(Update, Aug 2006: Info on the Apple notebook battery recall here. This entry is about an older issue.)
iBook batteries are being killed, and the culprit for many (1, 2, 3) seems to be the OS X 10.2.4 upgrade. My own iBook (8 months old this 30th) is a recent victim as well, and its unplugged lifespan has, in a matter of weeks, deteriorated: from three hours, to one hour, to thirty minutes, to five.
Since my refurbished unit is not covered by the standard Apple warranty I’ve had to try every trick in the book, but to no avail.
As far as I can tell from previous discussions, (my own technical knowledge is limited, but I know a few practical things about Li-Ion and NiMH batteries from my Globe days) the OS X 10.2.4 upgrade seems to have irretrievably affected something in the battery’s own power management unit, so that it reports a full charge when in truth it is still at dangerously low levels. The undetected deficiency catches up with the portable user with a sudden sleep/shutdown at what still seems like near-full battery capacity.
This X-Charge screenshot shows the sudden jump in the battery’s apparent capacity from just above 10%. I think it’s safe to assume that its true capacity is still stuck at around 10%, and it is just not increasing because the battery’s own firmware (?) now reports that it is fully charged.
From here, I’m unsure as to whether I should address the issue by purchasing a new battery. Perhaps it would be wiser to just wait till I can buy a mid-range Powerbook with Panther (hopefully with less buggy power management) later this year. For now, I’m stuck with a small, white, portable desktop machine — which, in truth, is still more than I could ask for.