Expensive PCs were supposed be a thing of the past, but Sony has clearly not heard the news. The company has just announced what must be the most expensive non-gaming PC of the year, the US$5,000 RM1N.
In defense of the RM1N, it is aimed keen amateurs with a need to work with high-definition video, and comes with a top-of-the-range specification to prove it. Featuring the 4-core Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 processor running at 2.4 GHz at its heart, with 2GB of RAM and the graphics-crunching NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS with 256Mb of graphics memory, this machine is no slouch for the money.
As usual for Sony, the system is attractive, clad in acres of dark, sophisticated plastic, precisely the look that appeals to Mac users, and might even pull some of them over to the dark side of the PC. Vista Business is installed as standard, which might not.
The unusual element of the design is the decision to divide the machine into two separate units. The larger box has the motherboard, processor, main memory and graphics, while a smaller unit contains the optical drives, in this case a 50 GB Blu-Ray burner and separate DVD reader/writer.
Presumably, the designers just couldn't fit all the technology into a single unit without making it an annoying hunk of black plastic and metal, but there could also be other considerations at work. The system has 1 terabytes of hard disk space, configured using two SATA drives and through a RAID 0 controller. Getting all this hardware into one box would tax any PC designer.
Off-loading the optical drives -- and perhaps eventually the disk drives themselves - into a companion box might be an increasingly necessary trend given the storage demands of today's PCs.
"The VAIO RM1N will exert a unique appeal for those needing serious HD editing capability," said Chris Trewhitt of Sony UK, without explaining how many ordinary PC users might have such a specific need.
"It has quad-core processing power, professional software pre-installed, a specialized Jog controller for speeding up editing, and it has Blu-ray disc. So once you're done you can record 50GB of high-definition video on a single-sided disc. That is an indispensable feature for an HD workstation."
The company stock photograph shows a 19 inch wide-screen monitor, but this is not in fact part of the package. Adobe Premiere Pro 2.0, however, is included in the price. Sony's RM1N will be available from mid-July.