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Sony Vaio VGX-XL302 review: Sony Vaio VGX-XL302

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The Good Nearly silent; Blu-ray burner; dual tuners; good overall spec.

The Bad Blu-ray not fully integrated into Media Center software; dual tuner arrangement could be neater; high price.

The Bottom Line The Sony Vaio XL302 is a hugely impressive Media Center PC. It packs everything you could want into its large frame, including dual TV tuners and a Blu-ray drive. But for £700 less you can get the very similar, Blu-ray-less Sony Vaio VGX-XL301

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.3 Overall

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Sony's latest Media Center PC has pretty much everything you could ask for in an entertainment machine, including dual digital TV tuners, a decent graphics card and a Blu-ray drive that lets you watch the latest blockbuster movies in high definition. But is it worth the wallet-bashing asking price of £1,700, especially as it doesn't even come with a screen?

Strengths
Sony has produced some neat media PCs in the past, but they've all lacked one important ingredient -- a second TV tuner. Thankfully this issue has finally been addressed with the XL302. It comes with two hybrid (analogue and digital for Freeview) tuners, so you can record one channel while watching another, or record two shows at the same time.


You get the standard Windows Media Center remote control with the XL302

The PC runs Windows Vista Home Premium so you get to use the slick new version of Windows Media Center. There's plenty of space for storing TV shows, music and pictures on the twin 250GB hard drives that have been configured as a single, massive 500GB disc.

While the Intel E6400 processor may no longer be top of its class in terms of performance, it still has more than enough poke to keep everything ticking over at a pleasing pace, especially as it's backed up by a generous 2GB helping of memory. Even the Nvidia GeForce 7600GTL graphics card can handle the latest games when you turn the detail down a touch.

The real stand out feature, though, is the Blu-ray drive. Not only can this play the latest blockbuster high-definition movies, but you can also use it to burn your own Blu-ray movie discs or back-up data on to 25GB single layer or 50GB dual layer blanks.

Another major plus is the noise from this PC, or rather the lack of it. When running, it's almost silent, no mean feat for a machine with such a healthy specification.

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