Toying With The VAIO VGC-LV1S

With a bit of spare tinkering time to hand over the Christmas period I decided to take a look at the VAIO VGC-LV1S. Sony sent me a pre-production model which showed off all the design considerations of the expensive but feature packed all-in-one but, alas, none of the performance.

In fact, graphical performance was outright diabolical which is something I wouldn’t expect from a production unit. However I can’t hypothetise whether or not this performance really is indicative of the final units and thus will exclude any graphical performance tests from this coverage.

I also encountered related issues including terrible flickering pixel and line artifacts appearing on the screen, and the screen occasionally fading to black through a spectrum of bizarre colours and patterns. All of these point to a severely duff graphics chip.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that a desktop that can’t even reliably run World of Warcraft in low detail at 800×600 resolution would recieve an avalanche of complaints in pretty short order. Thus, I’ll give the VAIO VGC-LV1S the benefit of doubt and assume that my experiences were unique and the result of a faulty GPU in the pre-production unit.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to the features of the VAIO VGC-LV1S. The LV1S is not much differently priced from the 24″ iMac but manages to incorporate a wealth of fairly key features that make it a prime candidate for wall mounting and, in fact, it pretty much trumps the iMac as a media center in every respect.

The most obvious of these is the integrated Blu-Ray drive, something that remains dissapointingly absent from all Macs despite it being clearly established as the king of HD. A supplied, full featured remote makes the Blu-Ray player exceptionally usable, allowing you to kick back in bed and watch a movie without needing to pick a fight with a mouse and keyboard if you need to pause and pee. By contrast the tiny, tiny Apple remote is another misguided attempt at painfully unecessary minimalism (I never use mine, and I’m not sure if I could even find it).

The remote, and wireless keyboard/mouse combo of the VGC-LV1S both have their recievers integrated seemlessly into the all-in-one unit. You could attach a USB dongle or make use of bluetooth should you, for some reason, wish to replace them but the keyboard is actually pretty good and incorporates a track-pad that allows you to use it easily on your lap without fighting with the mouse. It’s not pretty, however, and the mouse is decidedly boxy and unaesthetic as if it were designed for robot hands and not human ones.

Perhaps one of the most key features when considering the VGC-LV1S is the fact that it contains a solitary, but incredibly rare and almost unique HDMI input. This means that the lovely, 1080p, 24″ display can be shared with a Playstation 3, Xbox 360 or any other HDMI-capable device you might want to install in your bedroom. This makes the VGC-LV1S an absolutely prime candidate for wall-mounting.

Combine this lone HDMI input with a cheap 3-to-1 switching box and you’ve instantly got a very usable display for a whole plethora of home-entertainment equipment.

On the internal hardware side of things, the VGC-LV1S actually has two, very easy (compared to the iMac, and probably many desktop PCs) to access, 3.5″ drive bays. This means you can potentially fit up to 2gb of storage into this compact system, that’s absolutely reams of space for media.

Overall the VGC-LV1S is a very functionality rich and well polished system, the likes of which one can only expect from Sony. It’s a shame I was unable to do any reliable performance tests!

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