So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Sony Sony VAIO Panel PC VGCLT28G
Just short of true greatness
- Blu-ray writer, fast processor, latest networking connectivity, good screen
- High cost, no HDMI-output, difficult to transport even short distances
The Sony VAIO Panel PC VGCLT28G is certainly a feature-packed unit. Sporting a Blu-ray writer and the latest connectivity options, the main thing holding the unit back is its very high price tag. But if you feel the need to streamline your home entertainment environment, and you’re wealthy enough to care about capital gains taxation, then this may be the unit for you.
Price$ 4,299.00 (AUD)
If you're looking for a flat-panel PC that is powerful, adaptable and supports the latest in connectivity and disc formats, then it's hard to go past the Sony VAIO Panel PC VGCLT28G. Featuring a Blu-ray writer, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 draft-n wireless connectivity and a 22in screen, the main thing preventing a buying frenzy is the very hefty price tag and the bizarre lack of HDMI-output.
Having recently reviewed the HP TouchSmart PC IQ500, many of the components we yearned for in that unit can be found in the LT28G. Although neither device features a high-definition screen, both come close, with a native resolution of 1680x1050. This means that Blu-ray movies are played with excellent clarity using the slot-loading optical drive on the right-hand side of the device. High-definition television broadcasts are also viewable thanks to the two built-in hybrid digital (DVB-T)/analog TV tuners.
For buyers hoping to use the VAIO as a media centre and watch Blu-ray movies on their larger LCD or plasma screens, the lack of HDMI output is a major setback. This is particularly odd when older Sony products, such as the VAIO VGN-FZ18G, have both a Blu-ray drive and HDMI.
Those who wish to use the Sony as a 'one-stop shop' for their entertainment and computing needs are definitely assisted by the unit being designed with wall-mounting in mind. The excellent range of features means that users can use this computer to eliminate their television or home entertainment PC if they wish.
The lack of a carrying handle and the total weight of over 9kg with the power supply included mean that moving the unit is a constant chore. To move the device around a house will mean gripping it by the plastic border or the hinge while struggling to keep $4299-worth of Panel PC from crashing to a premature death.
Unlike this unit's cousin, the Sony VAIO VGC-LJ25GB , there is no touch-screen functionality. However, the screen performs relatively well despite some reflectivity issues in well-lit environments. Although its viewing angle is wide enough for a small number of viewers seated in front of it, it may struggle in a lounge room with a number of people in a variety of positions. The 1.3-megapixel camera that is embedded in the top bezel of the screen can be rotated vertically.
The unit has an excellent 2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 processor, 2GB of DDR2 RAM and a 500GB hard drive that spins at 7200rpm.
Our benchmarks reaffirmed our confidence in the hardware, with WorldBench 6 returning a score of 85. This means that hardware-intensive tasks such as video editing can be handled without too many difficulties. In our iTunes test, where we strain the processor by converting 53min of .WAV files into 192Kbps MP3 files, the Sony returned a time of 82sec, which is a solid score and what we expected from this CPU.
The graphics processing for the LT28G is provided by an NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GT, which means that users wanting gaming performance will have to look elsewhere. With a score of 2607 in 3DMark06, this device will struggle to play modern games; even older titles such as F.E.A.R. will have trouble running above medium settings.
The unit offers Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11b/g/n wireless connectivity. The additional peripherals such as the keyboard and the mouse are wireless and work effectively, although changing the batteries for the mouse, keyboard and remote control will eventually become a chore.
A positive point is the inclusion of both a Type II PC Card slot and an ExpressCard/34 slot. This means that older expansion cards will be compatible as well as newer devices such as e-SATA expansion cards. Other ports include five USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port and an optical audio output connector.
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