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I bought one of these 6 months ago, I looked at all the competition, prices, i managed to shave £200 off it by shopping around (Don't go to john lewis, they are extortionate!) and read lots and lots of reviews about it.
After careful consideration the main persuasions which got me to buy this were: The huge amount of free software that came with it, Office, tvtv, Sonicstage, record Now, adobe elements, everything you need basically, whether it be video editing, photo editing, music organising, watching tv, burning cd's/dvd's, or connecting to wireless networks. The stuff you get easily covers whatever premium you pay for the Vaio brand.
The graphics card - GeForce GO FX5700 128MB, this is more than adequate for all my games (even black and white 2), this performs beautifully!
The DVD/CD Burner - DVD+-RW/+-R Dual Layer Writer, this is fast, I burn a full cd of music in less than 5minutes, and i can burn a pre-encoded movie in about 10minutes, En-coding the movie takes roughly an hour (my last computer took a day).
The Processor - 3.4GHz Pentium 4 with Hyper Threading, This
processor is very fast, one of the fastest available at the beginning of 2006, and will remain useful for another 5 years easily!
Hard Disk - 250GB, now this may seem huge..but...They've partitioned it (split it up into two), one is 27.9GB, which has Windows on it, i've filled it up easily just with games and things, the other one, is 220GB which i store big games on, I really hate how they've split it up, there are programs you can get to combine them but i think you lose all of your data. Don't let this put you off though, i haven't even touched on the best thing about this computer yet...
The Screen - 20inch TFT with X-Black technology, now i don't know what X-Black is, but its amazing, its so vivid, clear, it makes you go 'wow', its widescreen, and 20inch is HUGE. There's a screen saver which compares X-Black to normal LCD and i don't know how hyped that is but there's a hell of a lot of difference, this screen alone is worth £500, so that really puts the cost of the computer into perspective.
Weight - at 13Kilograms, this ain't a laptop, yes it's easy to carry around, but i wouldn't bet on shifting it from the lounge to the bedroom everynight (well if you do it beats working out at the gym eh?)
Memory - 512mb, which is taken up by Sony's own suite of applications quite easily, but there's still more than enough to cope with a demanding game such as Age of Empires 3, or Black and White 2.
Little Extras - It only needs 1 cable....Wireless LAN is really really good, and wireless keyboard+ mouse look too cool to be true (battery consumption emm..yes I'd buy cheap batteries from Costco or something..they fairly munch through em'). It is an actual TV..yep..this is one of my favourite features too..you stick an aerial in it..and tune it in..and you can watch TV..you can even record it, rewind it, pause it, and sync it to the tvtv.co.uk guide so you select what you want to record You can plug in Red-white-yellow cables, so you can hook up an x-box or digital box to it, and record it, in widescreen, at awesome HDTV quality (so i read somewhere) The design is, simply put - beautiful. Speakers hidden along the bottom, reflective black ont he outside, hidden lights, foldaway bits to hide USB ports at the side, cable management system (surprisingly good) and lovely stand which it can rotate on.
Buy this computer for the screen, the simplicity, and the fact that everything's there..there's no need to buy any more software, or keyboards, or cables, or speakers. Sure Dell do the same thing a little cheaper, but their screen is NOTHING compared to this, nor is any of the sony software there.
Oh one last thing..Vaio Media Center..you use the remote control (class huh) to pick songs, video's, picture slideshows, watch tv. anything!
UPDATE: A year ago, I installed Vista - what a mistake that was. The brightness controls don't work, the graphics card doesn't have any supported driver (have to use some overclocking one) and none of the sony software works either.
After going through their online support (which is...ok) They basically gave up and said I should revert to XP.
Basically put - It cannot be upgraded at all. You can't put a new graphics card into it. Which has pissed me off no end.
Only saving grace is that it still looks absolutely beautiful.