With all the attention tablets, ultrabooks, and hybrids got after the release of Windows 8, you'll be forgiven for ditching a completely different class of computers that has benefited a lot from Microsoft's new touch-enabled operating system: the all- in-one.
These machines were originally marketed as space-saving computers for areas with limited real estate such as a college dorm room or a compact office. However, as we approached Windows 8, several manufacturers jumped the gun and released all-in-one touch-based devices on Windows 7 – an operating system that was released four years before the iPad and the onslaught of touchable devices.
Before Windows 8, touch-based systems literally worked, but were not very practical and often came with an alternate user interface to justify the use of touch. Simply put, the hardware and technology were there, but the software was a generation or two back.
This changed with Windows 8 and the Metro interface. With the development of Windows came the development of the all-in-one system, at least according to Lenovo. The company's IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC uses the touch capabilities of Windows 8 with a social touch – it lights up as a Microsoft Surface (the table, not the tablet) that can be used by the whole family for a "fun evening in" as Lenovo describes it.
Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27-inch – $ 1,350
- 27-inch LED 10-point multi-touch display
(1,920 x 1,080)
- Intel Core i5 3337U
(1.8 – 2.7 GHz, dual-core Ivy bridge)
- Intel HD Graphics 4000
- Nvidia GeForce GT 620M
- 6 GB DDR3
- Windows 8 64-bit
- 1 TB hard drive with 5400 rpm
- 802.11 b / g / n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
- Integrated 720p HD camera
- HDMI input, 2x USB 3.0, 6-in-1 card reader
- 3.5mm audio input, microphone jack, stereo speakers
- 8-cell lithium polymer battery (~ 2 hours)
- 16.90 x 27.20 x 1.17 in
- 17.8 pounds
Our 27-inch test device was equipped with Intel's third generation Core i5-3337U processor with 1.8 GHz, 8 GB DDR3 memory, Nvidia GeForce GT 620M graphics with 2 GB memory, a hard disk with 1 TB and 5400 U / min and Broadcom 802.11 b / g / n supplied Wi-Fi, an 8-cell lithium polymer battery, and Bluetooth 4.0.
All variants of the Horizon Table PC come with Windows 8 64-bit, a range of touch-oriented gaming accessories, and a wireless keyboard and mouse.
The desktop PC differs slightly in design from conventional all-in-one devices, as it does not contain a stand or a base. Instead, the machine looks more like an oversized picture frame as it relies on a single spring-loaded support bar on the back to prop it up for desktop use. This design places the display in the front and center and looks a bit more appealing than having a chunky base to deal with.
The 10-point multi-touch LED display measures 27 inches diagonally and works with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 (16: 9 widescreen). There is a large black bezel around the display and a rubber bezel on the outer edge. On the lower left side of the front bezel is the system notification bar with hard drive activity indicator, Bluetooth indicator, Wi-Fi indicator, and battery status LED. On the opposite side are touch-sensitive controls for screen orientation, display brightness, and volume control. A 720p webcam is located directly above the display and is flanked by two microphones.
The system's power switch is located on the left edge of the machine and is conveniently out of sight, but not out of reach. On the back of the desktop PC are the typical certification stickers and so on, as well as the spring-loaded stand, four rubber feet that are used when the system is laid flat in "share mode", and a set of stereo speakers with Dolby Home Theater V4.
All I / O ports are on the right side of the system. From top to bottom we have a microphone jack, a headphone jack, a 6-in-1 card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MS, MS-Pro), two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI input and a DC input jack . The HDMI input allows you to use the PC's display with a game console or as a main TV in conjunction with a cable or satellite set-top box.
Unlike some of the other all-in-ones we've looked at, this one doesn't include an optical drive. This is a trend that we are seeing more and more as digital downloads are the most popular method of acquiring software today.
As with other all-in-ones I've worked with, the Lenovo desktop PC is extremely easy to set up and use. The included wireless keyboard and mouse connect to the computer via a single USB dongle, even though you only have two USB ports. By using these two peripherals, you are limited to a single free slot.
This is likely a problem, as it was the case with me when I had to plug in my external optical drive to install Far Cry 2. Since the optical drive requires two USB ports, I had to unplug the USB dongle for the keyboard and mouse and use the system's touch surface to install the game. Had this not been a touch-enabled PC, things would have been a little more difficult.
Also, you will likely get tired of using the included input accessories and want to replace them with something more convenient and of higher quality. They do the job, but they aren't particularly fun to use for long periods of time. Obviously, when you upgrade to an aftermarket keyboard and mouse, you are consuming all of the device's USB ports. An included USB hub would have been a nice addition, but as you'll find out, that's not the only sore point we found with the IdeaCentre Horizon's hardware configuration.