CNET First Look
Sony Vaio L21SFXSony's Vaio L21SFX brings with it all of Sony's classic all-in-one tricks, as well as a few new ones in expensive package whose value falls just short of its price tag.
-Hi, I'm Rich Brown, Senior Editor for CNET.com. Today, we're gonna take a look at the Sony Vaio L21SFX. So, this is a high-end all-in-one PC. It costs about $1999 when you order it directly from Sony. Now, for that price, you get the large screen you see here, as well as a fast Intel Core i7 Sandy Bridge CPU. It comes with 8 gigs of RAM, a 2-terabyte hard drive, as well as NVIDIA's GeForce GT 540M mobile graphics chip. Now, both the CPU and the graphics chip are mobile parts, which means they are not quite as fast they could be compared to other all-in-ones in this price range. That said, the system is fast enough to handle pretty much whatever you wanna throw at it, and it even plays some games at decent image quality. Now, all that computing stuff is probably the least interesting part of this system. The thing we like most about it is its design. As you can see, this is an extremely clean profile, and Sony's done some interesting tricks to make this system look as good as it does. We like the pedestal base down here. It's nice and simple. And although it might be a little bit hard to get on camera, on the side here, you can see this angles back towards the back of the system. So, it creates, from even a pretty wide viewing angle, the illusion that the system is nice and thin. So as you see, this has a nice, big display, too. The resolution goes to 1920 x 1080, and it also has some touch features like most all-in-ones these days. You could touch the screen. You can drag icons around. You got a keyboard. It's all pretty intuitive. Beyond the display though, Sony's actually built some touch-sensitive points around the bezel. Touching the Vaio icon here for example launches an application, and you can actually set it to launch whatever application you'd like. You can launch the keyboard from the side. Down here, you've got forward and back buttons for when you're navigating the web. And on the side here, you've got zoom in and zoom out buttons for when you're looking at an image. Now, along with the touch input itself, the points in the bezel, as well as hard buttons on the system for the display menu, the volume, there's actually sort of a fragmented touch interface. So, it will take some getting used to if you use the system day to day. But overall, it's pretty effective, and there's not really much we can think to add in terms of specialized inputs. We might like to see a little bit more refinement, as well as some visual cues on the side to let you know what it is that you're pressing. But overall, we think Sony's done a good job integrating touch in the system beyond what we normally see. And the system is pretty straightforward for a high-end all-in-one otherwise, and it matches Sony's strategy of including lots of home entertainment features. So, on this side of the case, you can see there's a couple of USB 3.0 jacks, as well as basic audio inputs, FireWire, and an SD card slot. There's also a dedicated button down here that launches a built-in help application. Now, if the back looks a little rugged with worn-out stickers and things, that's because this is a review sample. So, it's kind of gone around a little bit. That said, you can still see there's a TV tuner input here. You've got 2 HDMI ports there: 1 for HDMI in to connect to a cable box or a game console; there's also an HDMI out if you wanna connect it to an HDTV or a secondary display. There's also video inputs here, as well as 3 more USB ports here. Now, if you take just a brief look at this side of the system, you can see there's the Blu-ray burner drive here, and you get all the buttons down here for the volume, display menu, as well as display power, which is nice and convenient. So, this system might not have the best bang for the buck in terms of computing performance, but overall, it's probably one of the better digital media systems out there. We can see it fitting seamlessly into a dorm or a den where it would work with other media components; or by itself as a stand alone entertainment device. So, I'm Rich Brown. This is the Sony Vaio L21SFX.