Sony’s price tag of $1,999 for it’s new Vaio L117FX wouldn’t seem so bad if Apple weren’t selling the new 27-inch iMac for $1,699. HP improved on some of the features of Sony’s earlier all-in-ones with its TouchSmart 600, but the Vaio L117FX is much more robust than the TouchSmart 600, making it a much better option. We’d be more excited about it if the price tag didn’t compare so badly with that of the new iMac.
The design of the Sony Vaio L117FX is an interesting between Sony’s previous LV and JS series. It has the same wall-mounting ability, HDMI input, and size as the LV, but has the front support in rounded-frame style and softer chassis design of the JS. The new design works all right a desktop, but when it’s wall-mounted, the front support is somewhat superfluous. You can’t detach the front support, like you can with the TouchSmart 600’s feet. There’s no difference functionally, but it look awkward when wall-mounted.
Sony has kept all the best features of their previous all-in-ones, such as HDMI input. This idea, first seen in late 2008, in the Vaio LV180J, has been borrowed by HP, Asus and Apple. To set themselves apart from their imitators, Sony has introduced a picture-in-picture feature in the Vaio L117FX. Any video source that’s HDMI-based can be connected to the Vaio, whether it’s a cable box or a game console, and you can watch both screens simultaneously or switch from one to the other. There’s definite appeal in, for example, getting work done on your PC while watching sports live in a small window.
As it’s based on Windows 7, the Vaio L117FX supports multitouch. It’s a bit pointless if you’re using it as a traditional desktop, but if it’s wall-mounted there are benefits. The Vaio includes the basic applications of Microsoft Surface, including a 3D globe and a few games, as well as Sony’s Media Gallery which lets you navigate digital media files, although there’s no major innovation such as with HP’s TouchSmart.
No matter how many new features the Vaio boasts, it doesn’t match up to the new iMac. Even though the iMax comes without quad-core PCU, Blu-ray player or TV tuner, its performance, low price, and and 27-inch screen give it a definite advantage. Although the Sony works as a digital media hub, or a system with decent performance, it loses out to the iMac on general speed. The Vaio will appeal to some for its blend of mediafriendliness and performance, but it can’t be given an overwhelming recommendation in the face of its competition.
The best feature of Sony’s Vaio L117FX connectivity options is the HDMI input, though the other ports are filled out pretty well. There are also composite video inputs, and at the back of the system an optical S/PDIF digital audio output. At the back are also 3 USB 2.0 jacks, and there’s a TV tuner input. There are 2 more USB 2.0 inputs on the left, as well as a mini FireWire 400 input, analog audio jacks, and a media card reader.