Sony Vaio L-Series 3D Edition review: Sony Vaio L-Series 3D Edition

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The Good The Sony Vaio L-Series 3D Edition offers a complete set of digital entertainment features.

The Bad This system suffers from off-kilter pricing and subpar 3D image quality.

The Bottom Line The drastically overpriced 3D version of Sony's Vaio L-Series all-in-one is impossible to recommend due to more affordable competition that costs almost half as much for essentially the same features.

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5.5 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 4
  • Performance 4
  • Support 7

Sony's Vaio L-Series 3D Edition represents either a failure or unfounded optimism by Sony's computing division in terms of the price of this system according to the rest of the desktop market. Sony asks $2,499 for this configuration, which includes a rewriteable Blu-ray burner, and a 3D display and glasses, among other features, but a competing desktop from Lenovo, with faster performance and better quality 3D imaging, sells for $1,299, almost half as much. We liked a 2D Vaio L-Series we saw earlier this year, but even in the absence of the Lenovo system, we would have a hard time justifying such a price tag for this 3D model.

The 3D display is a new feature to the Vaio L-Series, and that, along with a few required 3D-enabling component upgrades represent the only major configuration differences between this model and the 2D version we reviewed this past April. We awarded the 2D version a respectable 7.3 rating in our review, which at the time had no worthy Windows-based competitors. The new, well-equipped Lenovo IdeaCentre B520 complicates the rating of that 2D model now, and makes it impossible for us to recommend the 3D Vaio L-Series.

Despite its value issues, the Vaio L-Series' has some features that we like, many of which carry over from the 2D model. We admire its clean looks and white styling. We're glad that it's equipped with an HDMI input and external display and volume controls, although Lenovo actually offers a better implementation of the latter. Instead of placing them on the side where you can't see what you're pressing, as on the Vaio, the various AV controls on the Lenovo all-in-one line the bottom edge of its display. And rather than physical buttons, they're all touch-capacitive and LED backlit, which fades away when the buttons are idle, preserving the Lenovo's appearance.

Sony Vaio L-Series 3D Edition Lenovo IdeaCentre B520
Price $2,499 $1,299
Display size/resolution 24-inch, 1,920x1,080 23-inch, 1,920x1,080
CPU 3.3GHz Intel Core i7-2720QM 3.4.GHz Intel Core i7 2600
Memory 8GB 1,33MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,333MHZ DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 540M 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 555M
Hard drives 3TB, 5,400 rpm 2TB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive Blu-ray RW burner Blu-ray/DVD burner combo drive
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)

Comparing the specifications of the two systems proves damning for the Vaio. For essentially half the cost, the Lenovo all-in-one provides a faster processor and a more robust graphics card than the Vaio L-Series. Sony can claim a larger, if slower, hard drive, a slightly larger display, and a rewriteable Blu-ray burner, where the Lenovo has only a Blu-ray player/ DVD burner combo drive, but those features are hardly make up for what the Sony system lacks in its other components, much less account for the price difference.

We don't list features like I/O ports, touch screens, Webcams, or other more secondary components in our side-by-side comparison above, but the Sony and the Lenovo systems are remarkably similar in those aspects as well. You'll find each system has an HDMI input, a separate HDMI output, a TV tuner, a Webcam, a touch screen and accompanying touch-specific applications.

Sony can claim a pair of USB 3.0 jacks and a mini FireWire 400 input, where the Lenovo has only USB 2.0 ports. The Vaio L-Series also has some additional touch input points along its bezel with some navigation command for zooming and scrolling through your Web history, although we find them neither as intuitive nor as responsive as we'd like.

As for 3D output, both Sony and Lenovo rely on Nvidia's 3D Vision glasses, the emitter for which is built directly into the bezel of each computer, but we found the 3D experience much better on the Lenovo IdeaCentre B520. Games and movies on the L-Series had distracting ghosting artifacts in many scenes. We're not overly bullish on 3D in general, but the fact that it just didn't look right on the Sony hurts this system's recommendation even beyond its poor value equation.

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

Adobe Photoshop CS5 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)

The Sony's comparatively slow performance to that of other higher-end all-in-ones adds another nail to this PC's uncompetitive coffin. It lags behind the Lenovo system on every test, making the discussion rather straightforward. We don't recommend this system from a value or digital entertainment perspective, and its subpar performance for its price gives us no reason to vary that opinion for its productivity outlook.

Cinebench 11.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
Lenovo IdeaCentre B520
Sony Vaio L-Series 3D Edition

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