Sony Vaio L Series
It’s even more expensive than the iMac, but Sony’s L Series all-in-one is packed with audio-visual goodies.
The 24-inch touch-sensitive display provides full HD resolution along with the same X-Reality noise-reduction image processing technology that Sony uses in its Bravia HD TV range to soup up highly compressed streamed standard definition footage. The result is a sharp, detailed image with vivid colours – although at this price it really ought to be a full 27 inches in size.
There’s a slot-loading Blu-ray player, along with HDMI input and output so that you can connect the L to a larger screen or plug in a games console. I was also pleased to find that its Freeview tuner supports HD broadcasts, and it worked very well as a TV on my desk while I was writing these reviews. The chunky 55mm thick screen panel also houses a surprisingly respectable 2.1 speaker system, which came in handy for playing music while I was working too.
That impressive set of features is also backed up by a fair amount of power. You can get a Core i5 model for £1199, but my test unit cost £1599 with a Core i7 running at 2.4GHz, 8GB of memory, a 2TB hard drive and Nvidia GeForce GT 640M graphics. That’s more than powerful enough to handle some serious gaming action, along with video- or photo-editing applications – it’s just a shame that the 24-inch screen leaves it looking rather overpriced.
More Info Sony
There’s something quaintly retro about the LX830, with its little plastic legs and the large speaker grilles on the front, and it’s certainly a more modest proposition than most of its all-in-one rivals.
The touch-sensitive screen is a small-for-the-class 23-inches in size, although it does provide 1080p resolution with a bright, sharp image for watching video or browsing the web. There’s a Freeview tuner – annoyingly SD only – along with an HDMI input so that you can plug in a games console or DVR.
The Onkyo speakers surprised me by actually producing a decent amount of bass, but it’s a shame that the LX830 only has a DVD drive rather than Blu-ray. I’m not convinced that touch-sensitivity adds much to a screen this size either – you really need the extra screen space of a 27-inch display before touch-controls start to feel comfortable.
The PC side of things is fairly modest too. My “12M” review unit had a Core i3 processor running at 2.5GHz, 4GB of memory and a 1TB hard drive, and costs £800 bought direct from Toshiba. That’s expensive for an i3-based machine, although it’s about £100 cheaper if you shop around online. Its 7200rpm hard drive does perk things up a bit. But that’s about as far as it goes on the PC side of things – there’s no separate gaming graphics card, and the LX830 really works best as a kind of household terminal for the web, music and video, rather than as a workhorse PC.
More Info Toshiba