My ‘Normal Usage’ Test: Sony Vaio S-Series ‘Unplugged for a Day’

In this article I test out my ‘Normal Usage’ scenario – that is just what it sounds like: a basic setup that doesn’t push heavy gaming, but allows me to go about my day without feeling I am sacrificing anything. The graphics is set to ‘Stamina’ (integrated) and the power plan to ‘balanced’.

One of the big claims of the new Sony Vaio S-series laptop is that not only does it deliver great performance in a svelte package, but combined with the sheet battery can deliver up to 15 hours of usage between charges. That requires certain settingsĀ and while I definitely plan to put it to the test very soon, I have also had the opportunity to test the Vaio S-series in other usage scenarios. There are two in particular that I found particularly useful – ‘Gaming Mode’ and ‘Normal Usage’. Each of those tests the S-series in different ways and therefore has different settings.

Let’s see how the S-series performs!


Operating Conditions:

Before setting out to test ‘normal usage’, I needed to decided exactly what that meant, in order to provide a fair test. Here is the screenshot of my power plan:

But there is more – here are some of my other operating conditions:

  • WiFi On at all times
  • DVD drive powered Off.
  • External mouse in use, the Fierce Gaming Mouse I reviewed.
  • USB drive usually in the system as I worked on data analysis.
  • No limits on apps – I used Chrome for web stuff, Microsoft Office apps, and the statistical tools JMP, Minitab and R, as well as little things like Paint for screenshots as I made progress. On the web I mostly used email and basic services, but also watched a couple of YouTube songs.


I started by charging the Sony S-series overnight from a nearly drained state, getting everything set up as noted above, and then unplugging the AC adapter. As you can see below, I started the day with both the main and sheet battery charged to 100%.

This morning I needed to take my wife’s car to the shop before heading to work. I wanted to wait to talk to someone (i.e. manager … 2nd time in shop in 2 weeks) after dropping the car with service, so I used the dealership WiFi while I waited. Once I got to work I set up the Sony on my desk, plugged in the mouse and memory stick and opened the remainder of my normal applications. After three hours of use the S-series was down to 78% battery – the main battery was fully charged while the sheet battery was down to 50%.

As today was mostly a ‘desk day’, the s-series was in nearly constant use with the majority of my applications open all day long. I simply used the computer as I normally would, and with the ‘balanced’ power plan I never felt I was compromising anything! After six hours of constant use the system showed approximately three hours of battery life remaining. One interesting thing was how accurate the estimate was – despite the normal ups and downs of usage making these estimates very rough, after three hours of use I showed six hours remaining … and after six hours I showed three hours. All roads pointed to me getting a full nine hours of uncompromising battery life.

Whereas I would normally begin energy conservation measures to protect the final minutes of battery, that wasn’t necessary with the Sony. I had been using the laptop for 9 hours, full of web usage and heavy statistical analysis, and I still had 11% left on the main battery and an estimated 37 minutes of life remaining.

Well … that was it. I managed to grab a screen just before the system shut itself down into hibernation mode, and the time was just over 10.5 hours since I pulled the power plug in the morning!


The laptop had served me extremely well all day – and by the end I had changed my habits. I have always just defaulted to ‘performance’ mode, but I realize that the integrated graphics on a system like the S-series is powerful enough to handle normal tasks without any major issue and that I can simply switch to discrete graphics and ‘performance mode’ when needed.

One thing I noticed was that whenever I needed to close the lid (sleep) to move from one area to another or when I locked the system when I was away from my desk for more than a few minutes, the DVD drive would be recognized again and turned on for a few minutes before shutting down. I am not sure how much power that uses but it is one thing I wish I could have done – made the DVD STAY off!

I was completely amazed – I got 10.5 hours of battery life and didn’t do anything other than what I would normally do during my day. The Sony S-series performs very well with more conservative settings – I never felt like I was missing out.

Next up – I torture the Sony S-series in high-performance mode with Duke Nukem Forever, Fable III and The Witcher II until it can take no more!

Remember to check out the Sony S-series web site for more details and offers!

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