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Review: Sony VAIO Digital Studio PCV-RX790
Posted Jan 1, 2003 Print Version     Page 1of 1
  

To date, we've used the "Tools of the Trade" section of EMedia to look at software that contributes in one way or another to the content creation and production processes performed in digital studios. But any piece of software is by definition only a piece of the puzzle. Perhaps the quintessential tool of the digital studio trade is the PC itself—workbench, sawhorse, engine, turbine, and control center rolled into one. In one sense, that PC's main purpose is to provide an adequate foundation, to supply ample power, speed, expandability, and compatibility with whatever add-ons, peripherals, input sources, and the like you need to get your work done.

And for our own assessment purposes here, it's also interesting to see what digital studio-specific features are built into the PC itself, how it represents the vision of the manufacturer in defining what a desktop digital studio is.

Sony's Digital Studio line, a subset of its VAIO family of desktop and laptop PCs, seems like a suitable place to start, and not just because of its name. For the rest of 2003, the RX790—top of the Digital Studio VAIO line—will serve as our in-house testbed machine. We'll use it in multiple reviews in each issue, as well as in other testing projects demanding top PC performance.

Our RX790, a 2.4gHz Pentium IV running Windows XP Home Edition, features a pre-partitioned 120GB hard drive, 512GB RAM, and factory-installed DVD-R (Pioneer A04) and DVD-ROM (16X LiteOn) drives, as well as a Memory Stick slot (standard-issue on all Sony systems). In keeping with Sony's emphasis on IEEE 1394 technology (commonly known as FireWire; Sony calls it i.Link), the RX790 includes two i.Link ports, a 4-pin and a 6-pin. The PC also features two USB ports, one for USB 1.1 and the other USB 2.

With our unit we also received a Sony SDM-X72 17-inch LCD-TFT display with 1280x1024 XGA resolution—a basic necessity of studio-level video work.

The RX790 also ships with a variety of basic digital content capture and production tools, including DigitalPrint, an image import and management tool; Dvgate, a video capture and clip-editing tool; MovieShaker, a personal movie creation application; and SmartCapture, an i.Link management utility that also includes video compression features.

In initial testing with the VAIO, it proved a marked improvement over our previous system, a 1.5gHz Dell with 256MB RAM. Video editing and DVD authoring tools ran remarkably fast and smoothly, DV-to-MPEG-2 rendering speeds increased threefold, and succeeded as background operations without the slowdowns or crashes experienced on the slower system.

Though not a complete digital studio in and of itself, the VAIO RX790 makes a rock-solid foundation for building one.

www.vaio.net
$2,499

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