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Sony has stepped out of the box with its new Vaio PC that redefines the way we look at desktops. The new Sony Vaio LM is a Bravia-lookalike panel PC that can be placed on top of a table or mounted on the wall for ease of use, and can be used to watch or record your favourite TV show with its integrated TV tuner.


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The Sony Vaio reminded us of the Sony Bravia LCD TV models, with the unit sporting a clear glass frame and brushed aluminium bezel. This PC sports a 19-inch wide WXGA monitor with a native resolution of 1440 x 900. There are no buttons found up front as the power button and display off button is located on the top right portion of the screen.

Sony has placed all of the ‘computer’ aspects of the Vaio behind the screen. One can find the Vaio’s PC Card slot, ExpressCard slot, Memory Stick Pro card reader, SD card reader, Headphone jack, and Wi-Fi indicator on the left side of the unit. A FireWire (IEEE 1394) port, Microphone in, Audio in, Optical out, and three USB ports are located at the back of the unit, while a Hybrid TV tuner, A/V Input, S-Video in, AC port, Ethernet port, Modem port, and Wi-Fi toggle (On/Off) hidden behind the removable back casing. A slot-load DVD drive and two additional USB ports can be found at the right of the screen, making it easy for users to hook up any device unto the Vaio.

The Vaio LM can either be mounted to the wall or placed on top of the table. And in order to adjust the unit, users must move its neck until that perfect viewing angle is achieved.

 


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Sony Vaio’s Wireless Mouse and Keyboard
Performance:

Both the unit’s keyboard and mouse are wireless and uses a total of 6 AA batteries (4 for the keyboard, 2 for the mouse). The Vaio has no charging ports for its input devices, so we advise users to purchase rechargeable batteries or use other wireless input devices available in the market.

The main ‘cover’ of the keyboard instantly converts into a wrist rest and reveals the flat and well-spaced keys. The volume control, shortcut keys (Windows Media Center, Video Optimiser, and Eject button), as well as a power indicator is located on top of the keyboard, while other functions like brightness settings and zoom in can be accessed by pressing the function button and one of the ‘F’ keys. It is just too bad though that the mouse does not have any battery indicator, making it difficult to know when to replace its batteries.

 


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The unit is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo T7250 (2 Ghz) processor and uses an Nvidia GeForce 8400M GT GPU graphics card, making it suitable for gaming. The PC comes with 250GB of storage and 2GB of RAM, and runs Windows Vista Home Premium.

The multitude of connectivity options allowed us to connect our external storage devices, cameras, and even our music player with a few more ports to spare. The TV tuner was a nifty addition to the Vaio PC as we were able to view or record TV shows using Windows Media Center. The unit also comes with an IR remote, making it easy to navigate through the interface. The built-in 1.3 megapixel camera can be moved up or down with its ‘Motion Eye’ switch on top of the screen. Considering its size, the built-in speakers were able to provide us with a good audio output and did not sound tinny at all. The unit also comes with an 8cm to 12cm disc adaptor, allowing users to play recorded discs from their digital cameras straight to the PC.

This Vaio Panel PC also has a 90-day subscription to Norton Internet Security, a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office 2007, a couple of proprietary Vaio programs to assist users (Recovery Center, Update, Data Restore Tool, and Control Centre), and other multimedia programs (Vaio Photo and Video Suite, Vaio Camera Capture Utility, Picasa, Interwin WinDVD for Vaio) for ease of use.

 


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Conclusion:

The Sony Vaio VGC-LM18G is one of those PCs that can get things done and can entertain you as well with its TV tuner and multimedia capability. And while this panel PC has its share of problems (no charging dock for the keyboard and mouse, limited memory card slots, inconvenient location of keys), it looks great enough. If you value design and aesthetics, can afford the $3500 price tag, and can compromise a little on features, then you’ll be pleased with this PC.

Product Specifications:

Hardware

  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor T7250 (2.00GHz)
  • Processor System Bus: 800MHz
  • Cache Memory: 2MB
  • Main Memory: 2GB DDR2 SDRAM (Upgradeable up to 4GB), 2 SO-DIMM slots.
  • Hard Drive: 250GB Serial ATA, 7200rpm
  • Wireless LAN: IEEE 802.11b/802.11g
  • Optical Drive: Reading Speed: DVD+R: x8 (Single Layer), x6 (Double Layer) / DVD-R: x8 (Single Layer), x6 (Dual Layer) / DVD+RW: x8 / DVD-RW: x6 / DVD-ROM: x8 / DVD-RAM: x5 / CD-ROM: x24 / CD-R: x24 / CD-RW: x24
  • Optical Drive: Writing Speed: DVD+R: x8 (Single Layer), x4 (Double Layer) / DVD-R: x8 (Single Layer), x4 (Dual Layer) / DVD+RW: x4 / DVD-RW: x6 / DVD-RAM: x5 / CD-R: x24 / CD-RW: x16
  • Graphics Processing Unit: NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GT notebook graphics processing unit (GPU)
  • Total Available Graphics Memory (Max): 895MB
  • Display: 19.0″ Wide (WXGA+:1440×900) TFT Colour display (Clear Bright High Colour LCD)
  • Interfaces: USB 2.0 x5, 4-pin i.Link (IEEE 1394) S400 x1, ExpressCard/34 Slot x1, PCMCIA Type I/II (Cardbus Support) x1, RJ45 Ethernet x1, RJ11 Modem x1, Headphone Jack x1, Line-In jack (stereo mini) x1, Microphone Jack x1, Memory Stick Slot x1, VHF/UHF Connector x1, Optical Out Connector x1, Infrared Receiver x1
  • Built-In Camera: Effective Pixels: 1280×1024
  • Modem: V.92 and V.90 Compliant
  • Ethernet: 1000Base-T/100 Base-TX/10 Base-T
  • Audio: DSD compatible high quality sound chip: “Sound Reality” (Intel High Definition Audio compatible), 3D audio (Direct Sound 3D support), Built-in stereo speakers, Subwoofer speaker for bass frequencies, Built-in monaural microphone
  • Keyboard/Input Device: VGP-WKB5IE Wireless keyboard: Approx. 19 mm key pitch, 2.7 mm keystroke, 99 keys / VGP-WMS1 Wireless Mouse

Software

  • Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium (English version) with Traditional Chinese Language Pack
  • Sony Applications: Click to DVD 2.6, VAIO Movie Story 1.0, VAIO Content Importer/Exporter 1.2, VAIO MusicBox 1.0, Setting Utility Series 3.0
  • Other Applications: Windows Media Center, Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0 (Installer), WinDVD for VAIO 8.0, Windows Photo Gallery, Picasa, Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 (Installer), Roxio Easy Media Creator 9.0, Norton Internet Security 2007 (Free 90 day trial), 60-Days Trial Version of Microsoft Office Professional 2007, ArcSoft Magic-i Visual Effects 1.0(Installer)
  • Technical Support: 12 months

Unit Dimensions (WxHxD): 574 x 376 x 169mm
Keyboard Dimensions (WxHxD): 338 x 31.3 x 159mm
Weight: 8.3kg
Warranty: 12 months standard

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Sony Vaio LM Panel PC VGC-LM18G | $3,499 |  | www.sony.com.au

For: Classy exterior; Built-in TV tuner; Wireless keyboard and mouse; Sound output; Wall mount option; Comes with a remote; Good screen output
Against: No charging dock for keyboard and mouse; Sony could have placed a multiple card reader instead of a Memory Stick Pro and SD card reader
Conclusion: Sony was able to create a panel PC that is both a performer and a looker.

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