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Sony VAIO S - Battery Life, Value and Verdict

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


Of course, one of the most important factors for any ultraportable tends to be how long it can survive away from a socket. Sony claims seven hours for this machine, with an optional slice battery available for an extra £125 supposedly doubling this to a whopping 14 hours!


Unfortunately we didn't have a slice battery to hand to verify the doubling claim, and the SB didn't quite hold up to that seven hour estimate either. With screen brightness set to 40 percent and wireless radios turned off, our battery test isn't particularly demanding, yet the SB only managed five minutes over five hours. While that's hardly terrible, it's a bit too far from seven for our liking. However, in Stamina mode you might get closer than we did.

So how does the SB hold up in the value stakes? Rather well, actually. Admittedly it's not quite on a level with even slimmer, all-metal rivals like the 13in version of the Apple MacBook Air, Samsung Series 9 or Lenovo ThinkPad X1 (that's what Sony's VAIO Z is for), but then it costs considerably less. In fact, with a starting price of £700, it feels more expensive than it is.

Its affordable price puts the cheaper option in the Sony S Series into direct competition with the Toshiba Satellite R830. Between the two, we would say the Sony offers a sexier look, better keyboard and superior screen. On the other hand, the Toshiba has the edge in lightness, battery life, connectivity and – if you don't care about discrete graphics – specs, and also stays quieter under load.

In fact, we would have little hesitation recommending Sony's beautiful little laptop to anyone after an affordable ultraportable, were it not for one thing: it gets seriously noisy. All's fine when you're just typing away in a document or browsing the web. But when playing an intensive movie or game, the fans in the VAIO SB start to spin up, and they get loud!

To be fair, this is a complaint with many small, thin yet powerful laptops, including the Air. However, the SB does get noisier than most, which is a real shame as it's inaudible during light use. If this doesn't bother you, it's a versatile, well-connected all-rounder that represents excellent value.


Sony's 13.3in ultraportable is sleek, stylish, available in a range of colours, and stuffed with connectivity. It offers excellent build quality with a lovely aluminium keyboard surround; a good, backlit keyboard; decent screen and versatile specifications, which include discrete graphics for some light gaming. The only things preventing it from winning one of our coveted awards are that it trails the pack when it comes to battery life, and gets very noisy on occasion.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 7
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Value 8

Chris Hamer

July 28, 2011, 4:40 am

"However, in Stamina mode you might get closer than we did." So you ran the battery test in speed mode? That is quite unfair tbh! Considering you put this against others without having to run a ATI chip. If you did run it in speed mode and achieved 5 hours that is remarkable! Considering sony states in speed mode the battery should last 3.5 hours and stamina 7.5 hours!
At the bottom of the page under primary battery.
When i ran the SA (love it, replacing my thinkpad!) in stamina mode with 50-60% brightness with the extended battery i was predicted over 12 hours with battery bar. Another way is to limit the CPU to 50% of it's power consumption on battery. Also with the fans making a noise did you check the vaio control panel to have the fan's in balanced mode?
Thought I would post my comments after purchasing the SA!


July 28, 2011, 8:36 pm

I'd be interested in seeing the results of the battery tests in stamina mode, too. If it's one of the things preventing an award, it would surely make a big difference?


August 2, 2011, 2:09 am

Review should have used stamina mode for battery test. Otherwise, a helpful review. Disapointed to hear there is no mic input.

@Chris, I'd be interested to know how long your SA is able to last in stamina mode with light use and without the battery slice. Also, are you getting excessive noise under load.


August 2, 2011, 2:12 am

Also, what is the effect of the battery slice on weight and dimensions?

Chris Hamer

August 3, 2011, 5:30 pm

@ Ozaz
Ill try and do a battery test for you soon!
I done some measurements to compare to the laptop this is replacing!
Power Supply: 400g
Battery Slice: 500g
Laptop: 1600g (With HDD)
Total: 2500g


August 6, 2011, 6:39 pm

Thanks for the info on the weight. No need to bother with the battery test. I've been reading a few other reviews and user comments and the consistent picture is that the built in battery is good for about 6.5 hours during real-world light use with WLAN on and stamina mode on.


August 16, 2011, 2:31 pm

@Chris and all:
Sorry for the tardy comment, I had submitted one before but it must have gotten lost in the great data tides.
No, I did NOT run the battery test in Speed mode - nor in Stamina mode, but on the same settings as every other laptop, hence keeping it fair.

Glad you found it helpful. We used custom battery-test settings to keep it on even footing with rivals.


August 16, 2011, 4:37 pm

How did you run it in neither speed mode nor stamina mode? Isn't the hardware switch a 2-level switch which can only be set to either speed or stamina?

IMO, battery tests should use the power saving features of the laptop as efficient battery usage modes would be a good reason for buying a laptop.


February 1, 2012, 3:19 pm

DUAL MONITORS - a warning. I read the specifications, saw it had VGA and HDMI outputs and got one for work. Guess what? It doesn't support dual monitors from both outputs. That is official from Sony technical support. Such a basic function from a laptop aimed partially at business and one with a dedicated ATI GPU as well. All my previous laptops which cost half this has this feature. I'm really surprised this isn't picked up in any review.


July 31, 2012, 4:00 pm

The sound and the speakers needed to be improved and it will be a great business laptop.

Mackenzie Gorman

April 23, 2014, 5:24 pm

I bought this computer because I am a student and thought it would be a great laptop to get me through school....boy was I wrong. This is actually the worst computer I have ever heard of. I have only had it for just under three years and I will need to get a new one in a couple weeks. I would like to point out that I DO take GREAT care of all of my electronics, but for whatever reason my vaio has decided to chack out. The first year after I purchased it I had to replace the hard drive because it crashed on me. After I did that I needed to purchase another firewall and protection program as myone time use had been on the other hard drive. So far that is the cost of the laptop (which was not cheap) plus another $250 for the hard drive and premium protection. Now I need to get a new computer because this obe has completely died. First the screen would take longer to load than normal, and today it just completely shut down and I cannot get it to turn back on no matter what I do. Sorry, but this comouter is a piece of crap and I would NOT recommend it AT ALL. Your money is better spent on something different.

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