Sony VAIO VPC-L11S1E review

8 Oct 2009

An all-in-one with a truly stunning screen; the multitouch capability and Windows 7 lift it to greatness

Price when reviewed: 
1,400(£1,399 inc VAT)
5

For all the advances in PC technology over the past few decades, the humble mouse appears in little danger of becoming extinct anytime soon. Other control methods have plugged away with limited success, and the most promising of these right now looks to be touch. Indeed, where Microsoft's previous operating systems relegated touch to little more than a novelty, Windows 7 finally brings it to the fore, and Sony has harnessed its potential with the VAIO VPC-L11S1E/S.

We've seen some stunning all-in-one PCs in our time, but this Sony is the best. Heave it from its box and its weighty, solid build reassures from the off. The VPC-L11S1E/S oozes such quality that every time we returned to the PC Pro Labs, we found someone amorously prodding its wide touchscreen display.

It's the display that raises the VAIO above the opposition. The patented X-Black glossy finish might be dogged by reflectivity, but fire up a Blu-ray movie and the immense brightness and vibrancy allay any concerns. Its 24in splendour is matched by a Full HD native resolution and superb image quality, with dual backlights making for beautiful colours and fantastic contrast levels. Whether images are moving or still, the Sony imparts them with a depth that has to be seen to be believed.

Sony VAIO VPC-L11S1E

Rather than the resistive technology employed by many of the touchscreen PCs we've seen, the Sony's optical multitouch screen is altogether more suitable. The panel is incredibly sensitive, and in concert with Windows 7's touch-friendly onscreen keyboard, you'll rarely have to use the supplied wireless keyboard and mouse. Surfing the web is rapid and intuitive, with "pen flick" gestures or the stroke of a finger allowing you to navigate the web, and pinching motions zoom seamlessly in and out of websites.

Windows 7's Touch Pack collects some of its more alluring touch software, culled from the much-touted Surface project. Surface Globe is clunky, but the range of games prove an impressive showcase for the Sony's multitouch talents.

Spritely performance helps to keep Windows 7 Home Premium feeling light on its feet, largely thanks to Intel's 3GHz Core 2 Duo E8400. The combination of 4GB of memory and 64-bit Windows means even serious multitasking or video editing is on the agenda - a score of 1.44 in our benchmarks might not be cutting edge, but it's fast by all-in-one standards.

The only disappointment is Nvidia's GeForce G210M graphics chipset. The G210M has enough grunt to decode Blu-ray, but struggled to a disappointing 14fps at 1,280 x 1,024 and medium detail in our Crysis benchmark.

Sony hasn't missed a trick with the rest of the VAIO's specification. A dual digital-tuner TV card is included as standard, and there are HDMI and composite video inputs to allow other devices to take full advantage of the sublime display. There's even picture-in-picture technology. And when you're watching TV, the loud distortion-free speakers will easily fill most rooms.

There's no shortage of ports, with the two USB connectors on the left-hand edge supplemented by mini-FireWire, and both SD and Memory Stick card readers. An aerial socket provides for both tuners, while there are three more USB ports alongside an optical digital S/PDIF output. The package is rounded off with Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11bgn wireless networking.

It isn't cheap, but with a generous core specification, the Sony VAIO VPC-L11S1/E is ready for pretty much any task you throw at it. Its looks are matched by an equally stunning high-definition display, and the multitouch capability is a fine match for Windows 7. It's an expensive, luxurious, hands-on triumph.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,217
Price inc VAT £1,400
Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 4

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 500
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Screen size 24.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Core 2 Duo
CPU nominal frequency 3.00GHz
Processor socket LGA 775

Motherboard

Motherboard chipset Intel P45
Conventional PCI slots free 0
Conventional PCI slots total 0
PCI-E x16 slots free 0
PCI-E x16 slots total 0
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 0
Internal SAS connectors 0
Internal PATA connectors 0
Internal floppy connectors 0
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR2
Memory sockets free 0
Memory sockets total 2

Graphics card

Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce G210M
Graphics card RAM 512MB
DVI-I outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0
Number of graphics cards N/A

Hard disk

Hard disk Western Digital WD5000AAJS-55A8B2
Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 466GB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Cache size 16MB
Hard disk 2 make and model N/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 spindle speed N/A
Hard disk 2 cache size N/A
Hard disk 3 make and model N/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 4 make and model N/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacity N/A

Drives

Optical drive Sony Optiarc BC-5500S4
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader
Optical disk 2 make and model N/A
Optical disk 3 make and model N/A

Monitor

Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
DVI inputs 0
HDMI inputs 1
VGA inputs 0
DisplayPort inputs 0

Additional Peripherals

Speakers Sony
Speaker type Stereo
Sound card Realtek HD Audio
Peripherals Wireless keyboard and mouse, Media Center remote control

Case

Case format All-in-one
Dimensions 584 x 200 x 433mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 5
FireWire ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 3

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel FireWire ports 1
Front panel memory card reader yes

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Sony

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery disc

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 91W
Peak power consumption 133W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 1.44
Office application benchmark score 1.51
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.62
Encoding application benchmark score 1.28
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.37
3D performance (crysis) low settings 47fps
3D performance setting Low