Sony PCGA-BP3T Enhanced Battery


With the introduction of Transmeta Crusoe based notebooks, full featured subnotebooks and long battery life became a new reality. Not content to be left out of the game, Intel developed the Pentium M and its Centrino platform to not only bring long battery life but to do so without compromising performance. Along with the advances in processor technology, screen and battery technology has evolved as well and a new breed of products have emerged.

The Sony TR1AP I purchased several months ago was one of these products that showcased the marriage of many of these new technologies. One of the things that attracted me to the notebook was the claim of very long battery life. Sony claims that the standard battery (PCGA-BP2T) can get 2.5-7.0 hours of life. Of course, anyone who knows anything about notebooks knows that manufacturer claims for notebook battery life are generally laughable and nowhere near what they state.

I had heard that Centrino platform-based notebooks did have pretty good battery life so I was eager to test out the claims. I was even more intrigued by Sony’s PCGA-BP3T large capacity battery which claimed 3.5-11.0 hours!

And so, I decided to put both the BP2T and BP3T through a series of tests to determine if Sony was embellishing on the specifications.


The PCGA-BP3T is the large capacity battery pack for use with the Sony TR-series of notebooks. This lithium ion based battery has the following specifications:

• 11.1V/6600mAh
• 73260mWh
• Weight: 1.09 lbs
• Dimensions (W x D x H): 8 1/4” x 2 7/8” x 1”

For comparison, the standard battery pack has the following specifications:

• 11.1V/4300mAh
• 47730mWh
• Weight: 0.68 lbs
• Dimensions (W x D x H): 8 1/4” x 2” x 0.75”

For size comparison you can see the following pictures to see the difference in size.

When installed the BP3T brings the TR to over 3.5lbs and seems to make the TR feel more solid. There have been some complaints that the BP2T standard battery is a tad bit loose and can rattle when installed. The BP3T fits much more snugly and does not rattle at all.

You’ll notice that the BP3T actually raises the rear of the Sony TR about 1/4” off the desk and has it’s own rubber feet. I actually like this design since it slightly tilts the keyboard forward and provides a little more room for ventilation of the memory.

Another thing to note is that because it increases the depth of the system about ¾”, your TR may or may not fit into your case. You should take this into account if you already have a form fitting case. If you have a PCGA-CK5T that I reviewed earlier you should know that it will not close completely if you have the BP3T installed. You can still use the case but you can’t zip it closed completely.

The Tests

Determining what tests to run was extremely difficult as if was hard to find tests that were relevant in terms of real world usage. The other somewhat frustrating thing was that the tests took an insane amount of time (which is sort of a good thing) to do as I had to fully charge the batteries after waiting hours for them to discharge.

My goals were to determine two things: worst case scenario and best case scenario. In both cases, I wanted the scenarios to be real world so I came up with the following:

Worst case scenario – Continuous DVD playback. A DVD is played continuously at maximum brightness until it reaches 3% battery life at which point, the system forcibly hibernates. The reason why I picked this test is that optical disc and screen are two of the more power hungry devices on the system. Additionally, the CPU is used heavily on this test as it’s needed for decoding the MPEG stream. Some of this is hardware assisted by the supporting chipset but it’s a pretty decent test.

Best case scenario – Continuous MP3 playback. A playlist of 250 MP3s is played continuously with the lid closed (no screen) until it reaches 2%. The reason for this test was to see if Sony’s estimated claims were true for the approximated 7 (BP2T) or 11 (BP3T) hours. I figure MP3 playback uses a little CPU so that the system isn’t completely idle and some folks actually do run their TRs as MP3 players while on the road.

I used the Maximum Battery Life profile for all battery tests only changing brightness settings. I did this because I felt that this is the profile most people are going to use when on battery mode and it offers the best trade off using the adaptive CPU profile which provides just enough performance for the task at hand and conserving energy when necessary.

In all of the tests, Wi-Fi and memory stick slots were turned off. I did run a test with W-Fi on to see if it made any difference. We’ll cover that in the charts below.

For monitoring and logging battery life, I used PassMark’s BatteryMon which monitors battery usage with graphics and configurable logging options. The DVD test utilized Intervideo’s WinDVD Platinum 5 software with mobile optimizations. While there isn’t a lot of documentation on this, the optimizations seem to cache data off a DVD to keep the DVD from spinning constantly. Also, WinDVD 5 adds a new Windows power profile (not Power Panel profile) which I did not use.  The MP3 test utilized Nullsoft’s Winamp 5.0 player.

Worst Case Scenario: DVD Playback

So, as you can clearly see, with the screen set at maximum brightness both the BP2T and the BP3T batteries are impressive. At nearly 3 hours (for the BP2T) you can definitely watch most movies or two shorter movies. The BP3T pushes almost 4.5 hours which is in line with Sony’s claim of 1.5 more battery life.

Taking the screen brightness down to 50% (which is suitable for being in dark rooms or those with sensitive eyes) garners even more impressive battery times.  The BP3T approaches 5.5 hours which is more than enough time to watch two movies and have time left over to do other work. That’s truly impressive.

I added the WiFi enabled test at the 50% battery life to show that it does drain a little extra battery life.

Best Case Scenario: MP3 Playback

So, I was looking for times near 7 hours (for the BP2T) and 11 hours (for the BP3T) and these batteries got pretty close. The BP2T hit nearly 6 hours while the BP3T just eclipsed the 9 hour mark.

9 hours! Even though it falls short of 11 hours it still is an impressive feat. Sure, the screen wasn’t on and all it was doing was playing MP3s but the fact that it lasted this long is remarkable. I have not encountered any other notebook that could do this without the use of a secondary battery.

Final Thoughts

I’m sure a lot of folks would like to see other kinds of tests and while I would like to oblige, it simply takes way too much time considering how long these batteries last. Also, everyone has different usage habits and preferences on screen brightness. There simply are way too many variables to include in testing battery life. My worst case scenario test really is the most important test because you get a good sense of what you can expect at a minimum. The BP3T will give you nearly 4.5 hours and that’s extremely very good. If you only watch one 2 hour movie you will still have a good 3.5-5 hours left to do other work.

You can interpolate the kind of performance you would receive for doing everyday stuff. In my own experiences with the BP3T, I have worked completely on battery for 7.5 of continuous usage (with wireless on) with a reasonable amount of battery leftover. On average, I can use my TR for a good 5-6 hours without being worried. With the BP2T, I typically get 3.5-4 hours which is extremely good as well. A lot of it depends on what you’re doing and how bright you have the screen. I regularly adjust the screen depending on the application…not unlike the Power Panel feature which does that automatically.

All in all, Sony’s claims are actually pretty close this time and that’s a pretty amazing thing. I still don’t know how they came up with 7 or 11 hours. I would imagine that the TR could theoretically stay on that time if you run no programs at all. While not entirely practical it does lend some credence to what they are claiming.

While the battery tests are impressive, you should know that it isn’t just “Centrino” technology that makes this possible. Many modern batteries now have much more standard capacity compared to previous notebooks. That’s one of the reasons why it seems that this generation is so much better.

As always, you can leave questions and comments here or discuss it further in the Sony TR World Forums.








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