Apart from being the best looking all-in-one this side of the Apple iMac, the real attraction of the 24in multitouch Vaio L is its spec sheet. Unlike rivals like the Asus EeeTop ET2203, the Vaio L is powered by a 3GHz dual core desktop processor, which can be upgraded to a quad core chip for even more speed.
Because this capable CPU is coupled with an nVidia GeForce 240 graphics processor, the Vaio L is one of the only all-in-ones which can handle heavy lift tasks like video transcoding and gaming. At a recent demo of Ubi Soft’s forthcoming multitouch strategy game, Ruse, it was this machine that the developers naturally chose to show off on.
Pricey and loud
The downside to all that extra computing power is that the Vaio L is a lot more expensive than most of its competitors, and several times the price of an similarly equipped desktop tower.
The all-in-one multitouch Acer Aspire Z5610, for example, is almost as powerful but £600 less. And if you’re happy to forgo the multitouch screen, a 27in iMac comes in for a few pounds cheaper and has over twice as many pixels for a sharper resolution and more usable desktop space.
The latter would be our choice, if only for the better build quality displayed by the aluminium Apple case. The Vaio L looks good enough, but the monitor surround feels a bit flimsy for such a high-price machine.
What’s worse, though, is that the fast components inside the Sony chassis require more cooling than the lesser-equipped alternatives. The Vaio L isn’t unbearably loud, but the fan noise is definitely more noticeable than on the Asus EeeTop ET2203, for example.
Got it all
Still, if you can live with the background whir, this Sony has got it all, from a slinky little Bluetooth keyboard for day-to-day working to a Blu-ray drive and DVB-T tuner for entertainment. The screen quality is superb, too, even if it’s not the most frictionless surface we’ve so far tested multitouch on.
There are also some well thought out features that are missing from other all-in-ones, like a separate power button for the monitor so that you can turn the screen off while listening to streamed music or downloading a file overnight.
There’s no getting around the price, though, and there’s just not enough going on in the world of multitouch desktop apps right now to justify this premium. Sorry, Sony.