Sony Vaio VPCL21S1E – Sandy Bridge Core i7 chip
All-in-ones are hard to upgrade, so it makes sense to go for the fastest, most powerful machine. With a quad-core Sandy Bridge Core i7 chip and 8GB RAM, it looks on paper, as if that’s the Sony Vaio VPCL21S1E.
All Sandy Bridges are not born equal, though. The Sony’s Core i7 CPU is actually a mobile chip – it’s fast, but there are processors from the Core i5 desktop range that outpace it (notably, the one in the iMac). Still, clock rates aren’t everything. Coupled with another speedy mobile chip (the Nvidia GT540M, with 1GB of video memory), the i7 will breeze through current HD games and multitask with a quiet confidence.
Sony Vaio – gesture control
The Sony Vaio VPCL21S1E’s display is rich and sexy, with a touch-sensitive black border, making it easier to access the edges of the screen. This ameliorates Windows 7’s clunky touch controls, and also enables some nice gesture commands. The plastic bezel looks slightly naff but houses an array of controls and connectors, which let you use the VPCL21S1E as a monitor for other devices. The built-in sound isn’t great, so external speakers are a must.
VPCL21S1E – Blu-ray drive
In terms of build quality, the Vaio is reassuringly robust, featuring a sturdy metal stand – a must, as it tips the scales at more than 11kg. Many of the buttons you expect to find on the keyboard – for controlling media, inputs, and Wi-Fi for instance – are instead hidden in the edges and top of the display. The Vaio also has another trick up its sleeve - no doubt you expected a Blu-ray player in the latest Sony hardware, but the VPCL21S1E goes one better with the inclusion of an optical drive which can also write files to Blu-ray discs.
With a host of touch-controlled apps built in and excellent Blu-ray performance, the Sony is a superb machine – if you can afford it. If not, you might want to consider the Core i5 version for £1200, which sacrifices a few specs to make the lower price bracket.