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Sony's slender Vaio SZ4 is geared to folk who don't like their laptops to weigh them down. It's not the most compact of models, but at very portable 1.7kg, the SZ4 is eminently suited not only to the portability-over-performance crowd but also to those who want their laptop to be a looker. Sony Vaio SZ4 series notebook Case …

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Yup

Yup. The battery life on these leaves a lot to be desired and your figures are pretty much spot on - A long way shy of Sony's "up to 4.5 Hours" claim. More annoying is the tendancy on mine for battery charge to evaporate when the machine is switched off.

The previous SZ series models had far superior battery life and come to think of it, performance as well. Considering the horsepower the SZ4 has under the hood in comparison, Vista has a lot to answer for.

And please Sony, for the love of god stop bundling that Norton Junk on business notebooks.

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Anonymous Coward

Business oriented ? Yeah, right.

I have two of those things right here. Upper management likes its Sony's, so... guess who can deal with the mess.

We have a couple of Vaio notebooks in the company, though I try to keep it to an absolute minimum. First and foremost: those things are great, EXCEPT in a business environment. Vista is no go with us, for several reasons (VPN clients, weird behaviour with large file transfers,...) until we can confirm that everything works the way it should. So we're still running XP on the clients, something which most medium-sized business can probably relate to. Guess what drivers are available on the Sony website ? Go on, guess...

That's right ! Vista only, baby ! Other than that, I have several more reasons to absolutely hate Sony's friggin' guts (and yes, they all have to do with Vaio notebooks in a business environment), but putting all that in this post would make it a bit too "ranty", so I'll leave it for another time. After all, I have the web to search for some oddball webcam driver, which the average manager can't do without.

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Anonymous Coward

Battery life is MUCH worse than its predecessors have!

If this pathetic battery life - under 2 hours - is true then Sony must have seriously screwed up something.

My last-year 260P/C (same full carbon 3.6lbs housing, Core Duo @ 1.86GHz, same HDD, switchable Intel/Nvidia integrated/dedicated VGAs, same DVD burner, WiFi, BT, fingerprint reader, webcam, 1GB memory etc) has a very-very impressive, roughly ~4.5 or more hours life with BT off, WiFi always-on when running with the Intel GMA950 and a still impressive 3-4 hours when running with dedicated GeForce Go 7400 and I only have a standard battery in it.

As for Vista we managed to get a free Vista Business Upg from Sony, DVD just arrived about a month ago but I don't think I will install it before a SP1 shows up - I use Vista at work and it's a horrible crap compared to XP Pro SP2 or XP Pro x64 Edition, no one should upgrade to Vista on a business machine, I'm strongly against it.

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Battery life can be better, and it's Vista making your battery die overnight!

I have the SZ1, and upgraded it to Vista, with the extended battery I can get around 3 hours out of it in "speed" mode, as long as the screen is at 50% brightness - something well worth doing in most cases as you don't need it all. Without the brightness change, I also got about an hour.

Regarding this:

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More annoying is the tendancy on mine for battery charge to evaporate when the machine is switched off.

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No, that'll be a Vista thing - my SZ1 started doing it too after I put vista on, and it seems for reasons I don't yet know, Vista even wakes the laptop up from hibernate, I only noticed when (a) my battery was suddenly always dead in the morning, and (b) very hot because it had woken up in my bag. My vista desktop does the same damn thing too, but obviously isn't such an issue.

Vista can be blamed for most of this, not the laptop, and as such although I've bought an SZ4, my Vista install will be left to one side for XP for now until Vista becomes sufficiently credible that I can rely on it.

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Anonymous Coward

What are you talking about?

Hi.

I simply can't believe your reported battery life. I mean what have you set the SZ4 to when you measured the battery life? I've got a SZ4MN/b and my battery lasts around 3-4hours and just under 5 under really light use. Okay fair that I've got it on Stamina (meaning on-board Intel graphics but it even runs HD and Aero content absolutely fine), then the Vista power setting to 'Save Power' saver, 1/2 brightness and no music and stuff then you can easily reach over three hours of battery life.

Obviously it won't last long if you're watching films, playing games and stuff. But this is a Business oriented laptop and under my normal Wi-Fi usage, Internet and Word, I can easily achieve 3+ hours. Either you guys made some big mistakes or there is a fault with the hardware (battery).

Thanks for reading.

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Clarification on battery testing

I left the battery switch on Normal/Performance mode, rather than Stamina. According to Sony's figures you'll get about half an hour more life in Stamina mode,

The battery run down test simply loops PCMark05 so it really is continuous use. Some battery tests attempt to simulate real world usage by leaving typing a Word document with pauses between each keystroke, just like a real person would. This allows the chipset and processor to work more intelligently and use gating to reduce battery drain.

The problem is that there is no such thing as 'typical' usage and even in these comments you'll see that there are two distinct camps. Vista seems to hurt battery life, although SP1 may help. A full Centrino will definitely deliver better battery life, and Santa Rosa will likely build on that. We were disappointed not to see two hours of battery life and if that translates into 7 or 8 hours for the previous commentator then so much the better. Once we've cracked batteries that can handle trans-Atlantic flights it's time to work on trans-Pacific followed by one that can manage a flight to Australia. Heck, most laptops won't make it through check-in and onto the plane.

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More on battery life...

On the subject of how long it lasts, my old Laptop was a Vaio Z1RSP (I think offhand that was the model), I had the extended battery for that, and it lasted practically forever. I could take a 2.5 hour train journey, work on for 2-4 hours during the day, come back on the train for another 2.5 and it would then be ready to give up - thats 6-9 hours - and it still lasts that now, it's the thing I miss most.

Tweaking what is switched on/off makes a big difference and screen brightness is the biggest drain bar none.

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tim

Its pretty kewl

Bought this when it had came out, but it only had windows vista on it :(. Its now running faster with suse on it. Also, apart from the scanner and cam everything was picked up to my suprise.

The best feature is that its very light and looks smarty.

The annoying features are:

- After closing the monitor, when opening it again there are annoying marks on the lcd screen from the keyboard.

- The battery life sucks

- When i first bought it the drivers were not even working for the t-mobile wan card

- The wifi card has had a few problems both under linux and windows (a colleague also has one and he too has the same probs)

Conclusion buy the sz3 you'll save alot of money and will not notice any performance issues.

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Hmmm....

You don't specify the exact model so apologies if I'm missing the point.

I've got a SZ4 MN_B. I suspect that this isn't exactly the same as the one you roadtested as it was considerably cheaper, and is I think slightly heavier.

I don't recognise the battery issues. I was disappointed to find that - in Stamina mode - but with the wi fi on, I only got 2 hours, or maybe a bit more than that. Luckily the guy in the store had warned me about the Sony "9 hours" battery life hype (I was looking at an even smaller model - but it promised 9 hours battery life.) He told me that this was assuming no programmes running and the display down to minimal. But even so, I seem to be getting considerably more battery life than you suggest.

I agree that Vista is far from great - and I'm glad that someone else is having the battery running down thing. I think it may be if you leave it in sleep. I find that if you put it into Hibernate and hang about for a minute to make sure that it's really turning itself off, you are OK, but it does often hang.

I'm moderately pleased with the model. It's hugely lighter than my previous Samsung X50, though that did have a truly massive screen, and it works OK, even if it took me a week to work out how to turn off the hugely annoying My Vaio start up programme - and another day or two to find the Vista games which had been deactivated!

Not the world's best laptop - but battery life rather better than your experience.

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