Not so long ago, desktop PCs acted chiefly as personal productivity enhancers. But these days, the machines are taking on more of the nuances of home entertainment centers, and even some of the trappings of fashion statements. If you're interested in a system that can handle more than one of these three roles, the Vaio VGC-LS1 -- Sony's latest "all-in-one" device -- can fill the bill relatively nicely. Yet surprisingly, despite the overall sleekness of this PC/TV combo unit, Sony's design engineers might have done a better job of dotting their "i's" and crossing their "t's" in several places.
Sony Vaio VGC-LS1
The LS1's main unit measures merely 21.0 x 14.5 x 2.0 inches, meaning that the all-in-one will fit compactly and even handsomely on your office desk, kitchen counter, or bedroom table.
All-In-Ones As Fashion Statements
All-in-one devices are nothing new, and Sony is no stranger to the notion of PC as fashion statement, either. Last year, Sony released the larger and clunkier Vaio VA11G all-in-one. Earlier industry precursors to these devices included so-called "lifestyle PCs," also with integrated flat-panel displays, such as Gateway's 610 series Media Center and Sony's own Vaio PCV-W510G and Vaio V100G, all issued during the 2004 timeframe.
On the whole, however, this year's LS1 is a lot swankier than its forebears. The LS1's 19-inch monitor is more generous even than the copious 17.5-inch LCD of the WR10G. The LS1's "Motion Eye" webcam, built right into the top center of the frame, introduces another visually classy but highly functional touch. This time around, the computer chassis is virtually hidden from view.
You do get a lot more than eye candy here. Beneath the covers, the LS1 provides the base technology needed for supporting a wide range of applications. In addition to a 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo T2400 CPU, the unit comes with a 250GB hard drive. A full 2GB of RAM is included, too -- a bonanza for video storage.
Take a closer look at the LS1's integrated LCD and chassis, and you'll find a vertically oriented DVD burner on the right side side of the LCD panel. On the opposite side of the panel are a USB 2.0 port; PC Card, SD, and ExpressCard slots; and headphone, microphone and Firewire connectors. The back panel offers three more USB 2.0 ports; an Ethernet port; an on/off WiFi switch; and a set of TV tuner connections: S-Video, composite video, stereo audio inputs, and antenna.
The LS1's IR-capable portable keyboard is innovative, too. The cover of the keyboard folds out as a wrist rest. Then, when you've finished typing, you can fold back the cover to protect the keyboard from dust and debris. The keyboard, mouse, and DVR remote control are all enabled for IR wireless.