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Sony revs its home entertainment desktops

Sony updates its desktop lineup

Sony announced updates to its two home desktops lines this afternoon, the VAIO TP2 Living Room Desktop, and the VAIO LT29U high-end all-in-one. If they look familiar, it's because each is an update to systems released in 2007. A quick rundown of the new models' specs, and we come up with more or less the same opinion of these systems as we had of the originals. The all-in-one is an expensive, if well-equipped niche product, and the diminutive TP series remains a shockingly bad deal when you hold it up to the competition.

The LT29U retains its predecessors good looks. Sony

In our review last year of the LT19U, we commended Sony for the strong design of its all-in-one, which on top of its good looks included a VESA-ready wall-mount socket. We also liked its configuration that included a 22-inch display and a Blu-ray reader. The new LT29U keeps all of those features, doubles the memory to 4GB and also the hard drive space to 1 terabyte. Sony has also updated the processor to one of Intel's next-gen Core 2 Duo chips, and its taken the extra step of eliminating the adware we complained about in the first version. Sure, the price went from $2,999 to $3,300, but if you're in the market for such a system, chances are you're not going to sweat that extra $400 too much.

The new VAIO TP25E, now in black. Sony

The VAIO TP2 Living Room PC is another story. Sony has expanded the distinctive round PC family to included a high-end, all-black TP25E for $3,000, and a midrange white TP20E for $1,600. The former includes a Blu-ray reader, which is new to the TP family, as well as two external ATI Digital Cable tuners (aka PC-based CableCard). The TP20E includes only the Blu-ray reader. Both come with wireless networking capabilities and various other features, but they also look amazingly overpriced compared to HP's just announced Pavilion SlimLine s3300f, which for $949 includes a Blu-ray/HD-DVD combo drive.

Perhaps HD-DVD matters less now than it did a few days ago, but the fact is that you can get basically the same system from HP for $500 less that what Sony offers today. As for paying $1,500 extra for the higher-end model and the privilege of CableCard-based digital cable, let's just say that despite some success with CableCard, we're still not totally convincedit's a privilege.