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Category: Battery life

Chrome OS support for CrXPRT apps ends in June 2022

Last March, we discussed the Chrome OS team’s original announcement that they would be phasing out support for Chrome Apps altogether in June 2021, and would shift their focus to Chrome extensions and Progressive Web Apps. The Chrome OS team eventually extended support for existing Chrome Apps through June 2022, but as of this week, we see no indication that they will further extend support for Chrome Apps published with general developer accounts. If the end-of-life schedule for Chrome Apps does not change in the next few months, both CrXPRT 2 and CrXPRT 2015 will stop working on new versions of Chrome OS at some point in June.

To maintain CrXPRT functionality past June, we would need to rebuild the app completely—either as a Progressive Web App or in some other form. For this reason, we want to reassess our approach to Chrome OS testing, and investigate which features and technologies to include in a new Chrome OS benchmark. Our current goal is to gather feedback and conduct exploratory research over the next few months, and begin developing an all-new Chrome OS benchmark for publication by the end of the year.

While we will discuss ideas for this new Chrome OS benchmark in future blog posts, we welcome ideas from CrXPRT users now. What features or workloads would you like the new benchmark to retain? Would you like us to remove any components from the existing benchmark? Does the battery life test in its current form suit your needs? If you have any thoughts about these questions or any other aspects of Chrome OS benchmarking, please let us know!

Justin

Why we don’t control screen brightness during CrXPRT 2 battery life tests

Recently, we had a discussion with a community member about why we no longer recommend specific screen brightness settings during CrXPRT 2 battery life tests. In the CrXPRT 2015 user manual, we recommended setting the test system’s screen brightness to 200 nits. Because the amount of power that a system directs to screen brightness can have a significant impact on battery life, we believed that pegging screen brightness to a common standard for all test systems would yield apple-to-apples comparisons.

After extensive experience with CrXPRT 2015 testing, we decided to not recommend a standard screen brightness with CrXPRT 2, for the following reasons:

  • A significant number of Chromebooks cannot produce a screen brightness of 200 nits. A few higher-end models can do so, but they are not representative of most Chromebooks. Some Chromebooks, especially those that many school districts and corporations purchase in bulk, cannot produce a brightness of even 100 nits.
  • Because of the point above, adjusting screen brightness would not represent real-life conditions for most Chromebooks, and the battery life results could mislead consumers who want to know the battery life they can expect with default out-of-box settings.
  • Most testers, and even some labs, do not have light meters, and the simple brightness percentages that the operating system reports produce different degrees of brightness on different systems. For testers without light meters, a standardized screen brightness recommendation could discourage them from running the test.
  • The brightness controls for some low-end Chromebooks lack the fine-tuning capability that is necessary to standardize brightness between systems. In those cases, an increase or decrease of one notch can swing brightness by 20 to 30 nits in either direction. This could also discourage testing by leading people to believe that they lack the capability to correctly run the test.

In situations where testers want to compare battery life using standardized screen brightness, we recommend using light meters to set the brightness levels as closely as possible. If the brightness levels between systems vary by more than few nits, and if the levels vary significantly from out-of-box settings, the publication of any resulting battery life results should include a full disclosure and explanation of test conditions.

For the majority of testers without light meters, running the CrXPRT 2 battery life test with default screen brightness settings on each system provides a reliable and accurate estimate of the type of real-world, out-of-box battery life consumers can expect.

If you have any questions or comments about the CrXPRT 2 battery life test, please feel free to contact us!

Justin

Looking back on 2021 with the XPRTs

As 2022 gets underway, we want to take this opportunity to look back on 2021 and review another productive year for the XPRTs. Readers of our newsletter are familiar with the stats and updates we include each month, but for our blog readers who don’t receive the newsletter, we’ve compiled some highlights below.

Benchmarks
In the past year, we released the WebXPRT 4 Preview, CloudXPRT v1.1, and an updated CrXPRT 2 build that included a fix for prior issues with the battery life test.

XPRTs in the media
Journalists, advertisers, and analysts referenced the XPRTs thousands of times in 2021. It’s always rewarding to know that the XPRTs have proven to be useful and reliable assessment tools for technology publications such as AnandTech, Expert Reviews, Gadgets 360, Gizmodo, Hot Hardware, Laptop Mag, Legit Reviews, Notebookcheck, PCMag, PCWorld, TechPowerUp, Tom’s Hardware, and ZDNet.

Downloads and confirmed runs
In 2021, we had more than 23,600 benchmark downloads and 228,900 confirmed runs. Our most popular benchmark, WebXPRT, just passed 909,800 runs since its debut in 2013! WebXPRT continues to be a go-to, industry-standard performance benchmark for OEM labs, vendors, and leading tech press outlets around the globe.

Media, publications, and interactive tools
Part of our mission with the XPRTs is to produce tools and materials that help testers better understand the ins and outs of benchmarking in general and the XPRTs in particular. To help achieve this goal, we published the following in 2021:

We’re thankful for everyone who has used the XPRTs, joined the community, and sent questions and suggestions throughout 2021. We look forward to an exciting 2022!

Justin

The CrXPRT 2 battery life test is back!

Last month, we discussed a potential fix for the error that was preventing CrXPRT 2 testers from successfully completing battery life tests on systems running Chrome v89.x and later. Since then, we’ve been testing an updated, unpublished version of the app package across several Chromebook models to ensure that the new build is stable and produces consistent results. We’re happy to report that our testing was successful, and we’ve published the new CrXPRT build (v1.2.0.0) in the Chrome Web Store and it is live as of 12:45 PM EDT today.

Note that it might take some time for the update to appear on your Chromebook and, once it does, you might have to manually approve the update notice.

Neither the tests nor the method of calculating the overall score and battery-life score in this new build have changed, so results are comparable with previous CrXPRT 2 results.

We appreciate everyone’s patience while we found a solution to the error. If you have any questions or comments about the CrXPRT 2 battery life test, please feel free to contact us!

Justin

The WebXPRT 4 tech press feedback survey

Device reviews in publications such as AnandTech, Notebookcheck, and PCMag, among many others, often feature WebXPRT test results, and we appreciate the many members of the tech press that use WebXPRT. As we move forward with the WebXPRT 4 development process, we’re especially interested in learning what longtime users would like to see in a new version of the benchmark.  

In previous posts, we’ve asked people to weigh in on the potential addition of a WebAssembly workload or a battery life test. We’d also like to ask experienced testers some other test-related questions. To that end, this week we’ll be sending a WebXPRT 4 survey directly to members of the tech press who frequently publish WebXPRT test results.

Regardless of whether you are a member of the tech press, we invite you to participate by sending your answers to any or all the questions below to benchmarkxprtsupport@principledtechnologies.com. We ask you to do so by the end of May.

  • Do you think WebXPRT 3’s selection of workload scenarios is representative of modern web tasks?
  • How do you think WebXPRT compares to other common browser-based benchmarks, such as JetStream, Speedometer, and Octane?
  • Are there web technologies that you’d like us to include in additional workloads?
  • Are you happy with the WebXPRT 3 user interface? If not, what UI changes would you like to see?
  • Are there any aspects of WebXPRT 2015 that we changed in WebXPRT 3 that you’d like to see us change back?
  • Have you ever experienced significant connection issues when testing with WebXPRT?
  • Given the array of workloads, do you think the WebXPRT runtime is reasonable? Would you mind if the average runtime were a bit longer?
  • Are there any other aspects of WebXPRT 3 that you’d like to see us change?

If you’d like to discuss any topics that we did not cover in the questions above, please feel free to include additional comments in your response. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Justin

Following up on CrXPRT 2 battery life errors

A few weeks ago, we discussed error messages that a tester received when starting up CrXPRT 2 after a battery life test. CrXPRT 2 battery life tests require a full battery rundown, after which the tester plugs in the Chromebook, turns it on, opens the CrXPRT 2 app, and sees the test results. In the reported cases, the tester opened the app after a battery life test that seemed successful, but saw “N/A” or “test error” messages instead of the results they expected.

During discussions about the end-of-test system environment, we realized that some testers might be unclear about how to tell that the battery has fully run down. During the system idle portion of CrXPRT 2 battery life test iterations, the Chromebook screen turns black and a small cursor appears somewhere on the screen to let testers know the test is still in progress. We believe that some testers, seeing the black screen but not the cursor, believe the system has shut down. Restarting CrXPRT 2 before the battery life test is complete could explain some of the “N/A” or “test error” messages users have reported.

If you see a black screen without a cursor, you can check to see whether the test is complete by looking for the small system power indicator light on the side or top of most Chromebooks. These are usually red, orange, or green, but if a light of any color is lit, the test is still underway. When the light goes out, the test has ended. You can plug the system in and power it on to see results.

Note that some Chromebooks provide low-battery warnings onscreen. During CrXPRT 2 battery life runs, testers should ignore these.

We hope this clears up any confusion about how to know when a CrXPRT 2 battery life test has ended. If you’ve received repeated “N/A” or “test error” messages during your CrXPRT 2 testing and the information above does not help, please let us know!

Justin

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