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Sony VAIO L Series review

Posted by Dark Legion 12/05/2009

Sony’s recently announced VAIO L Series touchscreen PC is a thing of beauty. A stunner of a flat-screen all-in-one multimedia computer that doubles up as a HDTV.

Does it have the raw processing grunt and enough must-have new features to justify its £1300 price tag? There are plenty of far cheaper all-in-ones (or net-tops) already flooding the market, for around half that price.

Big and beautiful

You’d be hard-pushed to question the L Series’ drop dead gorgeous looks. The highlight is the glorious 24-inch widescreen X-black LCD touchscreen that’s fantastic for showing off your pictures, playing around with Google Earth or catching up with the latest BBC iPlayer HD offerings. Not to be outdone by the iMac, the stainless steel chassis is streamlined and screams quality. With no wires to speak of, you get a wireless keyboard and mouse in the box.

Powered by the processing grunt of the Sony’s 3Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 and combined with the nVidia GeForce Go 7600 graphics chip it’s alongside Apple’s latest iMac range in terms of sheer speed and ability to run multiple applications. It barley flinched with multiple documents open in Word, Excel and Powerpoint along with Flash-heavy sites. HD video processing does slow down the machine a tad. VAIO ‘Movie Story’ is perfectly fine for the odd bit of home video editing, but not really designed for the amateur Tarantino-wannabe.


Making Windows 7 fun?

The ultra-high resolution touchscreen control is the best way we’ve seen to date to show Microsoft’s new touchy-feely features in Windows 7. With the OS’ large, clear icons, a quick touch on the screen will have you opening apps, favourites and jump lists.

It’s the touchscreen panel that sets the VAIO L apart. You start to see, and feel, how much fun it is to organise your personal photos and music libraries by a flick of your finger on the screen. Zoom in and out of pictures much quicker and more intuitively than you have previously been able to.

A few minutes playing around on Sony’s new touch-controlled Media Gallery or the (Microsoft Surface PC-powered) Photo Globe app and you begin wonder how you have lived for the last ten to twenty years of your life in front of a computer screen without this. The ultra-intuitive touchscreen trumps other similar PCs currently out there, such as HP’s Touchsmart. It’s very much like having a huge iPhone as your desktop monitor.

On top of the fun and new touch-navigation – with the possibilities really as endless as users’ and developers’ imaginations – the widescreen X-black LCD display’s “Multiple Lamp Technology” shows off photos and HD movies with such colour and clarity that it immediately put our old work monitor to shame.

Blu-ray bundled

The VAIO L Series does the job of both a high-end HDTV and a powerful PC, with a HDMI port to plug in your PS3 or Xbox 360 and a whopping 500GB hard drive to save a ton of movies.

Control your music or TV and Blu-ray viewing via the bundled IR remote control or with Sony’s VAIO Gate drag down menu bar, which is incredibly easy and a joy to use on a large touchscreen. Just make sure you have a box of tissues nearby to keep your screen squeaky clean, as smudging is inevitable. And should you prefer a more ‘traditional’ form of PC control you can sit back on the sofa with the bundled wireless keyboard perched on your lap, because while the touchscreen is unquestionably a hugely fun and impressive new feature, until Sony and other third party developers design lots more useful bits of software to make use of it, the keyboard is still going to be the primary form of controlling your digital life for the foreseeable future

Finally, if you wish to use the VAIO L as a TV in your bedroom or lounge or study, then you can even hang it on your wall. There’s no real need for any external audio equipment either, as the machine’s in-built speakers provide loud, crystal clear audio for any small space, plus a Freeview TV tuner and both analogue and HDMI input ports for those that wish to get the most out of the display’s capabilities for movies, console gaming and showing off your photo albums to the folks.

There are two flavours of the new Sony VAIO L Series: the VPC-L11M1E/S and the beefier VAIO VPC-L11S1E/S, with pricing ranging from £999 through to £1299 for the top-spec model - featuring a 3Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, Blu-ray drive and a DVB-T television tuner.


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