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Sony VAIO TP1 Living Room PC – underpowered and overpriced

Thumbs Up:

Nice selection of home theater computer features; unique round design

Thumbs Down:

Overloaded with shovelware; overpriced as compared to its competitors.

The Whiz Kid Speaks:

The Sony VAIO TP1 Living Room PC is powered with 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5600 processor, Intel 945GM Express chipset, and 2GB DDR2 SDRAM. The operating system is Windows Vista Home Premium. The TP1 desktop has 300GB hard-drive and DVD±RW (±R DL) / DVD-RAM optical drive.

The VAIO TP1 has 56Kbps data/fax modem, 224MB Intel GMA950 graphics card, High Definition Audio sound card, and ATSC/NTSC TV Tuner card. The integrated graphics card supports high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) and Digital Visual Interface (DVI).

It comes with wireless keyboard with inbuilt touch-pad, remote control and radio antenna. The networking adapter supports Ethernet and Fast Ethernet standards; while the Wi-Fi supports IEEE 802.11 b/g wireless standards. The memory card slot supports Memory Stick Pro, Memory Stick Duo, SD Memory card, and Memory Stick.

The interfaces are 1×Audio – SPDIF output, 1×Audio / video – Composite video/audio input – RCA, 4×Hi-Speed USB – 4 pin USB Type A, 1×Network – Ethernet 10Base-T/100Base-TX – RJ-45, 1×Audio / video – HDMI – 19 pin HDMI Type A, 1×3.5mm stereo Headphones – Output – Mini-phone, 1×3.5mm Microphone – Input – Mini-phone, 1×Display / video – VGA output – 15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15), 2×TV antenna, and 1×IEEE 1394 (FireWire) – 4 pin FireWire.

The preinstalled software are 60days trial of Norton Internet Security 2007, Microsoft Office 2007 Trial, 90days trail of AOL Online, Microsoft Works 8.5, and Sony Click to DVD. Sony is providing one year limited warranty with phone technical support. The operational power consumption is 130watt and the TP1 desktop needs AC 120/230V power.

Accessories supplied inside the package are remote control, HDMI cable, A/V adapter, disc, HDMI-DVI adapter, remote control, radio antenna, power adapter, wireless keyboard, and user manual.

Razzle Dazzle:

The Sony VAIO TP1 Living Room PC is 3.6 inches tall, 10.6 inches deep and 10.6 inches wide and weighs 8.2 lbs. It is one of the stylish and compact desktop we’ve reviewed till date. The front panel preserves the minimalist aesthetic of the TP1 desktop. The back panel has plastic port cover attached by magnets that keeps it tidy after wrangling the cables.

Inside Dope:

$1600 priced Sony VAIO TP1 Living Room PC is an attractive round-shape desktop that is overpriced and underpowered. Sony calls it a Home Theater PC and designed it for average performance only. The TP1 suffers from few technical quirks and overloaded with more shovelware than on its competitors. It offers 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, Intel 945GM chipset, 32MB graphics chip and 2GB DDR2 SDRAM. You will get the same configuration from other companies in less $1000. To maintain the small enclosure, all these configuration options are of laptop version; while RAM is enough for such a desktop. Sony has only concentrated on the desktop design and shape rather than providing good configuration.

 

Sony VAIO TP1 Living Room PC-1

 

Actually, the Sony VAIO TP1 is a normal desktop for integrating the digital media files in the living room. If you need a living room PC for high-definition gaming, video, Internet and other activities, then we will recommend you to go for Velocity Micro CineMagix GrandTheater and Sony VAIO XL3 Living Room System. The VAIO TP1 can handle the normal tasks like recording television video content, playing iTunes library on home-theater, and watching standard-def DVDs.

The Dell Inspiron 531, the 531s, Velocity Micro ProMagix E2035, HP Slimline s3020n, the Pavilion Media Center m8120n provides same features as that of the Sony VAIO TP1 Living Room PC in less $1000. However, they all have only one exception of much better performance. The Slimline and the Dell 531s has small and compact living-room friendly design.

The Sony VAIO TP1 Living Room PC comes with a good range of accessories and components. It is able to playback standard-def DVD at 1080p format due to inbuilt HDMI output. However, this task excels through Windows Media Center that has overscan correction ability to overcome the image-scaling issues of the graphics card. This capability is not present in the default Windows Vista desktop. The latest Nvidia and ATI graphics cards are able to correct these over-scan issues.

The connectivity options of the Sony VAIO TP1 Living Room PC are integrated Wi-Fi adapter, optical output for digital audio, memory card reader slot, NTSC/ATSC TV tuner card, and other normal input/output ports.

The Sony VAIO TP1 Living Room PC ships with small wireless keyboard and Vista remote control. There is a touch-pad in laptop style on the keyboard, but Sony does not provide any software to tweak its sensitivity.

There are no visible latches, screws and other mechanism to access the internal components. It not only limits us with inbuilt components, but also make as dependent on service center for upgrade and other issues even after warranty period. Sony has provided limited preinstalled applications including Living Media and Living Browser. In contrast, the HP, Gateway, and Dell provide more preinstalled software.

Sony is providing one-year limited parts-and-labor warranty with its VAIO TP1 Living Room PC. The phone support is available from 8AM to 5PM PT from Monday to Saturday. The company has also published drivers, user manual and other resources online at its Web site.

Nitty Gritty:

The Sony VAIO TP1 Living Room PC is overpriced for its common mid-range features and cutesy appearance. We will not recommend this computer to purchase because you can get similar features in less $1000. If you are a big fan of its Roomba like shape then, buy an overpriced desktop – the VAIO TP1.

On the contrary, we will recommend you to check the HP Slimline s3020n, HP Pavilion Media Center TV m8120n, and Dell Inspiron 531s for your living room.

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