Review Price free/subscription
Beneath the slot loading Blu-ray drive, you'll find two USB ports, while there's a lot more going on the opposite side, with separate PC Card and Express card slots, and memory stick and SD card slots. Beneath this there's a headphone socket and a small yellow light to show when the built-in Wireless is on, which offers both b, g, and n standards. Round the back is a switch for turning the wireless off, three more USB ports, a mini 4-pin FireWire port and stereo analogue line-out as well as a digital optical connector, so you should be able to hook up to external amps to get surround sound from DVDs and Blu-ray discs. However, without an HDMI output there's no way you'll be able to extract the new high resolution surround formats from the discs. That said, that's not so much of an issue as it's hardly likely to be a main display for a home cinema system.
Powering on the system is done from the button on the top right. Next to this is a display off button so when you've finished watching TV you can leave it to do PC like things while the screen is off. With the display on you'll meet the delights of Windows Vista Home Premium. We had trouble with our installation that we tracked to the preinstalled Norton 360 and it took a system restore to remove the issues and personally I'd recommend uninstalling Norton at the first opportunity. However, the other provided applications are up to Sony's usual high standard with Adobe Photoshop Elements 5 and Premier Elements 3, and though both have just been superseded by the just released newer versions they're still great to have essentially for free. There's also lots of Google related software ready to go, such as the Google Gadgets, possibly a bit redundant on Vista, and Picasa 2.
Accompanying the screen is a wireless keyboard and mouse. The keyboard has a full number pad, which I was pleased about, and there are mute, and volume controls along with three shortcut keys assigned to Media Centre, switching display modes between PC and video and an eject button for the Blu-ray player. Next to this is a system standby button. There's also a power off button so you don't waste the rather demanding four AA batteries it takes when the machine's not being used. The keyboard has a stylish double hinged flap to cover it when it's not in use, and it also acts as a very smart wrist rest. The layout of keys is good and they are full size, and it's actually very nice indeed to type on. The mouse has a bulbous 50s Sci-Fi look to it, that I rather like, and though it's a fairly conventional two button and scroll wheel mouse, it felt comfortable in the hand. If you like the idea of this machine as a regular home office machine, you'll do fine with these two.