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Sony VGC-LT1S.CEK Media Center - Sony VGC-LT1S.CEK Media Center
Like the iMac, at the top of the screen there's a webcam, that Sony says has a 1.3-megapixel resolution and gives 30fps, but unfortunately, it didn't work on our review sample, so I can't comment on the quality. The bezel is a grille pattern that looks like one large speaker, which is reasonably smart, but what really makes it look good, is the fact that it's offset by the transparent frame. The various logos, indicators and lights are actually encased in the frame, which is basically very cool. The yellow power light glows in the top right hand corner yet has no visible connectors sending it power - it's the same with the disk activity lights and the illuminated Sony logo that sends out a pool of light downwards. A shame then that the whole thing is spoilt by the three stickers at the bottom left for Vista, Intel and nVidia. When Steve Jobs was asked at the new iMac launch why it didn't put the Intel Inside stickers on its iMac he laughed and simply said, "we like our own stickers better". Guess no one at Sony has the balls to say no to Intel et al. You can remove them but you'll be left with unsightly glue remnants that will be a pain to remove.
The VGC-LT1S sports an Intel Core 2 Duo T7250. This is 2GHz with 2MB of Level 2 cache, so it's not quite as good as the 2GHz Core 2 Duo with 4MB of L2 cache that's fitted to the base iMac. There's 2GB of RAM, which is really what you need for Vista. The base spec machine has a 250GB hard disk, and makes do with a dual-layer DVD Writer. However, the top spec LT1S we were sent sports a larger 320GB hard disk and a Blu-ray drive that also burns DVDs but doesn't do the same for Blu-ray - it's a player only. The Blu-ray drive is located on the right hand side and is slot loading, naturally.
At first we had trouble actually getting our copy of Casino Royale to play, with the frustrating message - "display environment was not permitted to play restricted content" halting proceedings. After much fiddling it runs out that the nVidia 8400M GT graphics chip driver was set to clone mode, so that a second display would show the same thing, which HDCP certainly doesn't like. However, setting it back to single display let us enjoy the delights of Eva Green and the Aston Martin DB-S, which both looked very fine on the X-Black display. Colours were perhaps a little over-saturated and skin tones not quite perfectly natural. The 1080p image was also being scaled down slightly, as there's only 1050 lines on this screen, which lead to some jaggies appearing on curved edges. However, this is nit picking with what was an eminently watchable high definition picture. Freeview from the built in TV tuner naturally didn't look quite as good, but HD channels on Freeview should be appearing in the next couple of years, so we can look forward.