Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

July 22, 2011 • Reviews

My 15 Hour ‘Make It Last’ Torture Test: Sony Vaio S-Series ‘Unplugged for a Day’

In this article I test out my ‘Make It Last’ scenario – that is just what it sounds like: a svelte setup that doesn’t use any power unless it absolutely needs to, but allows me to go about my day and get stuff done. The graphics is set to ‘Stamina’ (integrated) and the power plan to ‘power saver’.

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. I have already tested the ‘Normal Use’ and ‘Hardcore Gaming’ modes … now it is time to see if this thing can actually delivery 15 hours of battery life!

Let’s see how the S-series performs!

Operating Conditions:

Before setting out to test ‘Make It Last’, 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.
  • No external mouse, internal trackpad only
  • No USB usage
  • Screen brightness set to minimum I could tolerate.
  • 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.


As before 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%.

I chose the day for the test based on only needing to make a couple of drives – to work and home. Each one is less than ten minutes, so I knew the test would be ‘pure’. I unplugged the S-series just before 6AM when I started doing some work at home before leaving for the day.

As today was mostly a ‘desk day’ again, 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 even with the ‘power saver’ power plan I never felt I was compromising anything! After three hours of use I noticed a couple of issues – for whatever reason the DVD was still powered on, and I had left the screen in ‘auto’ mode, so it was drawing much more power than intended. As a result it showed that I was on track to only get ~10.5 hours of battery life! I decided to fix those issues and see how things went for the rest of the day.

At the five hour mark you will notice something – in spite of two hours being used, the battery life remaining was more than an hour HIGHER than before – that is a three hour swing, and put me on target for at least 13 hours total life.

After seven hours – two hours later – only one hour had ticked off the battery life: this means that in spite of constant use I was looking at getting as much as 14 hours. It seemed that the system was catching up after I fixed the drain issues.

Nine hours in and things seem to have stabilized – two hours more had ticked off the clock. Still on track for at least 14 hours.

Between nine and eleven hours I was mostly just using the web browser and I noticed that once again my drain had decreased – so suddenly it seemed that I might reach fifteen hours! Also, it was then time to go home!

After thirteen hours I was using the system a bit less due to around the house things – the timer indicated a possible seventeen hours of battery, but I wasn’t believing it!

Between thirteen and fourteen hours I was doing work with multiple apps, and as a result the battery life dropped by two hours – and back in line with fifteen or so hours.

Just before the fifteen hour point I grabbed this screen showing only ten minutes remaining. Seems like it would just make fifteen hours.

After this I kept using the system, with the battery not quitting until just after 15:15 (fifteen hours and fifteen minutes) before it forced a hibernate.


I was absolutely stunned at the results – after messing up the display brightness I expected to have to abandon the test. So I was thrilled to see that when pushed the S-series can actually exceed 15 hours of battery life!

However, I need to be honest – I will never use this mode. I like an external mouse too much to stick with the trackpad, particularly since the positional sensitivity of the mouse click position is my biggest nitpick with the system. I also found that running the screen so dim caused my eyes to be tired at the end of the day, and not using a USB port is just not acceptable.

But I DID leave on the WiFi all day – if I disabled BlueTooth and WiFi I imagine it might be possible to approach sixteen hours of battery life.

One final thing worth mentioning – while there were many compromises, the core performance of the system was more than enough to meet my daily needs even in ‘power saver mode’. Most times in battery saver mode you can really feel the pain of the trade-off, but not here!

As I said I was completely amazed – I got more than 15 hours of battery life while still using all of my daily apps. The Sony S-series makes it possible to have a solid performing system and all-day battery all in one package!

Next up – I try a ‘Lo-Carb Gaming’ challenge, testing the Sony S-series in balanced mode with integrated graphics while playing older games such as Unreal II and Quake III!

Remember to check out the Sony S-series web site for more details and offers! The 50% off battery deal has been extended through July 30th!

One Response to " My 15 Hour ‘Make It Last’ Torture Test: Sony Vaio S-Series ‘Unplugged for a Day’ "

  1. […] out Gear Diary’s 15 hour torture test. Blogger, Michael provides clear power plans and various operating conditions to squeeze out just […]

Leave a Reply