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One of the things that puts some people off desktop PCs is that they can take up a lot of space and look messy doing it. In this scenario, many will prefer a notebook, but for those who just like that desktop PC feel or want a bit more screen real estate than most notebooks can provide, your best bet is an all-in-one system. The last one we looked at was the HP TouchSmart IQ810, which had a Full HD screen and touch functionality, but came in at close to £1,500, putting it out of reach for many. So today, we're looking at Sony's VGC-JS1E, an attractive-looking and more affordable solution.
For a keen sub-£640 price-tag you get a 20.1in display with the usual 1,680 x 1,050 resolution, so it won't handle Full HD but 720p's no problem. This is backed by decent but uninspiring internals, including a 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo, 500GB hard drive, 3GB of RAM and Intel GMA X4500HD graphics.
Taking the machine out of its box, first impressions are certainly favourable. Build quality is generally good, though there are a few flimsy parts. It's available in a range of colours, including brown, pink and silver, with black a regrettable absentee. Our silver unit did look good, though, with strong, smooth lines and a minimalist design. It has a consistent depth of only 6cm, and looks even thinner thanks to some clever bevelling and chassis moulding. At 8.5kg, the computer is also easy enough to move between rooms but usual with these kinds of systems the power brick is a large clunky affair.
The VGC-JS1E minimalist design is best reflected in the picture frame-style stand, which is formed by combining the curved surround at the front with a solid, spring-loaded support that's hinged at the rear of the chassis. This arrangement, while simple, allows for a large degree of tilt adjustability.
Sony also provides a matching mouse and keyboard. Unfortunately these are wired, which somewhat ruins the VGC-JS1E's clean look. The ambidextrous optical mouse is really quite diminutive, making it difficult to use with average-sized hands. I certainly didn't find it overly comfortable. Aside from this, the only drawback is the lack of horizontal scrolling. Aesthetically, I do like the way the mouse-wheel 'floats' in a small cut-out that passes right though the mouse. In a way, this echoes the cut-out at the bottom of the PC which, incidentally, makes for a convenient place to stow away the keyboard when not in use.
Speaking of the keyboard, it's an altogether more impressive affair than the mouse. It sports the isolated key style typical of Sony's high-end products and is incredibly slim, which obviously matches the smooth lines of the main unit beautifully. Key response is good, with a positive click despite the shallow typing depth, but the keys are a little slippery. The keyboard also sports some neatly integrated shortcut keys and function keys, including volume and brightness.