For this string of tests, I enabled wireless options only when necessary (i.e., when I actually used them). In my multimedia tests, I often turned on the wireless radios just to find out how battery life was affected. Since I learned the hard (and long) way that the UX battery doesn’t really distinguish between "wireless on" and "wireless off," I decided not to spend any more of my life testing it out under an extra set of conditions.
Most of my UX time is spent online; in fact, sometimes that’s the only thing I’ll do with it for several days. All my web surfing is done either through a hardwire or wireless connection, with or without Bluetooth enabled for my Think Outside Stowaway Universal keyboard.
Sometimes I’ll also connect a Logitech V400 USB laser cordless mouse to the unit’s built-in USB 2.0 port.
I tested battery life under what I consider to be typical Internet usage sessions. “Typical” to me means visiting about 20 websites to read gadget and other news, post in forums, email, update this site, download trial software or freeware (usually smaller than 5MB), check for Windows updates, write a news post for Anything But iPod, watch a video clip or two, and maybe do some online shopping. I’m sure that spending more or less time doing any of these activities will affect battery life, but I didn’t alter any of my behavior. After all, realistic results can only be yielded from realistic tests.
Note: I still haven’t signed up with an EDGE plan, so none of the results include how WWAN affects battery life. I do plan to write something about EDGE and Bluetooth DUN in the future, but it won’t be in relation to power consumption.
All wireless off: 1 hr, 42 min
All wireless off (w/USB mouse): 1 hr, 46 min
Bluetooth on (w/keyboard): 1 hr, 50 min
Bluetooth on (w/keyboard + USB mouse): 1 hr, 45 min
WLAN on: 2 hrs, 11 min
WLAN on (w/USB mouse): 1 hr, 53 min
WLAN + Bluetooth on (w/keyboard): 2 hrs, 1 min
WLAN + Bluetooth on (w/keyboard + USB mouse): 1 hr, 55 min
Microsoft Word is usually the only program I have open simultaneously with Internet Explorer, as I often need to fact check or look something up in the dictionary. I normally use my Bluetooth keyboard (powered by AAA batteries) and laser cordless mouse and stay wirelessly connected to the Internet, but I got a hold of a USB keyboard for these tests as well.
For the multimedia tests, I just set a file to play on repeat, walked away, and checked back periodically. With these tests, I had to actually interact with the UX and its 4.5-inch screen at all times. To retain my current contact lens prescription, I hooked up a 17-inch external monitor.
The behavior of the UX screen when connected to an external monitor can be defined in a number of ways.
Settings can be customized according to personal preferences, but what it boils down to as far as battery life is concerned is whether to keep the UX screen on or off. There’s little reason to keep the screen on (extended desktop is an option, though not a useful one for me), but I did so for half of the tests. Essentially, leaving the screen on while connected to an external display drains the battery at the same rate as using the UX on the go. So the "UX screen on" results below are relevant for mobile mini desktop configurations.
I’m a staff writer at a fanzine, so I had an article to work on for a few hours. After I finished the piece, I wrote my OQO 01+ reviews and did a stream-of-consciousness thing for the rest of the tests. I didn’t write nonstop, of course, but I didn’t stare at the blinking cursor much either.
Note: For these tests, I was always connected to the Internet but I never went online or even opened a browser. Word was the only program open at all times.
UX screen on
Bluetooth keyboard + USB mouse: 1 hr, 55 min
USB keyboard: 1 hr, 58 min
UX screen off
Bluetooth keyboard + USB mouse: 2 hrs, 21 min
USB keyboard: 2 hrs, 24 min
UX screen on
Bluetooth keyboard + USB mouse: 2 hrs, 8 min
USB keyboard: 2 hrs, 15 min
UX screen off
Bluetooth keyboard + USB mouse: 2 hrs, 40 min
USB keyboard: 2 hrs, 47 min
It’s unreasonable to type for several hours using the integrated keyboard, so I have no idea how doing so affects battery life. I think this test is only suitable for the abnormally long-fingered typist or the average-fingered masochist. I am neither.
I threw in this test when I had a hankering to read an eBook the other day. As you may have read at Dear Author, I’m a bit of a fan. My eBooks are all stored on the UX hard drive in Microsoft Reader format.
All wireless off: 2 hrs, 45 min
WLAN on: 2 hrs, 41 min
After running all these tests, it’s disconcerting that the performance times can be summed up like this: "about 2.5 hours." That’s how long the battery lasts. And that’s what Sony’s low-end estimate was!
Not including the time it took for me to write this entire review (which in itself amounts to more hours than I’d care to calculate), I have spent a truly obscene number of hours charging/draining the UX battery (who is not pleased). Those hours weren’t exactly labor intensive, of course, and I wasn’t chained to the desk while the minutes counted down, but still! Was it necessary to spend all those hours to confirm what we already knew? Of course not. But so it goes when you’re obsessed with a new electronic.
Keep in mind that there are still a lot of other power management settings to try out and that all of m y test results were based on continuous use. I don’t know whether battery life is extended if, say, the UX is put into standby or hibernate mode for a short period between hour-long sessions with the screen at a lower brightness.
But I’ll leave those tests up to someone else.