You have to admire Sony's perseverance when it comes to hybrid TV/PCs. Its past attempts have been a touch hit-and-miss, but it keeps on trying. So has all the hard work finally paid off this time?
First impressions of the M1 don't exactly inspire confidence. It looks like a super-slim laptop with a cancerous lump on its rear. That lump contains the speakers and the dual-layer DVD /-RW drive, plus most of the connectors. As well as the usual Ethernet, USB and FireWire sockets, you'll also find proper audio and video phono connectors for hooking up an analogue video camera, and a socket for a standard TV aerial.
Unlike Sony's previous attempts at a PC/TV hybrid, the M1 does a decent job of handling telly. Granted, the tuner is analogue-only, so you're stuck with the standard five channels, but the interface and functionality have improved loads.
In TV mode, the machine responds quickly to commands from the remote control when you pause live broadcasts or switch between channels. The interface for the Sony VAIO application, which gives you access to the TV, music and video features, is also top-notch.
But it's not just TV performance that has improved; tunes also sound good. And the M1 is no slouch on the PC side either, with a 3GHz Pentium 4 processor and 512MB of RAM. Our only complaints are that it lacks the graphics punch to do justice to the latest games, and there's no on-board Wi-Fi. It's also a tad noisy at times. Despite these flaws, though, this is one of the best PC/TV packages around. It's not one of Sony's more beautiful creations, but functionality-wise, it's a winner.