Sony VAIO PCV-RS220 Review

...the PCV-RS220 would be best suited for office work than gaming or any 3D related software.
...the PCV-RS220 would be best suited for office work than gaming or any 3D related software.
...the PCV-RS220 would be best suited for office work than gaming or any 3D related software.

Highs

  • The RS220 comes with a DVD-RW/CD-RW writer

Lows

  • No AGP port
  • limited expansion
  • weak speakers

DT Editors' Rating

Home > Product Reviews > Desktop Reviews > Sony VAIO PCV-RS220 Review

Summary

When there are so many desktop options in the $999 market, it is hard to recommend the Sony VAIO PCV-RS220 system as the one to go with. With no video expansion possibilities and very little in the way of expansion ports and bays, the PCV-RS220 should be priced lower than what it currently is. Once you add a monitor to the system, the overall price will raise significantly. A quick search on the internet or your local electronics store will reveal better alternatives from the likes of DELL and Gateway, complete with monitor and more expansion for the same price. There is no doubt that the PCV-RS220 system will be a hot seller with Sony’s nameplate on the front of the system, and if you absolutely must have a Sony, pay a little more and get a system in Sony’s RZ line.

Introduction

The Sony VAIO PCV-RS220 is Sony’s latest entry level system in the sub $1000 market. Geared for the small office or home, the PCV-RS220 would be best suited for office work than gaming or any 3D related software. This is because the PCV-RS220 uses the Intel 845G/GL chipset with shared video memory and no available AGP slot which means you will never be able to upgrade your video adapter. Surprisingly though, Sony does include a DVD-R/CD-RW drive in the PCV-RS220 which is certainly unusual for a system in this price range. If you are a fan of Sony’s design we would recommend spending a little more money and opting for the next level in Sony’s desktop line, the RZ series.

Features

The Sony VAIO PCV-RS220 features Intel’s Pentium 4 processor running at 2.53GHz on a 533MHz front side bus supported by the Intel 845G/GL chipset. The PCV-RS220 comes with 512MB of 266MHz DDR memory which is expandable to 1GB, and a 120GB ATA 100 Hard drive. Components integrated on the motherboard include Intel’s integrate 845G graphics with 64MB of shared memory, 10/100Base-T Ethernet, 3 PCI expansion slots, one front and one rear IEEE FireWire ports and 4 USB 2.0 ports. The real treat with the PCV-RS220 system is the included 2X DVD-R/CD-RW drive and a separate CD-ROM drive. For complete specifications please click on the specs tab above and below this review. Included with the Sony VAIO PCV-RS220 system is two multimedia speakers, a keyboard and a Sony style mouse with scroll wheel.

As with every Sony VAIO system currently available, Sony packs the PCV-RS220 with their own Sony original software including DVD creation, Picture Gear Studio for digital photos, DVgate for digital video making, Sonic Stage for Music playback and VAIO Media which is for network file sharing. The PCV-RS220 features Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition as the operating system.

3rd party software includes: Corel Office suite 2002, Intuit’s Quicken 2003, Veritas RecordNow, Apple QuickTime, Real Networks media player and MacAfee’s Security center with virus scanning software. Overall the software package feels about right for a commercially available system like this, but is not overwhelming with shareware and software you will most likely never need..

Sony is offering a one year parts and labor warranty on the PCV-RS220 system with registration or 90 days without it. Telephone support is limited to 90 days for software related questions; certainly on the skimpy side.

Performance

In our 3D benchmarking tests the PCV-RS220 ran neck and neck with the PCV-W20 system which also utilizes onboard graphics although provided by SiS, not Intel. You can clearly see by looking at the graphs on the performance page that any system with integrated graphics will struggle when compared to a system with a stand alone graphics processor. In the CPU benchmark tests, the PCV-RS220 ran about average for its processor speed, trailing the Gateway Media Center PC only slightly despite the Gateway system costing more than $200 over the PCV-RS220. Please click on the performance tab for complete tests and explanations. Overall the performance of the PCV-RS220 system is nothing to shine on.

System Configurations:

Sony VAIO PCV-RS220

Windows XP Home Edition; 2.5GHz Intel P4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; Intel integrated 64MB shared graphics; Seagate 120GB ATA 100 7200 RPM HDD

Gateway Media Center XL

Windows XP Media Center Edition; 2.66GHz Intel P4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 400MHz; Nvidia GeForce4 MX 440G 128MB; Seagate 80GB7,200rpm


Sony VAIO PCV-W20

Windows XP Home Edition; 1.8GHz Intel P4; 512MB DDR SDRAM 266MHz; SiS integrated 32MB graphics; Samsung Spin Point SV0602H 60GB ATA 100 5400 RPM HDD

Setup and Use

The setup process on the PCV-RS220 is like any desktop featuring Microsoft’s Windows XP Home Edition operating system. Upon powering the system up, simply answer the questions pertaining to your home network and user information. Once you are through with the Microsoft setup process you will be prompted by both McAfee and Sony to register their software. The McAfee software prompts get tiresome rather quickly so if you do not plan on using their software, then we recommend uninstalling it altogether to avoid the constant message pop-ups which will continue to occur should you not register the software.

As always, we like to see a company create unique software for their computer systems and Sony does not dissapoint. Although Microsoft’s Windows XP Home Edition is a fine operating system, with Sony’s own software you are not limited to what is built into your computers operating system. Sony’s multimedia software for developing DVD’s, or simply capturing video or pictures, works very intuitively and will do fine for the novice user. Sony’s Sonic Stage, although a good program for playing networked music, still is unable to support streaming internet music requiring you to use Windows Media Player for internet play lists.

The overall outside design and look of the PCV-RS220 is very pleasing and conforms to the rest of the Sony VAIO desktop line. The front face of the PCV-RS220 features a brushed silver surface with rounded corners located at the top of the system. On the bottom of the front of the PCV-RS220 there is a cover which opens with a slight push. Located behind the cover are two USB 2.0 ports and a single IEEE FireWire port, perfect for those with camcorders or other digital devices. Both of the DVD/CD-ROM drives are located behind a door giving the system a stream-lined look.   Closing the CD/DVD drives are difficult because once the drive bay door is open, you are forced to nudge the drive trays to close it. The doors button is rendered useless while open. While the outside of the PCV-RS220 gives a great impressions, the inside is another story.

We thought we could get past the integrated graphics, but after looking at the inside of the PCV-RS220 system, we have to wonder how long a system like could stay current with the quickly evolving market. First of all, there are only 3 PCI expansion slots with a CNR (Communications Networking Riser) slot located below the 3rd PCI slot. It is this communications network slot in which the V.90 compatible modem is located. Unfortunately because this CNR slot is located so close to the 3rd PCI slot, you may have a hard time finding a PCI card to fit in it. One may wonder what you would need a PCI slot for since everything is integrated onto the systems motherboard?  A quick brainstorm brings to mind wireless networking cards, Bluetooth cards, SCSI cards, soundcards and a plethora of other devices. The PCV-RS220 uses (2) 256MB memory sticks which means if you would like to add more memory to this system, you will have to forego one of the memory sticks in favor of a larger one. Other than the 3 PCI expansion slots, the only room left for upgrading is an open 3.5″ drive bay should you decide to add another hard drive to the system. Overall we were very disappointed with the upgradeability of the PCV-RS220 system.

The inside reveals little in the way of upgradeability

The peripherals that come with the Sony VAIO PCV-RS220 system could certainly use some work. The keyboard for starters features minimal hot keys limiting you to only volume and sleep buttons. All of the keys on the keyboard feel very mushy and cheap with little travel while typing. The mouse also gives off a feeling of lesser quality as Sony decided to include a mouse with a ball rather than using an optical sensor. Both the keyboard and mouse are connected to the system through the PS2 ports located on the back of the computer. The included multimedia speakers appear to be thrown in to complete the system and feature a measly .5 Watts per speaker and no subwoofer is included.

Performance

In our 3D benchmarking tests the PCV-RS220 ran neck and neck with the PCV-W20 system which also utilizes onboard graphics although provided by SiS, not Intel. You can clearly see by looking at the graphs on the performance page that any system with integrated graphics will struggle when compared to a system with a stand alone graphics processor. In the CPU benchmark tests, the PCV-RS220 ran about average for its processor speed, trailing the Gateway Media Center PC only slightly despite the Gateway system costing more than $200 over the PCV-RS220. Please click on the performance tab for complete tests and explanations. Overall the performance of the PCV-RS220 system is nothing to shine on.

Conclusion

When there are so many desktop options in the $999 market, it is hard to recommend the Sony VAIO PCV-RS220 system as the one to go with. With no video expansion possibilities and very little in the way of expansion ports and bays, the PCV-RS220 should be priced lower than what it currently is. Once you add a monitor to the system, the overall price will raise significantly. A quick search on the internet or your local electronics store will reveal better alternatives from the likes of DELL and Gateway, complete with monitor and more expansion for the same price. There is no doubt that the PCV-RS220 system will be a hot seller with Sony’s nameplate on the front of the system, and if you absolutely must have a Sony, pay a little more and get a system in Sony’s RZ line.

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