Price (RRP): $2999
Sony’s latest all-in-one desktop joins the fight from other manufacturers to unseat the market leading iMac. What Sony brings to melee is a display with multiple inputs, 3D and its Vaio computing heritage.
The first all-in-one with 3D to come across our test bench, Sony’s VPCL229FGB L series desktop features some well spec’d components capable of handling just about anything you or your family are likely to throw at it in the next couple of years.
Let’s start with the speed, because this computer has it in spades: a second-generation Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB RAM, NVidia’s GeForce GT540M graphics processor with 1GB of memory, plus 1TB of storage.
All of this computing power operates behind a 24 inch LED backlit LCD screen supporting 1920 x 1080, also known as Full HD 1080p. The screen supports a few multi-touch gestures, and there’s a 1.3 megapixel webcam built into the frame.
A Blu-ray drive is bundled in, but it’s not just for playing HD movies on disc. The Vaio VPCL229FGB allows you to burn Blu-ray discs too, making the machine suitable for video editors and those who want to backup to 25GB and 50GB writeable Blu-ray discs.
Connectivity-wise, this Vaio brings lots of options. The left-side of the computer houses two USB 3.0 ports, one small Firewire video port, headphone and microphone jacks, and a card reader capable of reading SD cards and Sony’s MemoryStick format. There are also three USB 2.0 ports on the back, as well as an Ethernet port for wired networking. Wireless networking is also taken care of, with the L series supporting the faster Bluetooth 3.0 standard and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n.
More than just a desktop computer, the VPCL229FGB also doubles as a monitor for connected video devices, including digital TV set-top boxes and games consoles.
To accomplish this, you’ll find both a HDMI port as well as composite AV ports on the back of the computer (above). If you want to export the VPCL229FGB’s screen to a larger-screen TV, there’s a HDMI-out port to do the job.
And then there’s 3D, with the VPCL229FGB bundling one pair of Sony 3D active shutter glasses and NVidia’s 3D Vision technology for games and watching 3D movies. Sony tells us that these glasses are compatible with its Bravia TVs.
Everything here sits inside of a plastic computer with a solid-metal stand. A few extra function buttons are provided on chassis of the Vaio, including a “web” button for surfing the web without having to switch the full computer on, volume, input selection, and a button to switch the monitor off when it’s not being used.
Taking the Vaio out of its box, it’s easy to see that the computer is well-built. Much like the iMac and every other all-in-one desktop, computing components are housed within the body of the screen, with the 24 inch display held up by a solid metal stand.
Plugging it in is simple, and there’s a large 19.5v brick powering the computer. Making the power separate from the body – in the way that notebooks do – means the main body of the computer tends to run cooler, making the computer safer to touch, which is especially useful given that this is a touchscreen computer with extra buttons on the frame. After a day of operation, the Vaio was certainly far cooler to the touch than the aluminium-wrapped iMac that is our usual workhorse.
For the most part, the touch experience is decent, making it easy to use Windows 7 without the need for a mouse. Pointing and clicking the smaller menu shortcuts can be difficult, but scrolling web pages and double-clicking desktop icons works a treat. You’ll still want a keyboard at your side, as the onscreen keyboard experience for Windows is slow and clunky.