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July 7, 2011 • Reviews

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 settings 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.

Observations:

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!

Conclusions:

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!

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

  1. What Would You Do If You Had Up to 15 Hours of Battery Life? - Windows Community Forum says:

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  2. What Would You Do If You Had Up to 15 Hours of Battery Life? says:

    […] Sony VAIO S Series PC – this sleek, light and durable PC is perfect for students. Here is what Ben the PC Guy thinks. If that isn’t enough of an endorsement, hear what these college bloggers have to say: Cheap Scholar, Campus Grotto and Gear Diary. […]

  3. Windows 7 Insider » Blog Archive » What Would You Do If You Had Up to 15 Hours of Battery Life? says:

    […] Sony VAIO S Series PC – this sleek, light and durable PC is perfect for students. Here is what Ben the PC Guy thinks. If that isn’t enough of an endorsement, hear what these college bloggers have to say: Cheap Scholar, Campus Grotto and Gear Diary. […]

  4. Windows 7 Insider » Blog Archive » Did You Win the Sony VAIO with Up to 15 Hours of Battery Life? says:

    […] Gear Diary: “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.” […]

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