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Sony Vaio VGC-RA304 - Sony Vaio VGC-RA304
Beneath the aforementioned silver strip is a flap that slides down to reveal a floppy drive bay for the old schoolers out there. Beneath this are memory card slots for Compact Flash, SD, XD, of course, Sony’s own Memory Stick. At the bottom, a flap comes down to reveal a PC card slot, which is unusual for a desktop machine. Beneath this are composite and S-Video inputs a headphone and microphone socket, a 400Mbps iLink (aka FireWire) slot and three USB 2.0 ports. If you want to use a wireless card and close the flap at the front you’ll need to source one of Sony’s own brand offerings that features a foldable aerial - the Netgear one we used during testing meant we couldn’t’t close the flap, which would just “ruin the décor, don’t you know“.
The motherboard is based on Intel’s Granstdale 915 chipset and runs an Intel Pentium 4 560, with 3.6GHz of processing goodness. This is very capable but in such a multi-tasking media centred machine such as this I would have preferred to see a dual-core Pentium D, but that’s still relatively new technology and it tends to take a behemoth like Sony a while to respond to such things. One would imagine it will appear in next year’s model.
There’s 1GHz of RAM on two slots with two more available for upgrading. There’s also two hard disks of 250GB each, which are set-up in a RAID 0 configuration for increased performance. This is split into a C drive of 27.9Gb formatted, just for Windows, and a D partition that appears as a huge 432GB of formatted capacity for all your content and applications. Nice.
Graphics are handled by an nVidia GeForce 6600. This is powerful enough for recent games but not for running them at high resolutions or for image quality enhancing filtering modes enabled. It sports a VGA and a DVI connections and a TV Out. At the rear there are also two USB 2.0 slots, an iLink (FireWire) port and a 100Mbps Ethernet port. Audio is provided by a High Definition codec with support for 5.1 analogue output or you can send a digital stream out via the optical out.
The TV Tuner card sports inputs for composite or S-Video and has two phone audio inputs. Unfortunately, it’s only an analogue tuner. Yes, it seems Sony still hasn’t heard of digital TV. Still, one wouldn’t expect the one of the world’s leading display companies to keep up with all the latest new fangled technology, would you.