Sony VAIO L117FX/B: 24-inch Multitouch PC Doubles as an HDTV
By David Murphy
PCWorldDec 11, 2009 2:55 pm PST
At a Glance
Beautiful 24-inch multi-touch display
No eSATA port for external hard drives
Sony’s 24-inch all-in-one remains king of the All-in-One hill, delivering strong performance, a Blu-ray burner, and lots of ports. But it’s not cheap.
Like the VAIO LV180J all-in-one that it replaces, the new VAIO L117FX/B has great performance, a Blu-ray drive, an HDTV tuner, a media center remote control, and a gorgeous 24-inch display. But this time around, Sony has included a multitouch screen, Windows 7, and a design that’s sleek and modern.
The VAIO L117FX/B starts at $1300; we tested a high-end, $2000 (as of December 8, 2009) configuration. At that price, you could score a standard tower desktop that has greater performance and upgradability, but such is the nature of all-in-one PCs.
This Vaio ratchets up the Intel processor to one step past that of the 2.33GHz quad-core chip found in the Gateway One ZX6810-01–a $1400 23-incher that also has a multitouch screen and a TV tuner (but no Blu-ray). However, despite its combination of a 2.66GHz Core 2 Quad Q8400S processor, 6GB of DDR2-800 memory, and a 1TB hard drive, this Sony VAIO in some ways doesn’t surpass the Gateway in performance.
Both systems earned a WorldBench 6 score of 105, the best general performance by an all-in-one without an Apple logo. For comparison–as tested using 64-bit Windows 7 and Boot Camp–the $2200 Apple iMac (27-inch/Core i7) scored 128 in WorldBench 6, while the $2000 iMac (27-inch/Core i5) notched 123.
The VAIO also delivers strong gaming performance for an all-in-one, but falls behind the Gateway and the iMacs. Still, its frame rates of 69 and 41 frames per second in our Unreal Tournament 3 tests (at 1024 by 768 and 1680 by 1050 resolution, respectively; high quality) make it better suited for gaming than most all-in-one-desktops.
The VAIO’s picture quality is as lush in its saturation as it is strong in its contrasts within a scene. That’s partly thanks to the screen’s glossy finish, which does much to amplify the perceived richness of the images–almost too much. It’s very easy to catch a reflection of yourself in this display, let alone any nearby light source. Meanwhile, the built-in speakers definitely sound better than your average laptop. It won’t shock and awe you, but it’s a sweeter sound than what most competing all-in-one desktops can offer.
External port connections are extensive. The side of the screen has two USB and a FireWire 400 port, plus separate slots for a Memory Stick and a standard SD card. Three more USB ports are on the back, along with one optical audio output, a gigabit ethernet port, an RF connector, an HDMI input, and a composite video input. Sony clearly wants this system to become an essential part of your living room setup, which is possible to do in a wireless fashion thanks to the VAIO’s integrated wireless-N connectivity. An included Blu-ray reader/writer rounds out the system’s high-definition multimedia capabilities. Except for a faster connection standard like eSATA, it’s difficult to think of other pertinent connections that the VAIO could offer. On the other hand, you may wish for more upgradability: You could upgrade the hard disk in the previous VAIO all-in-one, but this time around you’re limited to notebook-style RAM upgrades.
The bundled keyboard and mouse are mostly generic, but are styled to match the VAIO’s dark color and straight edges. They’re both wireless, and the keyboard has extra buttons to access PC functions such as volume controls, sleep mode, and zooming. The keyboard can also tuck away in the gap provided beneath the display.
Sony’s VAIO VPCL117FX/B matches the cheaper Gateway One ZX6810-01 in general performance, and both have a TV tuner. The VAIO is larger (a 24- versus a 23-inch multitouch screen) and includes a Blu-ray reader/writer. But the Gateway comes out ahead in gaming performance, and it costs $600 less. If money is not an issue, however, then by all means feel free to splurge.