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Sony Vaio JS250J review: Sony Vaio JS250J

Sony Vaio JS250J

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

It might lack a touch interface, and it's certainly not a Nettop, but nonetheless, Sony's $1,099 20-inch Vaio JS250J reignites our enthusiasm for Sony's line of Windows Vista-based all-in-one desktops. No other Windows vendor offers an all-in-one with as many features for a comparable price, and although it can't surpass the raw performance of Apple's 20-inch iMac, we'd pick the Vaio for its versatility thanks to strong-enough benchmark scores and a Blu-ray drive, a rarity in all-in-ones at this price. The compromises to performance and expandability in buying an all-in-one instead of a traditional desktop remain for those hoping to replace an old midtower. Thanks to its multipurpose appeal, the Vaio JS250J makes those trade-offs the least painful of the systems in its all-in-one cohort.


Sony Vaio JS250J

The Good

Blu-ray drive a rarity at this price; best selection of features-per-dollar among Windows-based all-in-ones.

The Bad

Not as fast as an iMac; puny mouse.

The Bottom Line

Instead of succumbing to the latest fads, the Sony Vaio JS250J all-in-one PC stays the course pioneered by its models from last year, delivering capable performance and best-of-breed home entertainment features at a better price than its all-in-one competition. The Vaio JS250J will appeal to anyone in need of a multipurpose home PC.

The Vaio JS250J is the second iteration of Sony's Vaio JS all-in-one series. We reviewed the last model in September 2008, and we liked it so much we gave it an Editors' Choice award. We're not as enthusiastic about this new model because of its performance relative to its competition, but that's our only hang-up. We're also willing to bet that if you're shopping for an all-in-one PC, performance is not your first priority.

With no design changes to the JS250J from the old JS100-series, we'll only skim its appearance. You get all the basics of an all-in-one in Sony's design, which also comes in a few colors. A Webcam dots the top edge, the adjustable foot on the back lets you tailor the viewing angle within a reasonable range of motion, and though it lacks a slot-loading optical drive like several other all-in-ones, we'll gladly settled for the tray-based Blu-ray drive that pops out from the right side of the chassis.

We can think of a number of PCs that compete directly with the Vaio JS250J. HP's TouchSmart starts at $1,149 for a 22-inch model, and Dell's Studio One 19 has configuration options that can get its price tag up above $1,200 as well, despite its $699 starting price (our review unit for that system was a $1,024 configuration, for example). But regardless of the touch-input capabilities of some all-in-ones in this price range, we still find that screen size provides the best matchup in price and functionality. That leads us to Apple's 20-inch iMac, which starts at $1,199, just $100 more than the Sony.

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  
Dell Studio One 19
Gateway LX6810-01
Sony Vaio JS250J

The Sony has a few advantages over the iMac, namely its Blu-ray drive and a slightly larger hard drive. Apple maintains a dramatic performance edge on multitasking, largely, we suspect, because of the Mac OS X's low operating overhead compared with Vista. We also suspect that the Sony lags on Cinebench because it has only a 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo chip; the iMac has a 2.66GHz chip, which is enough to give it the minor boost reflected on that chart. In general, we suspect most of you will be satisfied with the Sony as a productivity tool at home, and the Blu-ray drive sets it apart as a small-space entertainment device. Apple lacks Blu-ray capability altogether, but if you need an all-in-one for pure performance, the iMac's edge over the Sony is clear.

Unlike Sony's higher-end all-in-one, the Vaio LV series, the JS is relatively straightforward with its inputs and outputs. Between the rear panel and the left side of the Vaio JS250J you get five USB 2.0 ports, a single FireWire input, headphone, microphone, and analog out jacks, as well as an optical S/PDIF output and an Ethernet jack. All standard stuff, and although professional image editors might miss the FireWire 800 port you find on every Mac, consumer photo enthusiasts will appreciate the SD Card and MemoryStick Pro media card slots.

Sony throws a wired keyboard and too-small mouse in with the JS250J. All but the most petite-of-grip will want to replace the mouse quickly, but the "chicklet" keyboard is a well-designed knockoff of the Apple keyboard. Upgrade options include easy memory access via a removable door on the rear panel, and more complicated access to the system's guts if you pry off the numerous rubber screw caps on the back of the system and get busy with a screwdriver.

We won't bother to compare the Vaio JS250J's power consumption relative to the 20-inch iMac, mostly because Apple's 24-inch all-in-one uses less power than this Sony. The Vaio is still within the EnergyStar threshold, so it could be worse, but unlike the 24-inch Vaio LV250B, the JS250J doesn't even have a discrete graphics card to excuse its extra power draw.

Juice box
Sony Vaio JS250J  
Off (watts) 1.21
Sleep (watts) 4.36
Idle (watts) 39.7
Load (watts) 101.7
Raw (annual kWh) 174.0043
EnergyStar compliant Yes
Annual energy cost (@$0.1135/kWh) $19.75

Annual energy cost (dollars)
Dell Studio One 19

Among the glut of programs Sony includes with the JS250J (none of which load at start-up, thankfully), you'll find a Vaio Control Center and Data Recovery tool, useful for maintaining and protecting your software. We're glad to see those programs, if they're not exactly distinctive. Also boring, if serviceable, are Sony's support policies for this system. You get the standard one-year parts-and-labor coverage, alongside 24-7 toll-free phone support and a reasonable amount of support information on Sony's Web site.

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System configurations:

Sony Vaio JS250J
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E5200; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS integrated graphics chip; 500GB, 7,200rpm hard drive.

Apple iMac (20-inch, 2.66GHz)
Apple OS X 10.5.6; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 2GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 9400m integrated graphics chip; 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive

Apple iMac (24-inch, 2.66GHz)
Apple OS X 10.5.6; 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 4GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 9400m integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive

Dell Studio One 19
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium SP1; 2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E5200; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 9400m integrated graphics chip; 320GB, 7,200rpm hard drive.

Gateway LX6810-01
64-bit Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.3GHz Intel Core 2 Quad CPU Q8200; 8GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 3650 graphics card; 640GB, 7,200rpm hard drive.


Sony Vaio JS250J

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 6Support 7