Sony claims the high-end unit, the PCV-RX490TV, "is the industry's first PC with integrated video recording," according to Rich Black, director of desktop PC marketing for Sony Electronics' Information Technology Product Division.
Sony offers a $US100 rebate on the $US2599 unit (monitor not included). The unit will first be available to users in North America.
It's powered by a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 and comes with 128MB of RDRAM (expandable to 512MB), an 80GB hard drive, both a 56Kbps modem and 10/100 Ethernet support, Windows Millennium Edition, and Microsoft Word 2002. A Pioneer DVD-RW drive, which supports DVD-R, CD-Rewritable, and CD-Recordable, is bundled.
The lower-level PCV-RX480DS, priced at $US2100, has the same basic hardware specifications as the 490TV but lacks a few of the high-end unit's tools and supports only DVD-ROM and CD-RW. If you want to spend less and you need slightly less power, try the $1700 PCV-RX470DS, with a 1.5GHz Pentium 4 and a 60GB hard drive. Both offer a $US100 mail-in rebate.
Sony is introducing two other units into its VAIO PC line, both with Advanced Micro Devices processors. The higher-end unit, the $US1100 PCV-RX450, uses a 1GHz Athlon CPU and comes with both DVD-ROM and CD-RW drives; a $US100 rebate is available for it as well. At the entry level, Sony offers the $US850 Duron 900-based PCV-J200, which also bundles a combination DVD/CD-RW drive. Both units come with 128MB of SDRAM, a 40GB hard drive, a 56Kbps modem, and 10/100 Ethernet support.
Separately, a 15-inch Sony LCD monitor sells for $US999 (it also has a $1US00 rebate offer), and a 17-inch CRT costs about $US300.
Diverse Video Tools
Sony has been putting a multimedia spin on its VAIO line of late. The VAIO PCV-J100 offers many of the video-management functions of Apple's iMac, and the Digital Studio desktops introduced in January feature both CD-RW and DVD drives and programs to lure multimedia fans.
The PCV-RX490TV provides a complete solution for those who want a PC with video editing and recording capability.
"For consumers who want the latest in entertainment and technology devices, the VAIO Digital Studio PC with Giga Pocket Personal Video Recorder allows them to do two things at once--watch TV on the PC and record TV programs onto a hard drive," Black adds.
It provides a Sony TV tuner card with hardware MPEG encoding that lets you plug in your TV cable feed. Analog video ports are conveniently located on the front of the unit so that you can also input video from your VCR or a standard video camera.
For digital input, you have two I.Link (IEEE 1394) ports, one in back and the other on the front of the unit. You'll also be able to burn your home videos onto a DVD that you can play in your living room, thanks to the bundled Pioneer DVD-RW drive (which also handles DVD-R, CD-RW, and CD-R). A powerful 1.7GHz Pentium 4 processor drives the unit, and a roomy 80GB hard drive provides plenty of room to store your video.
Although you can't edit out commercials, the bundled Giga software gives you much the same functionality as a TiVo or Replay personal recorder. You can program the unit to tape TV shows directly, or you can make selections from TV listings on a designated Web site tailored for your area. You can use Sony's DVgate or the included Adobe Premiere LE to edit video.
The next step down, the PCV-RX480DS model, has the same basic hardware specifications as the 490TV but lacks the TV tuner card and the Giga video recording software.