You get a fairly reasonable list of software with the SZ4, including SonicStageCP 4.2, SonicStage Mastering Studio 2.3, DVgate Plus 2.3, WinDVD 8.0, Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0, Acrobat 8.0 and Microsoft Works 8.5, as well as the annoying trial version of Norton Internet Security 2007. We have to wonder how much of this is relevant to the business user, and in particular Works and Norton seem out of place.
The SZ4's performance is solid if uninspiring. However, the cooling fan makes a steady noise not dissimilar to a small hairdryer. Sony has done an impressive job by shoehorning this much hardware into such a slender chassis, but it seems that the cooling system has paid a price.
Running the standard benchmark tests, the GeForce Go 7200 scored 707 - not bad for general apps, but you'd not want to run games more graphically challenging than Tetris on it. That's reflected in the low-ish PCMark05 graphics rating of 2103, compared to CPU, memory and hard disk scores of 4801, 3890 and 3205, respectively. Overall, the SZ4 scored 4084.
We've got bad news when it comes to the battery life as we only got a mere one hour and five minutes of continuous use from the SZ4. The standard battery is rated at 5200mAh and costs an amusing £139. But the alternative, 7800mAh battery is priced at a scary £279. We reckon this bigger battery should last for one hour and 40 minutes, which is hardly more than the bundled standard unit, so you'd better expect to carry the sizeable 560g AC adaptor supply with you when you're on the move.
We have mixed feelings about the Vaio SZ4. It looks superb and has a decent keyboard and a clear, bright, colourful screen. The list of features is likely to appeal to the business user - especially if you can persuade your company to pay for it - and its size will win the approval of individuals who doesn't mind paying a little more to get a machine that's a lot more portable than most. But with such a short battery life it doesn't seem like a practical proposition.
Sony Vaio SZ4 slimline laptop
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.