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Sony VAIO PCV-LX1

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  • Editors' rating
    7.3 Very good

Pros

  • Stylish, with good connectivity and removable media facilities.

Cons

  • Unremarkable performance for the price, especially with 3D graphics.

Who else but Sony would design a PC to turn heads, as well as deliver decent performance and a good set of features? The VAIO PCV-LX1 is a desktop PC (Sony's first in the UK) with a difference: it has a compact, vertical system unit and an LCD monitor with integrated stereo speakers. Although we've seen similar design to this before, notably from Apple, this PC has style without compromising functionality. Even the price, at £1,701 (ex. VAT) isn't outrageous, although you are paying a premium for the Sony brand and all the design expertise that goes with it.

The PCV-LX1 is by no means the most highly specified system on the market, being based on a 1GHz Pentium III and supplied with 128MB SDRAM, 32MB of which is shared with the SiS630 chipset's integrated graphics engine. This gives it a respectable but not outstanding Business Winstone 2001 score of 35.5. Sony has chosen to supply the PCV-LX1 with Windows ME installed, and although Windows 2000 Professional may give better performance, it would need more memory than this to achieve it.

Storage is provided by a Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 61GB 7,200rpm UltraATA/100 hard drive, with removable media handled by the Samsung SM-308 DVD-ROM/CD-RW combo drive. The combo drive reads DVD-ROMs at 8-speed and CD-ROMs at 32-speed, while CD-R media are written at 8-speed and CD-RWs rewritten at 4-speed.

The PCV-LX1 has all the connectivity options of a high-end VAIO notebook such as the FX209K, but generally with more of it. The right-hand side of the front fascia slides away to reveal a Type II PC Card slot, a Memory Stick slot, a USB port and a mini IEEE 1394 compatible i.LINK port. The inclusion of a PC Card slot is unusual on a desktop PC, but makes sense in the context of the PCV-LX1's target market: digital cameras and MP3 players generally use SmartMedia or CompactFlash media, adapters for both of which will fit into the PC Card slot.

Around the back there are three more USB ports, a standard-size IEEE 1394 (i.LINK) port, a VGA connector, a digital connector for the flat panel monitor, Ethernet, headphone, microphone and line-in sockets. One of the USB ports is on a PCI blanking plate, of which more later. The case is actually a sleeve for the workings of the PC, which you remove by taking out a single screw (which is blocked when the power cable is plugged in). Once this is out, you can use the fitted handle to slide out the system's innards.

Inside it's quite cramped, but there's still a single free DIMM slot and two PCI slots. As previously mentioned, the blanking plate for a single USB port occupies one of these expansion slots. If you'd rather use the PCI slot for something else, the cable connecting the port to the motherboard is easily disconnected.

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The LCD monitor is connected to the system unit with a single cable, and features built-in stereo speakers and a dual hinge stand. This supports a wide variety of monitor heights and angles, and should allow you to find a comfortable position. The 15in. LCD panel has a native resolution of 1,024 by 768.

You plug the keyboard and mouse into PS/2 ports either side of the monitor base. The keyboard is narrower than a standard desktop keyboard, having the cursor keys in the main block. In a typically neat design touch, the wrist rest folds up to form a cover for the keyboard when it's not in use. The mouse is pretty standard, but has a very big wheel compared with Microsoft's Wheel mouse.

The supplied software concentrates on still and moving images, with some music-related software thrown in. Adaptec's DirectCD and Easy CD Creator are supplied for use with the CD-RW drive. The rest includes DVGate, Media Bar DVD player, PictureGear , PictureToy, VisualFlow, MovieShaker and OpenMG Jukebox. An Adobe bundle of Premiere LE, Photoshop LE, GoLive and LiveMotion is also included.

You won't buy this PC if you want top-class performance or excellent value for money. It's not poor in either area, but this is definitely a premium piece of kit. Nor will you want to use this system for playing 3D games, as the integrated graphics on the SiS630 chipset are not up to the task. The removable media facilities -- both solid-state and optical -- are very good, however, as are the connectivity options. Most of all, though, this is a superbly styled desktop PC that would grace any executive office or living room.

Specifications

General
Type Personal computer
Recommended Use corporate business, small business
Product Form Factor Desktop slimline
Packaged Quantity 1
Built-in Devices stereo speakers
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Pentium III 1 GHz
Chipset Type SiS630
Processor Socket Socket 370
Cache Memory
Installed Size L2 Cache - 256 KB Advanced Transfer Cache
Type L2 cache
Memory
Form Factor SO DIMM 144-pin
RAM
Memory Specification Compliance PC133
Features unbuffered
Technology SDRAM
Data Integrity Check non-ECC
Storage
Interface Type ATA-66
Compliant Standards CD-DA, CD-XA, CDi, Kodak PhotoCD, Video CD
Type none
Read Speed 32x (CD) / 8x (DVD)
Write Speed 8x
Rewrite Speed 4x
Display
Widescreen Display No
Type LCD
Display Resolution Abbreviation XGA
Hard Drive
Capacity 1 x 60 GB
Interface Type ATA-66
Type HDD
Interface Class Parallel ATA
Installed Qty 1
Audio & Video
Memory Allocation Technology shared video memory (UMA)
Supported Display Graphics SVGA (800x600), SXGA (1280x1024), VGA (640x480), XGA (1024x768)
Storage Controller
Interface Type ATA-66
Type IDE
Bus Type PCI
Installed Qty 1
Input
Type keyboard, mouse
Optical Storage
Media Load Type tray
Drive Type CD-RW / DVD
Type CD-RW / DVD-ROM combo
Interface Type IDE
Processor
Installed Qty 1
Max Supported Qty 1
Upgradability upgradable
Type Pentium III
Manufacturer Intel
Floppy Drive
Type none
Storage Removable
Type none
Header
Brand Sony
Product Line Sony VAIO
Model PCV-LX1
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
Networking
Data Link Protocol Ethernet, Fast Ethernet
Form Factor integrated
Compliant Standards IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3u
Interface (Bus) Type PCI
System
Type personal computer
Miscellaneous
Compliant Standards Plug and Play
Monitor
Monitor Type LCD
Native Resolution 1024 x 768 ( XGA )
Graphics Controller
Form Factor integrated
Graphics Processor Shared Video Memory (UMA)
Video Interfaces VGA
Chassis
Form Factor desktop slimline
Manufacturer Form Factor desktop slimline
Built-in Devices stereo speakers
Manufacturer Warranty
Type 1 year warranty
Mainboard
Processor Socket Socket 370
Chipset Type SiS630
Audio Output
Form Factor integrated
Sound Output Mode stereo
Compliant Standards Sound Blaster 16/Pro
Speakers 2 x right / left channel
Printer
Type none
Physical Characteristics
Form Factor desktop slimline
Power
Type power supply
Compliant Standards EPA Energy Star
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition
OS Provided Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition
Type Adaptec DirectCD, Quick Time 4, Sony DVgate, Sony Media Bar, Sony MovieShaker, Sony PictureGear, Sony PictureToy, Sony VisualFlow, Adaptec Easy CD Creator, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe GoLive, Adobe LiveMotion, Adobe PhotoShop LE, Adobe Premiere LE, Drivers & Utilities, Norton AntiVirus
Video Output
Video Interfaces VGA
Video Memory
Memory Allocation Technology shared video memory (UMA)
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Service Included parts and labor
Full Contract Period 1 year

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