Gross pricing irregularity aside, the VAIO TP25 misses other opportunities. The worst is its lack of 802.11n wireless networking, which would smooth out the transmission of HD video across your home network. Instead you get standard 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi. It also has only a 500GB hard drive, which is the same size as the drive in the TP20, and will fill up quickly with recorded HD video. There's also no way to easily get inside the TP25 to upgrade the drive yourself.
As much as we can't recommend this system, we will give Sony credit for a few things. It made a point to cut down on the trialware compared with the TP1, making the TP25's Windows desktop much cleaner overall. The wireless keyboard and its touchpad worked generally well. The keyboard design is also innocuous enough that we wouldn't mind it sitting on our coffee table (it's no Logitech diNovo Mini, however).
For support, the VAIO TP25 has a bit more going for it, although it is also not perfect. The manual is generally helpful and gives you information on most basic connections, although we had to dig into the graphics driver to get the TP25's video aspect ratio matchup with that of our Samsung LN-T4061F display, and Sony's manual provided no help in this regard. The online support info is also not yet ready for this system, although we assume Sony will populate that content shortly. The warranty will cover you for one year, and you do get 24-7 toll-free phone assistance, both of which meet the industry standard.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Sony VAIO TP25 Home Theater PC
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100; 3GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8400M GT; 500GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drive
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.4GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT graphics card; (2) 1TB 7,200rpm hard drives
Apple Mac Mini
Apple OS X; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 1GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Intel GMA 950 integrated graphics chip; 120GB 5,400rpm Hitachi hard drive
Dell XPS 420
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600; 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM, 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8600 GT graphics card; two 320GB 7,200 rpm Western Digital hard drives
HP Pavilion SlimLine S3200t
Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E4500; 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 8500 GT; 500GB 7,200rpm Samsung hard drive
Gateway FX7020 Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.3GHz AMD Phenom 9600; 3GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT graphics card; 500GB 7,200 rpm Seagate hard drive
Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition; 3.2Ghz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (overclocked); 2GB (max) DDR II SDRAM; 512MB NVidia GeForce 8800GT; 500GB, 7,200 rpm