The Gadget: Sony's Vaio LV All-in-One PC is the followup to the beautiful (and powerful) Vaio LT that came out earlier this year. This time around, they gave the LV an improved mounting base, slimmer bezel, integrated TV tuner and most importantly, HDMI-in. Has the LV one-upped the LT?
The Price: $US2800 (as tested)
The Verdict: The LV took everything the LT did well, and added more things to make it even better, without sacrificing much. In terms of the exterior improvements, the overall size of the computer is cut down due to the omission of the see through bezel in the LT. And instead of just a spring loaded foot for the computer to rest on like before, the LV now sits on an articulating arm, which is attached to a base. This makes adjusting the angle of the LV easier than before. And for those who plan to use this away from the desk, the wireless keyboard now has a built-in trackpad, which makes couch surfing all the easier.
But the real new appeal here is the addition of an HDMI-in port, which allows your screen to work with the latest home theatre and gaming consoles, independently of the PC. And it pretty much works as advertised. You plug in your HDMI product, switch the input source over from the computer, and voila—your Vaio LV is functioning as a TV. I tested a Roku Netflix Box and Xbox 360 with the LV, and both worked without a problem. The picture looked really sharp, and there was no visible artifacting caused by the display. It should be noted that the HDMI does not work with windows at all, so importing HD content from HDMI products is not a possibility.
As a computer, the Vaio LV performs well, with a few slight spec bumps over the LT. But it's quick, responsive, and is able to take on a decent workload. We even tested Tivo PC on the LV, and it functioned without so much as a hiccup on the hardware side. But there's nothing radically different about the Vista experience this time around, so if you're still curious, check out the LT review.
All in all, The LV really is an improved semi-upgrade from the Vaio LT. It's not different enough that recent LT owners should be cursing the stars, but those deciding between the LV and the still available LT should go with the LV. [Sony Vaio LV on Giz]