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Review Sony Vaio SA- and SB-Series - Docking Station & Battery Slice

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by Vinay Pradhan), 04/27/2011

Docked. Sony is equipping its new Vaio SA- and SB-series with docking stations and battery slices. The battery life is going to double, and the annoying plugging in of power cables will be a thing of the past.

Sony Vaio VPC-SB1Z9EB with Battery Slice VGP-BPSC24 on the Docking Station VGP-PRS20
Sony Vaio VPC-SB1Z9EB with Battery Slice VGP-BPSC24 on the Docking Station VGP-PRS20

Who hasn't stared jealously at the extensive docking and battery options available for the business class models from HP, Lenovo or Dell? Now Vaio users can profit from these features too. The mainstream consumer series, Vaio SA and SB, come with docking stations and battery slices, granting the user the ultimate battery life experience.

Docking Station VGP-PRS20

The docking station, VGP-PRS20 (about 129 Euros), uses a power adapter cable which is similar to that of the notebook (mixing the two up won't cause any problems). As the user will have two power cables which serve the same purpose, he/she can leave the cable of the docking station plugged in during a trip for simplicity sake. The docking station can be used to recharge batteries (including the battery slice) and the slider on the right side allows the user to switch to "Extended Battery" mode. 

The docking port offers HDMI, VGA, 4 USB ports (no USB 3.0; those are only available on the notebooks themselves) and 2 x RJ45 (LAN) ports. As soon as the Vaio is placed on the docking port, the HDMI, VGA and RJ45 ports of the laptop can no longer be used, and to prevent anyone from doing so, the docking station has two plastic flaps on the side which block these ports effectively.

The placement of the device does not involve the use of any latches or locks. This means: place the laptop on the two protruding bumps and you're done. The subnotebook will not slip due to two securing hooks (silver) which stick out of the base unit and secure the model so that it doesn't fall.

VGP-PRS20: Point of view
VGP-PRS20: Point of view
VGP-PRS20: Lying on top
VGP-PRS20: Lying on top
VGP-PRS20: Port blockers
VGP-PRS20: Port blockers
VGP-PRS20: Connector
VGP-PRS20: Connector

Battery Slice VGP-BPSC24

The VGP-BPSC24 battery slice is a flat battery (Li-Polymer, 6 cell), which fits under the base unit of the Vaio SA- and SB series models. It has a capacity of 4.400 mAh or 49 Wh (11.1V). The notebooks have have a connector on the bottom which allows them to attach themselves to the slice battery. However, this connector is not the same as the one found on the docking port. This additional battery slice VGP-BPSC24 costs around 130 Euros and weighs 520 grams.

During notebook use, the batteries are designed in such a way that the slice battery will be used first. The slice battery can be charged via the notebook or  through a small charging dongle (while the battery is not connected), so theoretically, the 13.3 inch device can run the entire day without internet.

The black battery slice looks good when attached to the notebook, even though its colour only fits to that of the black Vaio SB. The latch has two metal hooks on the locking side. The holes for these hooks, on the other side, are made of synthetic material. To prevent an accidental unlocking, the security mechanism is two-fold (lock and release). The perpendicular hole in the middle of the slice battery is for the docking station (without this hole, the slice battery would raise the laptop enough to free the non-functioning ports).

Run time

For our test we used the series model VPC-SB1S1E/W with an i5-2410M processor. This model comes with a 50 Wh battery (4.540 mAh). We dimmed the brightness to roughly 100 cd/m² during our test. The CPU load was low while surfing on the web (no videos, only websites). One downside is that the charging of the duo packet (notebook battery + battery slice) takes a while: 5:46 hours.

WLAN-Test @50 Wh Standard: 314 minutes (5:14h)

WLAN-Test @50 Wh + 49 Wh: 648 minutes (10:48h)

VGP-BPSC24: for the Vaio SA & SB
VGP-BPSC24: for the Vaio SA & SB
VGP-BPSC24: Plastic latch
VGP-BPSC24: Plastic latch
VGP-BPSC24: Metal hook mechanism
VGP-BPSC24: Metal hook mechanism
VGP-BPSC24: Battery details
VGP-BPSC24: Battery details
VGP-BPSC24: Lock and Release
VGP-BPSC24: Lock and Release

Verdict

Thanks to the docking station and battery slice, the user is spared the chaos of  cables all over the place, and the mobility is doubled. These two additional features are fully compatible with each other, which means that the Vaio notebook can still sit on the docking station, even if the slice battery is attached. These features are sure to immensely increase the comfort of the user, as both the Vaio SA (not available yet) and the Vaio SB (see our test) can connect within one second to these peripheral devices.

Docking Station VGP-PRS20: USB 3.0 is only available on the device
Docking Station VGP-PRS20: USB 3.0 is only available on the device
In Review: Sony Docking Station VGP-PRS20 and Battery Slice VGP-BPSC24
In Review: Sony Docking Station VGP-PRS20 and Battery Slice VGP-BPSC24
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Author: Sebastian Jentsch, 2011-04-27 (Update: 2013-06- 6)