Sony has gone all-in on the concept of the home entertainment PC with its new Vaio L-Series all-in-one desktop. Yes, it has Intel's new third-generation (Ivy Bridge) Core CPUs, but that's almost besides the point. Alongside those new chips, you'll find Sony has pushed harder than ever to make this PC an all-encompassing digital media hub.
The L-Series has many of the usual features you expect to find in a modern, higher-end all-in-one. It comes with a 24-inch 1,920x1,080-pixel-resolution touch-screen, HDMI input and output, USB 3.0 jacks, and a slot-loading Blu-ray burner.
Amplifying its home entertainment chops is a Bravia X-Reality display engine, the same engine Sony uses in its televisions. The idea is to offer an all-in-one with the best picture quality, which Sony hopes will compel you to truly use the L-Series for entertainment in a dorm room, a den, a bedroom, or some other media consumption space outside of your living room.
Beyond the display tech, Sony has also added gesture recognition via the Webcam, with support for basic volume control and forward-and-back navigation input. I don't expect everyone will find gesture recognition a compelling point. At least we can hope it's better here than with Samsung's TVs.
Specs-wise, the L-Series is mostly competitive with other recent all-in-ones, like the Dell Inspiron One 27. Both have various i5 and i7 versions of Intel's new third-generation Core chips (aka, Ivy Bridge). They also feature Nvidia graphics chip options, TV tuners upgrades, and large hard drives (up to 3TB in the Sony).
The one glaring difference between the two is the display size. Dell's screen is a 27-incher at 2,560x1,440 pixels, matching the highest-end iMac. Sony only offers a 24-inch 1,920x1080-pixel display. Sony, like other vendors, claims that getting touch on a 27-inch display is prohibitively expensive. I understand it wants the L-Series to offer a user-friendly interface, but I expect I'm not the only one who would gladly sacrifice touch input for a bigger screen.
Sony has one possible killer feature for its all-in-one lined up for later this summer: glasses-free 3D. Sony says it will offer the option "late summer 2012." For now, the 2D-only model will be available this month, starting at $1,299 with a Core i5 chip. Sony will be selling the systems with a voucher to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99 when it launches later this year.