Sony VAIO VGX-TP20E Media Center PC Reviewed

Sony VAIO VGX-TP20E Media Center PC Reviewed

Sony is a company that offers both style and substance. The Sony VAIO VGX-TP20E media center PC is a clear representation of this. Rather than stick with the boxy forms of the typical server, Sony introduced a round form factor that is pretty attractive, and they packed enough inside it to make it even more attractive.


Sony offers two home theater PC models designed to be more attractive living-room options. Both the VGX-TP20E ($1,600) and the more expensive VGX-TP25E ($2,000) have an interesting round chassis and a glossy black finish, and the two are very similar in their computing specs. We have not performed a hands-on review of the VGX-TP20E, but here is an overview of its features: Windows Vista Home Premium OS, a 500GB hard drive, a 2.10GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8100 processor, 2GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM, the Nvidia GeForce 8400GT graphics card, and the Intel HD audio sound card. (The pricier VGX-TP25E ups the SDRAM to 4GB.)

Read more Sony reviews here.

Read more high end media server reviews from Apple, K-scape, Logitech and many others here.

Both models feature a disc drive that supports Blu-ray playback and has DVD and CD read/write capabilities. TV and DVR functionality are included; the primary difference between the VGX-TP20E and VGX-TP25E is in the tuner department. The less-expensive model includes ATSC and NTSC tuners to pull in and record over-the-air HD/SD content; stepping up to the TP25E gets you two external ATI TV Wonder digital cable tuners (with CableCARD support) to pull in premium cable channels. In terms of connectivity, output options on the VGX-TP20E include HDMI, VGA, optical digital audio, and a headphone jack. As for inputs, you get RF and A/V inputs, a microphone input, four USB 2.0 ports, one iLink jack, and SD and MemoryStick readers. The unit includes both 10/100 Ethernet and 802.11b/g network adapters, as well as an IR remote and a wireless keyboard.

Read Page 2 for The High Points, Low Points and Conclusion


High Points
• The SonyVGX-TP20E includes a Blu-ray drive and TV/DVR functionality.

• It has a cool, petite form factor and an attractive gloss-black finish. The TP20E is also available in a gloss-white finish, and that box actually costs less: $1,350.
• The unit comes with both an IR remote and a wireless keyboard.
• It sports an HDMI output for easy integration into a home entertainment system, and an HDMI cable is included in the package.

Low Points
• The VGX-TP20E only supports ATSC/NTSC tuners. To tune in premium HD content, you must get the pricier VGX-TP25E.
• This product can't internally decode high-resolution audio tracks from Blu-ray discs, nor can it output these formats to be decoded by your A/V receiver. It lacks multichannel analog audio outputs.
• The VGX-TP20E lacks the customization and upgradeability you can find elsewhere.
• The unit only supports 10/100 Ethernet, and 802.11n is not included.

The VAIO VGX-TP20E is a solid media center PC that offers Blu-ray playback, good computing specs, and a great form factor. If you subscribe to digital cable, you might want to go with the step-up VGX-TP25E, which comes with dual external ATI digital cable tuners. The TP25E model used to be exorbitantly priced at $3,000, but Sony has wisely knocked $1,000 off the price tag to make it a more realistic option. Sony does not give you the freedom to customize its media center PCs the way you can with products from other manufacturers; but, if you're looking for a complete, attractive, easy media PC solution with Blu-ray support, these models fit the bill.

Read more Sony reviews here.

Read more high end media server reviews from Apple, K-scape, Logitech and many others here.

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