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Sony VAIO L21 review

Verdict

Sony packs a lot into its latest touchscreen all-in-one – not least some great interface innovations

Review Date: 21 Feb 2011

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: £1,000 (£1,200 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Of all the manufacturers to attempt touchscreen all-in-ones, few can match the consistent success enjoyed by Sony. We’ve been impressed by previous VAIO L Series offerings and 
now it’s moving to the next level: the L21 is the first all-in-one we’ve seen with a Sandy Bridge processor.

The first thing you notice is the 24in Full HD touchscreen. It’s accurate and responsive, and the LED backlight provides vivid colours and razor-sharp detail without backlight bleed.

It also has some innovative control features. Tapping to the left and right of the central Sony logo below the screen switches between photos, songs or videos; trailing a finger up and down the right-hand bezel zooms in and out of pictures. A tap anywhere on the left hand side opens Microsoft’s onscreen keyboard, and prodding the bottom-left and top-right corners switches to the desktop and closes the current program.

That’s not the most interesting improvement, though. Sony’s real party piece is gesture control. Using the L21’s 1.3mp webcam, a horizontal wave of the hand navigates songs, photos or movies, while a downward gesture controls pause and play. You can see it in action in the video below.

It’s great fun – just ask the crowd that gathered in the office, demanding we test it with our heads and a plastic banana (both worked). But it’s also limited: the gestures don’t work outside of Sony’s VAIO software, and only the two mentioned gestures are available.

The touch controls are of much more use than the gestures, but the rest of Sony’s software is pretty slick. It’s no longer based on the XrossMediaBar that underpins the PlayStation 3. Instead, it uses tabs to manage music, movie and photo collections, with a Now Playing area that augments your selected media with suggestions pulled from both local and web-based content.

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User comments

Decent specs for once

Very nice piece of tech here!! Question , software supplied all demos right, also what is the boost up on the i5 (also is it duo or quad core), not really upgradable is it?? for 1200 pounds, how can these people overcharge so much, i can have two, possible three times better PC for that price...

By mobilegnet on 23 Feb 2011

Why so much?

because as a rule, those wanting devices such as this and are willing to buy rather than question are not phased by cost! These devices are fantastic if your of the mind to upgrade the whole device every 3 - 4 years. I look after a number of these machines from varying generations and they all just keep on kicking, dont get me wrong, internal upgrades are difficult and extreemly unfriendly to the non-techie but you have a TV, DVD/B-Ray, PVR and PC inside a box that is usually VERY quiet and the same size as a standard TV of the same screen size - theyre a demonstration of good engineering skills.

In part its to do with aesthetics - if it looks pretty then people will pay the asking price irrespective of build and component standards - after all look at Apple!
Another factor your not necessarily taking into consideration it at has a touchscreen (instantly add £400), these are still expensive.
For those unsure go and play with one - I have recently put one of the latest generation and was immensly impressed - the device it replaced has been stripped apart, Cleaned, upgraded HDD, RAM and O/S and is back out to a second user who thinks its the dogs nuts despite being over 4 years old!
NO I do not work for Sony and dont own any Sony kit - out of my price range (though donations welcomed!) - Tech diversity is such now that for the average joe user can pick something up within their own budget and that they are attracted to rather than be forced into our industry "gotta buy the biggest fastest" mantra that still survives today. I build all my own PCs and accept that you could buy much more for much less but I AM SURE that my homebrew version of a VAIO will NOT look as pretty - in fact my media centre pc sits quietly in the airing cupboard connected to my TV by a 10m HDMI cable and is controlled remotely by a Logitech DiNovo Mini. It works for me! What works for you?

By jeffroimms on 24 Feb 2011

When will it be available for sale?

By chuka on 26 Feb 2011

Big_Yin

What's the fan noise like on this? The previous version's fan, the Sony VPCL14S1E/S, ran constantly unlike the iMac.

By Big_Yin on 25 Apr 2011

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