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Sony VAIO J114FX (21.5 inch) review: Sony VAIO J114FX (21.5 inch)

Sony VAIO J114FX (21.5 inch)

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home, Windows PCs, cooking (sometimes), woodworking tools (getting there...)
Rich Brown
5 min read

We can't muster much enthusiasm for Sony's underpowered, underequipped $969 Vaio J114FX all-in-one. Sony wants you to find its combination of a 21.5-inch, touch-sensitive display and a Blu-ray drive worthy for home entertainment, but for just $30 more you can get a more broadly capable all-in-one from Gateway with Blu-ray and a larger screen. We're also frustrated that Sony has left off an HDMI input, a revolutionary feature it pioneered on its previous generation all-in-ones. Sony's last few all-in-one desktop efforts have been impressive, but this one is uncompetitive. Skip it.

Sony VAIO J Series VPC-J114FX/B - P P6000 1.86 GHz - 21.5" TFT

Sony VAIO J114FX (21.5 inch)

The Good

Pleasing design.

The Bad

Small screen, slow performance, and weak features for its price; no HDMI-input.

The Bottom Line

We like the idea of a Blu-ray-equipped all-in-one with a small footprint for home entertainment, but Sony badly missed the mark with the Vaio J114FX. In trying to make this system focused, Sony cut too many features. The result is that this PC is a terrible value relative to other all-in-ones in its price range.

We have no problems with the overall design of the Vaio J114FX, and in fact it's a far more polished-looking all-in-one than any of Gateway or Acer's recent efforts. Where competing all-in-ones have opted for chrome and plastic accents, Sony's all-black review is understated with graceful curves. We can think of few places where you couldn't put this system on prominent display.

Although we like the look of this system, there's no getting around the fact that the Vaio J114FX has a small screen for its price. Sony isn't alone in looking stingy next to the 23-inch Gateway and Acer systems in this price range, but at least Apple and HP have either robust internal components or a lower price to make up for their smaller display sizes. True, neither Apple's $1,199 iMac nor HP's $899 Touchsmart 300-1120 have Blu-ray drives. Unfortunately for Sony, Gateway's ZX6900-01e, a 23-inch all-in-one for $999, does.

Sony Vaio J114FX Gateway One ZX6900-01e
Price $969 $999
Display size/resolution 21.5-inch, 1,920x1,080 23-inch, 1,920x1,080
CPU 1.86GHz Intel Pentium P6000 2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530
Memory 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 128MB (shared) Intel GMA 4500 integrated graphics chip 64MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 500B, 7,200rpm 640GB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive Blu-ray/DVD-burner combo Blu-ray/DVD-burner combo
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Compare the Gateway side by side with this Vaio and you'll see a fairly large value discrepancy. The Gateway features a larger display, a Blu-ray drive, a significantly faster CPU, and a larger hard drive. Worse, we've seen the Gateway for $899, making it an even better deal, depending on the retailer. We suppose we can see an argument for the Sony if you want an all-in-one with a smaller footprint, but that still leaves the Vaio J114FX with underwhelming components for its price.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Acer Aspire Z5700-U2112
Gateway One ZX6900-01e
HP TouchSmart 300-1120
Sony Vaio J114FX

Damningly, the Vaio J114FX comes in last on each of our performance benchmarks. Considering it's more expensive than the $899 HP TouchSmart 300-1120, this is a particularly bad show from Sony. This system is most definitely not meant for productivity.

We also found that the Vaio J114FX is not very well suited to playing HD video online. Its Blu-ray disc quality was fine. It also handled HD content from NetFlix well enough, and had no trouble with 1080p movie trailers in QuickTime. Even after we updated Flash to 10.1, though, the Vaio could only muster choppy playback in 1080p YouTube streams. Frankly, that's unacceptable for a $1,000 computer, especially one with home entertainment as its lone worthwhile purpose.

Hopefully by outing the Vaio's subpar components and slow performance we've given you enough reason to stay away from this desktop. If you need more convincing, we'd point to its connectivity options, which are among the weakest we've ever seen in an all-in-one. You get a four USB 2.0 jacks, two analog audio jacks, and an Ethernet port on this PC. That's it. There's no video-in or -out, no digital audio or alternate data ports. The lack of an HDMI input is particularly hard to fathom given that Sony included this feature on its higher-end all-in-one, and you can now find HDMI inputs on even some budget all-in-ones. You do get an SD Card slot, as well as a slot for Sony's copy-protected MagicGate cards, but we'd gladly trade both of those for HDMI input.

Lastly, it seems almost silly to mention, but this PC does indeed have touch input. It works well enough, and though Sony's touch-specific programs aren't anything special, the requisite media organization and playback software behave as expected.

Juice box
Sony Vaio J114FX Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.53
Sleep (10 percent) 1.85
Idle (25 percent) 20.47
Load (5 percent) 73.2
Raw kWh 98.19
Energy Star compliant Yes
Annual power consumption cost $11.14

Annual power consumption cost
Sony Vaio J114FX
Acer Aspire Z5700-U2112
Apple iMac (21.5-inch, spring 2010)

We can at least credit the Vaio's power consumption, which comes in as the most modest among its competition in absolute terms, anyway. It's not overly efficient relative to its performance, but we'd of course rather have typical efficiency than nothing. Not every vendor gets this right, but Sony has with this system.

Support for this system is relatively typical, although some of you might appreciate the dedicated support button on top of the system. It brings up Sony's built-in system diagnostic tools. You also get a standard one-year parts and labor warranty, as well as 24-7 toll-free phone support. Online you'll find live Web chat, driver downloads, and FAQ pages.

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System configurations:

Sony Vaio J114FX
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Pentium P6000; 4GB 1,066MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 HD integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive

Acer Aspire Z5700-U2112
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive

Apple iMac (21.5-inch, Summer 2010)
Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.4; 3.06GHz Intel Core i3; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 4670 graphics card; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive

Gateway One ZX6900-01e
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive

HP TouchSmart 300-1120
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.7GHz AMD Athlon X2 235e; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3270 integrated graphics chip; 750GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive

Sony VAIO J Series VPC-J114FX/B - P P6000 1.86 GHz - 21.5" TFT

Sony VAIO J114FX (21.5 inch)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 4Performance 4Support 7