Product: Sony VAIO L Series All-in-One Touchscreen
We've quickly become unabashed users of multitouch user interfaces in our daily digital lives. It's become amusing to note we sometimes expect every screen and surface to respond like an iPad. But gesture touchscreens are not always the best solution, yet when used properly, they free up the user from the tether of cords and cables and let natural motion come into play. The Sony VAIO L Series All-in-One Touchscreen is aimed at bringing a bit of that touchy-feely business onto the desktop, and with a large 24" display and an austere-handsome profile that would make Dieter Rams smile, we put a 30 day review unit through the paces to see if the shoe fit into our digital lifestyle.
The desktop's slim profile makes it an extremely space-savvy option. All we had to worry about was a single power cord, thanks to a wireless mouse/keyboard.
The Sony VAIO L Series All-in-One Touchscreen is big, black and beautiful. It's also like a Berkeley poetry major: extremely reflective. We could practically use it as our bathroom mirror in daytime conditions when turned off or when a dark image was on display; the issue faded into the background once the Windows startup screens finished and we got to a brighter desktop or other app interface. Colours were rich and the display can also be used in conjunction with an HDMI source thanks to an HDMI input (of course Sony recommends their PS3 as a partner). This would indeed be the dream machine for a well heeled college kid or as the media centerpiece for a small space bachelor pad if Windows is your preferred OS flavor, in no small part due to the integrated NTSC / ATSC TV tuner l which gives users the TIVO-like experience through their PC.
Our review unit came with Windows 7 Home Premium, an Intel Pentium 2.7GHz E5400 processor, 4GB of RAM, NVIDIA GeForce G210M graphics card and a 320GB hard drive (we would prefer a terabyte, considering this model is aimed as an all-in-one media solution). Alongside the HDMI input, 5 2.0 USB inputs, a Blu-ray drive, a built-in VGA camera with face-tracking ability, a slightly uncomfortable wireless VAIO mouse we'd replace in an instant, and truly epic wide full-size keyboard come stock.
Now to the most notable feature of the VAIO L Series All-in-One: that beautiful, expansive touchscreen. At 24" and 1920 x 1080 resolution, the screen reproduces photographs and graphics equally well: impressively. Text can be input via keyboard or with the screen itself, though we quickly realized text inputting on a vertical surface isn't ideal. Where the touchscreen became more evident as an advantage was while browsing online and flicking across sites (especially good for sites like Tumblr and Apartment Therapy) where input isn't needed except to press "next". The integrated Microsoft global map software was also engaging using multitouch gesture; we also tested using the touchscreen to play some of the simple demo games installed as a technology showcase. The touch display worked well but also left us with the realization a desktop touchscreen is mostly unnecessary compared to a portable computing counterpart, where the smaller screen size and manageable form allows for better interaction with the screen (think kiosk versus iPad). At certain points while using the VAIO L Series, we felt a bit too much like national news broadcasters during a Presidential race, manipulating information in grand fashion when a mouse and keyboard would have more efficiently sufficed. At the same time, we could see how a touchscreen humanizes interaction between simpler actions with digital objects (i.e. gaming or sorting/perusing photo files) and how novel navigating online and on the desktop with a mouse can be.
At $1199.99 the Sony VAIO L Series All-in-One Touchscreen is neither horribly expensive nor charmingly affordable. It's smack dab in the middle between a luxury 27" iMac and a Dell bargain desktop. But the clean design, beautiful screen and more than acceptable specs make it a reasonable option for anyone looking to consolidate their computer and home entertainment devices into one single display. And of course, any Sony Playstation 3 owner could simply argue one would be properly complementing hardware with the VAIO to complete a tasteful tech mood (throw in some Bowers & Wilkins speakers and you're like a Bond villain).
Pros: Modern simplicity of form, beautiful screen, responsive touchscreen, all-in-one 24" screen solution is ideal for small space dwellers
Cons: Screen is super reflective in daylight; mouse seems to have been designed to fit hands with right angles instead of curves.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.