Getting back to the VGC-JS1E itself, there’s a decent selection of features and connections. There are wireless, hard drive and power indicators at the top of the screen’s bezel, to the left of the 1.3-megapixel “Motion Eye” webcam. Above the power indicator at the machine’s top is a subtly integrated power button and a ventilation slot. It’s worth mentioning that the Sony stays very cool during use, and is virtually silent unless put under stress.
On the right side is the DVD-writer, while on the left are SD and Sony’s MagicGate memory card slots and two USB ports along with 3.5mm headphone, microphone and line-out jacks. There is also a wireless switch, which is easy to use without having to look around the side. At the back we find a further three USB ports, a mini-FireWire port, power and Ethernet sockets. Best of all, a digital audio connection enables you to hook the integrated Realtek Audio card up to your home cinema system with the best possible quality.
While wishing for an e-SATA port might be being picky (despite most notebooks featuring one these days), what has me more frustrated is the total lack of video in or outputs. So you can’t hook the VGC-JS1E up to your 40in TV or play any of your consoles on its screen. Unfortunately, this is a complaint common to most all-in-one systems. However, Sony has seen fit to offer HDMI-in on its LN all-in-one series, which sport the same screen size, so its absence here is even more annoying than usual.
This is exacerbated by the fact that the screen is really rather good. Horizontal viewing angles are very impressive for a TN panel, though as usual vertical ones suffer. The 20.1in panel also manages deep and detailed blacks at the cost of some slight white purity and highlight differentiation, a reasonable compromise for an entertainment-oriented system. This and the good horizontal viewing angles makes films a joy to watch especially for those beaten to the best seats in the house.
Colours are vibrant without being oversaturated, and though the screen does have a glossy coating, reflections are less of a problem than on many other such displays, including the one on the HP TouchSmart IQ810. Finally, there is only the slightest hint of backlight bleed at the bottom centre, which you’d never really notice unless looking for it, gradients are incredibly smooth with no sign whatsoever of banding, and text is never less than razor-sharp.
Unfortunately, the speakers don’t live up to the VGC-JS1E’s visual performance. While classical music or speech comes across with presence and clarity, anything that relies on a high level of bass to really work will lose out. Furthermore, serious distortion also creeps in at higher volumes.