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PCs Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Sony VAIO VGX-XL3 Digital Living System

$3,300 ex VAT

Manufacturer: Sony

Our Rating: We rate this 3 out of 5

Sony says its VAIO VGX-XL3 Digital Living System media-centre PC gives you "TV on your terms". But your terms may differ substantially from what this Windows Vista-based PC can deliver.

Sony says its VAIO VGX-XL3 Digital Living System media-centre PC gives you "TV on your terms". But your terms may differ substantially from what this Windows Vista-based PC can deliver.

The Sony VAIO VGX-XL3 ought to be the PC that finally makes sense in a living room, because it uses AMD/ATI's high-definition TV tuner card with a CableCard slot to decrypt scrambled, premium cable TV content. It also has a Blu-ray DVD recorder, HDMI output, and fairly brawny PC components.

The Sony VAIO VGX-XL3's attractive case and extremely quiet operation should make it a good fit for almost any home-theatre environment.

But this PC, which costs $3,300 (around £1,650 ex VAT) without a monitor or TV, has some aggravating limitations. For example, you can record TV programs to the device's Blu-ray drive - but not if you have a CableCard installed. (You can record programs to the hard drive whether you've installed a CableCard or not).

According to Sony's website, the Sony VAIO VGX-XL3 is a "full HD 1080 Media Center PC", but it can output only a 1080i signal. (Sony says that applying an nVidia graphics card update will enable 1080p, but it will also prevent DVD playback and cause other problems).

The included wireless keyboard has an integrated trackpad that we loathed: Its large buttons are recessed and very uncomfortable to push. As a result, we often resorted to mousing with a right forefinger and clicking with a left forefinger.

As a standard PC, the Sony VAIO VGX-XL3 performs adequately. It earned a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 86, which is about halfway between the marks posted by value PCs we've tested recently and the marks posted by power PCs.

But Sony made the Sony VAIO VGX-XL3 powerful not so that it could accommodate spreadsheet analysis and internet browsing, but so that it would be responsive when handling demanding entertainment content.

Sony VAIO VGX-XL3 Digital Living System Expert Verdict »

Sony VGX XL301 Entertainment Centre reviews verified by Reevoo

Sony VGX XL301 Entertainment CentreScores 5.8 out of 10 based on 11 reviews
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 / 2.13 GHz
2MB L2 cache
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium
2x 250GB serial ATA hard drives
BD-RE - IDE optical drive
NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GTL PCI Express x16 - plug-in card
ethernet, fast ethernet, gigabit ethernet
1-year warranty
  • Build Quality: We give this item 6 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 5 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 6 of 10 overall

The Sony VAIO VGX-XL3 Digital Living System is a PC. And based on our experience with it, PCs still don't belong in the living room.

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