Thursday , 24 July 2014

Power Plan Assistant: Manage your laptop’s power plans the smart way

Windows 7 and 8 operating systems offer various power plans for laptops, with various settings and even the possibility of creating custom ones. Even so, a free application called Power Plan Assistant, brings a nifty set of extra features that offer a more effective power plan management, than using only the Windows built-in options.

Power Plan AssistantInstallation & Requirements

The standard installation of this donationware application is expeditious and straightforward. During the setup a third-party application will also be offered, although users can decline it. Concerning supported operating systems, Power Plan Assistant runs on Windows 7 and 8 (including on Boot Camp-enabled Apple Macbook Pro and Air notebooks).

For Macbooks, Power Plan Assistant aims to improve some of Boot Camp’s shortcomings such as the inability of completely disabling keyboard backlight in Windows and also includes a handy on/off switch for wireless adapters. However, in this review we are analyzing Power Plan Assistant on a Windows 7 enabled laptop.

Interface

Unlike most applications, Power Plan Assistant doesn’t have an interface. Instead it offers all of its features and settings in menus. The first thing you should know is that the program aims to improve the usefulness provided by the built-in Windows power plans and their related options. So if you haven’t done so before installing Power Plan assistant, now is the time to configure them to suit your needs.

The default system Power icon lets you quickly switch between two power plans. Power Plan Assistant runs under its own system tray icon and through its left-click menu, users can access all the power plans and switch between any of them. The same menu offers Windows shut down options the possibility to activate the screensaver or power off the display.

Configuring Power Plan Assistant is done via its right-click menu. Here, users can quickly access the Power Options in the Control Panel, register their copy of the program, view version information, access help documentation and exit the program, but more importantly they can open the Power Plan Assistant Settings.

Customizing Power Plan Assistant is basically a matter of going through all of its settings and see which ones are useful for you. Firstly, the application can be set to start automatically at system boot (enabled by default). You can set an action when you place a pointer in the top left corner of the screen: power off display or toggle “Flip 3D”. Users can choose from another set of actions – put computer to sleep, power off the display or activate the screensaver – when double-clicking on the program’s system tray icon. Additionally, the menu includes the option of locking the computer when powering off the display.

The next options relate to customizing the “left click” actions menu – show Presentation Mode/power plans. Presentation Mode (as explained in the tooltip) will keep your computer on, no matter which power plan you have selected. Users can switch between two skins for the menus, which is nice, although the difference between them is not very significant. Should an automated power plan switch occur, there is an option to receive balloon tip notifications.

Speaking of, now we get to those automated power plan switch options. The program provides an option for automatically switching to Power Saver if the battery is at less than – any capacity between 60% and 20%. Users can also choose to switch automatically to a different power plan on plugging in and/or unplugging. Even more, advanced users can set an application or a batch file to run, whenever a switch is made to a certain power plan.

Pros

- Lightweight application.
- Runs unobtrusively in the system tray.
- The tray icon’s “left-click” actions menu lets users quickly switch between any two power plans and access Windows shut down options.
- The right-click menu offers a wide array of settings, such as enabling actions on clicking certain areas of the screen.
- Automated options for power plan switching can be set on unplugging, plugging in and depending on battery level.

Cons

- Non-technical users might feel more comfortable with a traditional interface instead of menus.

Conclusion

Power Plan Assistant doesn’t try to rival with the built-in Windows power plan management options. Instead it complements them, adding more functionality, and allowing users to take advantage of power plans like never before.

About Alexandra Vasiliu

The list of things we can accomplish through applications or a few simple system settings is virtually endless. Between finding the latest trends in software, excitedly testing new programs and tinkering with their settings, I am glad to share any piece of useful information.
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