April 1st, 2008 Computers, Tech

Changing form factors of the computer hasn’t been a big priority in the industry. Just like Apple asked the world in 1998 whether all desktop PCs had to be in square beige boxes by releasing the original iMac, some vendors have tried to break free of traditions a few times. It’d be interesting to see how well alternate PC designs do in the marketplace, but figures are hard to come by as every vendor will tell you theirs was a huge hit.

In the last year we’ve had the monstrous (in dimensions), intriguing HP TouchSmart PC and the Sony VAIO LA38G — progenitor of the VAIO VGCLM18G. Like its forefather, the VGCLM18G stands up like a TV. The cynical would say the design rips off the latest iMac, but they’d be missing the point. As entertainment and computing continue to merge, it makes sense for the two machines we use the most in our homes — the PC and TV — to look similar.

Like the iMac, the VGCLM18G looks like a large monitor, the components all stuffed in the body somewhere. It makes several improvements over the LA38G from whence it came, the first of which is a full sized extended keyboard. While the LA38G looked cool, it was very uncomfortable to type on. The keys weren’t miniscule, but they seemed just that bit smaller than they needed to be, and quick jabs at the space bar frequently resulted in misfires to another key or off the keyboard altogether.

The VGCLM18G keyboard isn’t only full sized — it’s wireless, as is the mouse. Desktop walked about five metres across the room and the VAIO still responded to the very clear wireless signal.

Sony has also specced the VGCLM18G through the roof. It sports an Intel Core 2 Duo chip, both Express and PCMCIA card slots, 5 USB ports, a 19′ screen with a 1.3 megapixel chat camera built in, 2Gb of RAM and a 250 GB disk.

They’ve also made it a very media-friendly entertainment hub. With an nVidia 8400M graphics card, it can handle most of what processor-hungry games can throw at it and will play DVDs a treat. Being a Sony PC, it also comes with a full suite of DVD creating, movie editing and basic music mixing tools to make your own content.

But most interesting is the extra digital media ports. There’s a digital audio out port that can make the VGCLM18G your digital stereo or home theatre base, and an AV in port means you can record incoming TV straight from the signal or a set top box such as Foxtel.

And besides everything else, it just looks so good. For the days when the PC truly makes the migration from the study to the living room, designs like the VGCLM18G will take pride of place.

RRP: $3,500

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