Sony Vaio SZ4 slimline laptop
It's slim but is it a lightweight?
Review 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.
Case in point: there is no case. Clearly Sony wants you to carry this svelte puppy under your arm and show it to world. With its 13.3in display, it comes in at a carryable 31.5 x 23.3 x 3.5cm, so it'll easily slip into most briefcases with room to spare.
But why tuck it away? The photos don't do justice to the SZ4 and make it look rather average. In fact, the quality of the chassis and the feel of the finish are absolutely top notch.
Not so its chippery. Although Intel has recently launched the new 'Santa Rosa' Centrino Duo platform, the hardware inside the SZ4 is based on the previous generation of silicon. This means that the dual-core CPU uses a 667MHz frontide bus rather than an 800MHz one - the 512MB of DDR 2 memory is clocked to an even lower 533MHz - and other neat new features, such as the Turbo Memory Flash cache accelerator and 802.11n next-gen wireless networking, are conspicuous by their absence.
What you do get is a reasonable 120GB hard drive and a 2GHz Core 2 Duo T2900 processor. Happily Sony has specified an Nvidia GeForce Go 7400 graphics chip rather than the unimpressive graphics engine built into the machine's Intel i945GM chipset, so the Windows Vista Aero interface is fully supported. Sony has opted to bundle Vista's Business Edition, which brings us to the crux of the SZ4.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More annoying is the tendancy on mine for battery charge to evaporate when the machine is switched off.
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.