All was as advertised. I was very impressed with the workmanship on the hilt, however I have no idea why a dark lord of the sith would make a saber that is so difficult to hold (ie control box). Any way so I walked up to my nearest shopping centre and grabbed some Energizer max batteries.
My only other saber is a Luke ROTJ and this one does make it feel like an oversized toy. The blade has much better light diffusion than the Luke, however obviously is not as bright. It is still quite bright though.
Sound. When I switched the saber on the ignition sound scared my six and seven year old daughters so much they ran from the room screaming, and they have played with my Luke many times before. Hopefully it will have the same effect on my wife when I'm drinking beer in front of the TV and she wants me to clean the house. The sound was not quite as loud as the Luke, but more than adequate. I noticed a slight delay for the ignition/retraction sounds compared to the LED scroll.
Unfortunately I don't have any of the earlier Vader sabers to compare to, but this is a fine saber. I have a digital camera, but having the computer abilities of a caveman I can't work out how to host them.