and it ‘should’ last longer.
All was well, I had this and other settings customised just how I like them when I was greeted with a warning to tell me that my lovely battery had a fault and could no longer be used; the fault was terminal. Most annoying was that the battery was still holding more charge than a 6 cell, even though it had well over 100 charging cycles, the battery should have been good for some time yet! Frustrated with the cost of genuine batteries from Lenovo, I started to look at other options and did some research on generic batteries. Finally, I decided that for a cost of £35 including delivery for a brand new 9 cell battery, it was wroth taking a punt and duly placed an order. Herein lies the problem.
Lenovo have cunningly engineered into the software a warning which keeps popping up to tell you that you are not using a genuine battery along with the usual warning about the effect this may have on your warranty and a rather scary disclaimer which in not so many words, tells you that you may spontaneously combust if you do not throw the battery in the bin straight away and buy one directly from them. Ironically, when you click OK for what seems like the hundredth time and acknowledge the warnings to enter the software, the battery information shows amongst other things that the part number is ‘COMPATIBLE‘ and the manufacturer is ‘SANYO‘; but hang on a minute, don’t Sanyo make the genuine batteries for Lenovo anyhow? It seems to me that Lenovo are just abusing the software to boost their after sales, something which I will not be tricked into and something which I think is unfair given the rubbish quality of a lot of their own batteries (namely the Sanyo ones it would seem, I wonder how long this one will last). I’m sorry Mr Lenovo but your ruse will not be working on me.
So that left me with the problem, just how do you go about continuing to use the otherwise excellent Power Manager software but without being nagged every 5 minutes to buy a new battery and fooled into thinking that you are about to blow up?
Turns out that the solution is actually painfully simple. After doing some research on Google I first started but doing some registry edits and denying certain services the authority to run, this should according to the research I came across work; not by fooling the software into thinking it was a genuine battery but by stopping it from being able to display the warning messages from being displayed. Sadly though, it didn’t work even after trying numerous different hacks.
It was then that I had a thought, they often say that it’s the most obvious solution that works. The Power Manager software itself comes essentially in two parts, firstly the system software and secondly, the extra toolbar which runs in the system tray that shows you a graphical representation of the charge you have left and, importantly, is where the warning messages are displayed so prevalently. So I wondered, if I simply right clicked and removed the Power Manager toolbar, would that allow the software to still run and do all of the behind the scenes stuff to keep my battery in good condition without the warning messages being displayed. It turns out that it does. By disabling the toolbar, you are still able to access all of the Power Manager features by right clicking the default Windows power icon in the system tray instead (or via the Control Panel), meaning that you are able to configure power options and battery options just as before. Of course you do loose the Lenovo power icon in the system tray but I was never a huge fan of that anyway and it did nothing that the Windows power icon doesn’t. The end result is that I am now using a non-genuine battery quite happily with Lenovo Power Manager but without all of the annoying warnings and attempts to sell you a new battery.
I hope someone finds this useful. Enjoy.