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.
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 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.