The final piece of the puzzle is the remote control, after all, any media PC needs a remote control. From the remote you can launch the Sony media environment. Like Media Center this gives you simple access to live TV, recorded TV, stored video, music, DVD playback and image viewing. It all works very well and doesn't feel any less intuitive than Media Center. The remote is finished in matt silver and black and complements the system perfectly. There are shortcut buttons for Live TV, Recorded TV, Music, Pictures and CD/DVD, while the four way control with centre mounted Enter button makes navigation a breeze.
As always, Sony has thrown a huge bundle of software onto the machine. There’s the usual Sony stuff like SonicStage, SonicStage Mastering Studio and PictureGear Studio, while the Adobe Companion Pack is always good to see – there’s Photoshop Elements, Premier Standard, Acrobat Elements and Photoshop Album. There’s also Norton Internet Security (with three months of updates), Norton Password Manager and WinDVD. Finally you get a copy of Microsoft Works, which will get you working straight out of the box. Strangely my review sample had Microsoft Office installed, but it would appear that this is not part of the regular bundle.
Price wise, the VGC-V3m will set you back £1,352.54 including VAT, which isn’t bad considering the amount of kit that’s squeezed into this stylish little box. But even so, I do have one or two issues with this machine. First is the lack of a digital TV tuner is a real disappointment – a cutting edge system like this really should be throwing DVB-T into the equation. Also it would have been good to have seen two tuners, giving you the option of watching one channel while you record another. Finally, I think that integrated WiFi should be a prerequisite for a machine like this, despite the easy upgrade path that the PC Card slot offers.
On the whole though, this is a nice little media PC and probably one of the best looking solutions out there. If you’re living in a small studio flat, in college digs or even just want an all-in-one solution for your home office, the VAIO VGC-V3M is worth a look.
Sony has built a sleek all-in-one media PC that wouldn’t look out of place in even the most stylish of homes. Unfortunately there are a few small issues that stop the VAIO VGC-V3M from being a must have machine, with the lack of digital TV tuner and integrated WiFi being the worst culprits. However, if you can live without those features and need to have your entertainment centre and PC all in one good looking box, the VGC-V3M should fit the bill.