Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sony VAIO VGC-RB60G Desktop PC

Targeting multimedia enthusiasts and creative folk who relish the thought of manipulating photos, editing home movies, burning and playing digital music and building a library of all of the above, the Sony VAIO VGC-RB60G Desktop PC is in reality a capable and versatile machine that'll suit most any computing environment and task. Featuring excellent optical drive facilities, a new-generation processor tailor-made for multitasking, a large hard drive and ample memory, the system lacks only a top-notch 3D graphics card. Fortunately, those who need high-end 3D graphics will find a graphics card upgrade relatively painless and affordable, while those who don't can just jump right in as is. Regardless, the VAIO VGC-RB60G is a wise choice for those who need to do a lot with their computer but can't financially justify a pricey, top of the line machine.

At the heart of any computer lies the CPU (or processor), a massive collection of miniature transistors that governs the speed and capability of the entire unit. For the VAIO VGC-RB60G, Sony has turned to Intel and its new Pentium D 920 CPU. At 2.8 GHz, this processor's clock speed would have been considered state-of-the-art a little more than a year ago but is now a few steps removed from that. However, this isn't just any old Pentium. It features Intel's new dual-core technology, which in essence allows it to operate far more efficiently than a regular 2.8 GHz processor when running a "dual-core optimized" application or when faced with more than a single task. For those who want to watch a DVD movie in one room while they're burning a CD and perhaps fiddling with a spreadsheet in another, this CPU is an ideal solution. It's also infused with a whopping four MB of Level 2 cache and a generous data "pipeline" for faster access to a larger amount of the data you use most often. Ultimately, this is a solid processor for single applications but an amazing processor for those who regularly run several programs at the same time.

Computers typically store information on their hard drive, but they also keep frequently and recently accessed data in Random Access Memory (RAM) for faster retrieval. More RAM means more efficient computing, superior multitasking and less strain on your hard drive. Currently, 256 MB of RAM is suitable for a bare bones entry-level machine, 512 MB is considered sufficient for most applications and multitasking situations, and one GB (1024 MB) is standard equipment on high-end power PCs. The VAIO VGC-RB60G offers one full GB of extremely fast PC2-4200 533 MHz RAM.

CPU's are usually so busy doing basic calculations that they need help translating visual output -- particularly the demanding 3D visual output of games and 3D animation packages -- to the viewing screen. This is the duty of the graphics card (or graphics controller). A graphics controller with "dedicated" video memory is preferable to a controller that's integrated on the motherboard and "shares" the system's main memory, as it will better handle complex procedures and display a more sophisticated, smoother image.

The VAIO VGC-RB60G features a relatively new style of video controller -- a hybrid of sorts between high-end standalone "dedicated memory" cards and less capable integrated "shared memory" controllers. It's called the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900, a component that is indeed fitted to the motherboard and shares main memory but features a more refined structure than older integrated controllers. It also commandeers more of the system's main memory -- up to 224 MB -- than traditional integrated controllers.

Ultimately, this controller is sufficient for all 2D and most 3D tasks (including many 3D games) and is superior to traditional integrated controllers. However, a dedicated video card with 256 MB or more of built-in memory is a smart upgrade if you want to experience a truly smooth frame rate and all the high-end visual effects of the latest, greatest 3D games.

Sony has not included a display screen, thus allowing you to continue using your current monitor or select from today's many alternatives.

The VAIO VGC-RB60G generates stereo and surround sound via an audio chip integrated on the motherboard. This arrangement doesn't offer the power or the sophistication of a dedicated sound card, but it's more than sufficient for the enclosed set of stereo desktop speakers.

Hard Drive
The days of the computer as a mere data processing tool are long gone. Accordingly, hard drives have now grown much larger to accommodate all the space-intensive multimedia files that users are creating and storing. This system's 250 GB hard drive may not be the largest on the market, but it offers plenty of space for files and applications and a comprehensive music, video/photo and multimedia library too. Furthermore, it's quick -- sporting a fast 7200-RPM speed, an 8 MB buffer, and the faster transfer rates and smaller cables of cutting-edge Serial ATA (SATA) technology. These are all comparatively recent innovations, each increasing the overall speed and performance of the system.

Optical Drive
An optical drive is essential in today's computing world. A "CD-ROM" drive allows you to install CD-based applications and play music CDs. A "CD-RW" drive adds CD "burning", so you can also backup your important files to long-lasting discs and create personalized music CDs. With a DVD-ROM drive you can enjoy all of the above plus watch the same big budget DVD movies you watch on your home entertainment system. And with a DVD-RW drive, you can also "write" home movies to durable discs and archive files to DVD (DVDs boast more than seven times the storage capacity of CDs).

This unit incorporates two drives -- a DVD-ROM/CD-ROM drive for reading and/or playing your discs, and a Double Layer DVD+R/DVD+/-RW drive through which you can not only burn and play anything but also take advantage of new double layer DVDs (twice the capacity of traditional DVDs).

Connectivity and Expansion
The VAIO VGC-RB60G sports all the latest data connections, including six high-speed USB 2.0 ports (two on the front, four on the rear) for plug and play gadgets such as digital cameras and printers, two IEEE 1394 "FireWire" ports (commonly used for fast data transfer from digital camcorders), a multimedia card reader for uploading data from today's most popular memory cards, high-quality composite audio-video inputs, and an integrated TV tuner for watching (and recording) television broadcasts. It is not equipped with a DVI output for sending digital signals to DVI-equipped flat panel monitors. Communication options include an ultra-high-speed gigabit LAN interface for super-fast network and Internet interaction and a 56K data/fax modem for low-speed dial-up connections.

Operating System and Software
Sony will load the VAIO VGC-RB60G with Microsoft's multimedia-friendly operating system, Microsoft's Windows XP Media Center Edition. Other applications include Microsoft's Works 8.5 productivity suite, Intuit's Quicken 2005 New User Edition financial suite, and a wide variety of Sony's own respected multimedia utilities.

You'll control your system with a VAIO Keyboard and a hardwired USB optical mouse and a standard PS/2 mouse.

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