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Sony VAIO VGX-TP25E Home Theater PC Print E-mail
Friday, 09 May 2008
ImageThe Basics:
Sony offers two Windows Media Center PCs that sport a unique form factor, with a small, round, glossy chassis. Both models have a 500GB hard drive and a disc drive that allows Blu-ray playback and has read/write abilities for DVD and CD. The VGX-TP25E is the higher-end edition of the two. It offers 4GB of RAM and comes bundled with two external ATI TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner modules, which connect to the PC via the USB 2.0 ports. Each module has a CableCARD, Clear-QAM, and an NTSC and ATSC tuner. The step-down VGX-TP20 lacks the ATI bundle (it has one internal NTSC and ATSC tuner) and offers only 2GB of RAM, but its $1599.99 asking price is substantially lower.

The VGX-TP25E has two video output options (HDMI and VGA) and two audio output options (HDMI and optical digital). It includes four USB 2.0 ports (two of which will be used by the ATI tuners), one FireWire port and both SD and Memory Stick card readers, as well as headphone and microphone jacks. Connect to your network via built-in Ethernet or 802.11b/g.

The package includes an IR remote and a wireless keyboard with a touchpad. An HDMI cable and HDMI-to-DVI adapter are also included.
The Upside:
The VGX-TP25E has an HT-friendly design and footprint, and its processing power is solid. Blu-ray playback is a nice perk, and the ATI bundle lets you record two premium HD channels simultaneously or watch one HD show while you record another.

The Downside:
Given the unit’s higher-end price tag, its connection options are limited and it lacks flexibility and upgradeability. There are no 7.1-channel analog audio outputs, and you can’t pass high-resolution audio from a Blu-ray disc.

The VGX-TP25E has all the desirable features you want in a living room Media Center PC, but it is priced a lot higher than similarly equipped models that offer more upgradeability.

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