To the casual observer, Sony’s VAIO VGC-RA304 might look like any ordinary home PC. However, underneath the unassuming façade lurks a much more original and interesting machine, which combines the power of a top-spec gaming machine with a home entertainment server capable of managing nearly every media device you set it loose on.
An Intel Pentium 4 processor complements the 16x PCI-Express Nvidia GeForce 6600 couple with 1GB of RAM; that should cover all but the most obsessive gamer’s need for a good long while. Plus dual RAID array hard drives provide the capacity for storing unnecessary amounts of digital media and back it up securely.
Included in the package is the VGP-MR100E Network Media Receiver, which connects the PC to your stereo and telly and even generates a VAIO Zone-style user interface on the screen to make file browsing and selection easier. What’s more, this device is HD Compatible so it can stream to an HD Ready TV; ideal if you’ve got something like the Sony HDR-FX1 HDV video camera to play with…
The media receiver uses the bundled Wireless LAN Access Point so there’ll be no messy cabling needed and media played on the PC can be controlled with the either the wireless mouse, keyboard or remote control, which highlights the possibility that Sony’s designers might actually be afraid of wires.
The media centre is future proofed using new DLNA-compliant server technology, which is a system aimed at supporting sharing of digital media through out the home. Hopefully it will also be able to stop cheeky neighbours borrowing movies off the Wi-Fi network too. The Sony RA304 desktop Vaio is available now for around £1,600 depending on the supplier.