Sony VAIO L Series all-in-one 3D PC

This PC has glasses-free 3D, but is expensive

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Sony VAIO L Series
  • Sony VAIO L Series
  • Sony VAIO L Series
  • Sony VAIO L Series

Pros

  • Generally good specifications
  • Glasses-free 3D is novel

Cons

  • Underpowered for 3D gaming
  • High price

Bottom Line

Sony's premium VAIO L Series is a high-powered, entertainment-focused all-in-one PC. It's got a Core i7 CPU, oodles of hard drive space, and a Blu-ray drive for watching movies. The autostereoscopic 3D screen is a novelty which adds another dimension to watching Blu-rays, but the computer isn't powerful enough for 3D gaming. It's hard to recommend this PC over the superior Dell XPS One 27 or cheaper HP Omni 27 though.

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The Sony VAIO L Series is the company’s only desktop PC. It’s a 24in all-in-one, with a Full HD screen that supports glasses-free 3D. A third-generation Intel Core i7 means plenty of grunt, and the VAIO L has a big hard drive and plenty of ports.

Sony VAIO L Series: Design and setup

The Sony VAIO L Series is one of the best-looking all-in-ones we’ve tested. Its solid, monolithic look is attractive, and the inch-thick bezel is a glossy black that adds to the contrast of the 24in screen.

The stand is simple but solid, with two cylindrical legs that extend forwards slightly past the body of the VAIO L. The screen can tilt with a good range of motion, from a slight downwards tilt to around 30 degrees upwards.

There are buttons built into the VAIO L’s top and right-hand sides, for power and various menu options. There are also touch-sensitive menu controls built into the PC’s lower bezel. The Sony logo in the lower centre glows white when the monitor is turned on.

The Sony VAIO L Series is well equipped for an all-in-one PC when it comes to ports and connectivity. All you need to plug in for the VAIO L to work is the power, which is piped in courtesy of a bulky AC power brick. Wi-Fi b/g/n is supported, as is Wi-Fi Direct.

A total of six USB ports (three 2.0, three 3.0) are arranged across the side and rear of the PC, and there’s Ethernet as well as microphone and headphone output jacks. HDMI input means a device like a media streamer or set-top box can be connected and use the Sony VAIO L as a monitor, and there’s also a HDMI output to connect a secondary external monitor.

The 24in, Full HD 1080p screen of the Sony VAIO L Series is a capacitative touchscreen, and it also has glasses-free 3D capability. It's generally a good screen, and there's a lot of adjustment through Sony's on-screen menu system — it's closer to a TV in its adjustment options than a computer monitor.

The display does have one noticeable downside, though — when you're viewing a white background, you can make out the fine hexagonal gauze that is responsible for the VAIO L's glasses-free 3D. It's not a huge problem, but if you're using the VAIO L for browsing Web pages, or to write a document — like this review, for example — the honeycomb filter can be distracting.

Sony VAIO L Series: Performance

The Sony VAIO L Series has solid specifications. It’s got a 2.3GHz Intel Core i7 processor from the latest Ivy Bridge line-up, 2TB of hard drive space, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and a Geforce 640M graphics processor. These specs are pretty high-end for an all-in-one PC, but we would have liked to see a better graphics card used to make the VAIO L more versatile for gaming.

The Sony VAIO L Series was a good performer in our productivity tests, with its Core i7-3610QM quad-core processor completing our Blender test in 20 seconds. iTunes converted 53min of WAV files to MP3 in 43 seconds. Both of these test results are very good, and reflect the ample power of the VAIO L’s modern Ivy Bridge CPU.

A 3DMark06 score of 10132 and a 3DMark11 score of P1939 how the Sony VAIO L Series’ mid-range performance means older games should run acceptably, but newer ones will struggle. The Geforce 640M graphics card is more at home in a notebook, but the thin nature of all-in-one PCs means more powerful cards aren’t feasible. Modern games are possible at moderate resolution and quality settings, but playing a modern first-person shooter at the screen’s native resolution of 1920x1080 pixels in high quality is out of the question.

The Sony VAIO L will only enable the glasses-free 3D mode, which it detects automatically, when 3D content is being output at the screen’s native Full HD resolution. This means 3D gaming with any modern game is effectively impossible — with the system struggling to play modern games at 1080p, the doubled performance hit of 3D is inadvisable.

Sony VAIO L Series: 3D

The autostereoscopic screen of the premium model in the Sony VAIO L Series range is an interesting thing — it uses the webcam to track the viewer’s head, adjusting a mesh gauze in the LCD panel to display one image for one eye but not the other.

The setup process for the 3D is a little involved — we had to run through it a few times to get the 3D setup properly. After that, you’re on your own ; you can use the Sony VAIO L to view a library of 3D photos that are pre-loaded onto the device, or watch a 3D Blu-ray movie using the pre-installed software.

Everything is managed through the simple VAIO 3D Portal, but we found it was largely a novelty experience. You have to sit between 60 and 80cm from the screen for the webcam to track your face and for the 3D to work, which means no lying down or leaning back. You also can’t use the system with more than one face, so you’ll be watching 3D movies on your own.

If you’re happy to sit up and close to watch a movie, though, the 3D effect is generally pretty good. We’d definitely rate passive 3D and active 3D higher than glasses-free at the moment, but there is a definite extra depth to 3D Blu-ray content when viewed on the VAIO L.

Sony VAIO L Series: Conclusion

The Sony VAIO L Series is a good all-round all-in-one PC. Its glasses-free 3D screen makes for an interesting novelty when watching 3D Blu-rays, although it’s not usable for gaming. It’s expensive in the top-of-the-line 3D configuration, though — Dell’s XPS One 27 is more machine for a cheaper price, and the alternative HP Omni 27 and Apple iMac are cheaper.

If you like the Sony brand, and want a 3D-ready PC, the VAIO L Series does an adequate job.

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