CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. How we test computers

Sony Vaio LV250B review: Sony Vaio LV250B

Sony Vaio LV250B

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

Sony's new Vaio LV250B all-in-one remains just as feature-rich and versatile as the debut version, the LV100 series. This new model features a new CPU, generally better specs, and a lower price than the LV180J we reviewed back in September, all of which is great. Even better, Sony stays true to the original's formula, which combines a powerful all-in-one PC with a unique array of home entertainment capabilities. You do pay a premium for the extra features on this system, and if all you need is a fast all-in-one with a large screen, an iMac is a more cost-effective bet. But for those who want to use a computer as a full-fledged home entertainment system, no other vendor offers a PC this well-suited to the task.


Sony Vaio LV250B

The Good

VESA wall mount compatible out of the box; dedicated HDMI input lets you input video from other devices; strong application performance.

The Bad

Not a great multitasker.

The Bottom Line

You can find more-cost-effective large-screen all-in-ones for general productivity, but Sony's Vaio LV250B is our favorite for home entertainment. Loaded with unique features geared toward digital media convenience, this system will meet the needs of anyone looking for a PC to use as an entertainment hub.

The Vaio LV250B has a number of features that recommend it for home entertainment duty. Yes, its basic design looks like that of any all-in-one. Look closer and you'll find a number of design tweaks that help it stand out.

First, Sony is the only all-in-one we know that can work out of the box with a VESA-compatible wall mount. It's also the only all-in-one we've seen with an HDMI input. A dedicated button lets you switch the display signal between the computer and whatever HDMI device you may have connected, and the transition is seamless with no loss in picture quality. That feature in particular opens the Vaio LV250B up to connecting HD video cameras, video game consoles, and other devices with unmatched ease.

The HDMI Select button lets you change the video display to any connected HDMI video source.

By working just like an HDMI-equipped video monitor, the Vaio LV250B makes up for what it might lack compared with other all-in-ones. HP's TouchSmart in particular has a larger 25.5-inch display, that series' hallmark touch-screen capability, and offers a similar core configuration for about the same price as this Sony, including a Blu-ray drive. We can see an argument for choosing the HP in favor of the Sony because of the TouchSmart's larger screen, not to mention its touch-based input. For our money, we'd trade a bit of screen size for the raw functionality provided by the Sony's HDMI input.

If the HP TouchSmart competes with the Vaio LV250B in its screen size and home entertainment features, Apple's 24-inch iMac makes a much better comparison for computing. The two are actually very close in core features. Apple has a larger hard drive, but Sony's CPU, graphics chip, and Blu-ray drive are all more robust. We'd argue that those advantages, as well as the Sony's HDMI input capability, more or less account for the Vaio's $400 price premium.

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  
Gateway FX6800-01e
Dell XPS One 24
Sony Vaio LV250B
HP TouchSmart IQ816

Sony also distinguishes its all-in-one by opting for a desktop CPU, where most of its competitors use slower mobile chips. Dell's Core 2 Quad-based XPS One 24 is an exception. Our results show that chip serves the Dell well enough compared with the Sony and its other Windows-based competition on our multitasking test, but Apple has a firm grip on the crown for multitasking overall.

Otherwise, the Sony's fast dual-core chip serves it well on applications that are particularly sensitive to core processing speed. That actually makes plenty of sense for a PC designed primarily for media consumption. You might convert a large batch of files from one format to another on this PC, and for that the fast CPU is welcome. For more general productivity oriented tasks, especially when you're switching between many applications, either the quad-core-based Dell or the hyper-efficient iMac are better bets.

We won't spend a lot of time here going over the Vaio's various ports and inputs, not least because those features haven't changed between this model and the old one. The short of it is that you get a lot of them. Sony included both digital and analog TV tuner inputs, making this a viable ad hoc DVR. An analog AV input and a separate S-Video input expand your peripheral options beyond those equipped with an HDMI out. You also get the obligatory array of USB 2.0 and FireWire 400 ports, although we hope to see Windows all-in-ones vendors make eSATA a standard feature for faster external data transfers.

Among the Sony's many ports (and cable wrangling instructions), you'll find inputs for two TV tuners as well as an HDMI port.

The Vaio LV250B also includes the standard all-in-one lineup of a Webcam, wireless networking (in this case fast 802.11n), as well as a built-in Bluetooth receiver for the wireless mouse and keyboard. We like the sleek, Apple-inspired keyboard well enough, mostly because it has a workable touch pad for remote cursor control. The boxy mouse is also serviceable.

Sony also throws in a few nice touches to help make the LV250J easier to use. Both the remote control and dedicated buttons for display power and volume control let you control the system like a normal television. A pair of media card slots on the side of the system stands ready to accept digital images or other data.

Given its large screen, its desktop components, and its discrete graphics card, it's perhaps not surprising that the Vaio LV250B uses more energy than any other all-in-one we've tested. Despite its seeming inefficiency, this system is still within the EnergyStar ballpark. And although $29.40 a year is hardly prohibitive, it's interesting to see that you do indeed pay a cost for the extra horsepower in this system.

Juice box
Sony Vaio LV250B  
Off (watts) 1.5
Sleep (watts) 3.5
Idle (watts) 58.1
Load (watts) 164.6
Raw (annual kWh) 258.9894
EnergyStar compliant Yes
Annual energy cost (@$0.1135/kWh) $29.40

Annual energy cost (dollars)
Dell Studio One 19

Among the glut of programs Sony includes with the LV250B (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.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:

Sony Vaio LV250B
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E7400; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive

HP TouchSmart IQ816
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9600 GS graphics card; 750GB 7,200rpm hard drive

Apple iMac
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 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive

Dell XPS One 24
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT graphics card; 750GB 7,200 rpm Samsung hard drive

Gateway FX6800-01e
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.67GHz Intel Core i7 920; 3GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4850 graphics card; 750GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive


Sony Vaio LV250B

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 7Support 7