The Bottom Line
May 20 2013 - Lenovo certainly has a unique experience in store for those willing to try out the IdeaCentre Horizon and they should be lauded for trying something new. The ability to use a computer as a table between multiple people is definitely different and has lots of potential. To get this experience though, many compromises are made including performance akin to an ultrabook and a design that while portable is still difficult to transport. The biggest hurdle it has though is the price which puts it among the premium level of all-in-one desktops but only with its table experience going for it.
- Unique Design Well Suited To Multiple Person Use
- Ability to Be Used Away From Power Socket
- Large Number of Bundled Touchscreen Programs
- Expensive When Compared Against Other All-In-Ones
- Only Two USB Ports
- Fairly Low Computing Performance
- Intel Core i5-3337U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 1TB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 27" WUXGA (1920x1080) Multitouch Display With NVIDIA GeForce GT 620M 2GB Graphics
- Intel HDA Audio With Stereo Speakers
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0 Ports, HDMI-in, 6-in-1 Card Reader, 720p Webcam
- 27.2" x 17" x 1.2"
- Windows 8, Lenovo Aura
Review - Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27-inch
May 20 2013 - Lenovo is really trying to do something different with the IdeaCentre Horizon with the concept of a table PC. Essentially, this is a cross between a traditional all-in-one desktop computer, a mobile computer and a tablet. In terms of its appearance, it looks like a 27-inch monitor with a fairly large border around the screen. It has a raised lip that surrounds the front edge and a metal stand that folds out of the back that allows it to stand upright or can be folded back flat for its tablet mode. One note about the stand is that it is spring loaded which means carrying it can be difficult.
In terms of performance, the IdeaCentre Horizon is not going to be as powerful as other traditional all-in-one systems because it has to rely on lower power components for when it operates in its table mode without an AC power source. To achieve this, Lenovo has elected to use the Intel Core i5-3337U dual core processor that is typically used with ultrabooks. The processors is matched up with 8GB of memory. Now this means it lacks some performance for more demanding tasks and it does seem to stutter at times when moving between programs but on the whole it is sufficient for those just using their PC to browse the web, watch or listen to streaming media, using some productivity software or some casual style games.
The storage is provided by a spacious one terabyte hard drive but this does hold back the computer a bit. It spins at a 5400rpm rate and does not have any form of solid state cache which is becoming more common for higher end systems. The result is that booting into Windows from a full powered down state can take three quarters of a minute to complete. Now if this is not enough storage space, there are two high speed USB 3.0 ports that can be used for high speed external storage. The problem is that there are just two ports and one of these is used by the wireless adapter for the mouse and keyboard leaving just one available. The system really needs additional USB ports or buyers planning to use it with many peripherals in desktop mode should invest in a USB 3.0 hub. Like many other mobile computers and some desktops, there is no optical drive in the IdeaCentre Horizon.
The display is a very integral part of the IdeaCentre Horizon as it is the primary interface. The 27-inch display is nice and bright and offers some very good viewing angles. The native resolution of the screen is just 1920x1080 which is a bit low when you consider other all-in-one's such as Apple's iMac 27-inch and Dell XPS One 27 both feature 2560x1440 displays. Part of this resolution choice might have to do with the application support though. The multitouch aspect of the screen works but there seems to be a bit of lag at times especially in some of the more frenetically paced games. The graphics are handled by an NVIDIA GeForce GT 620M mobile graphics processor with NVIDIA Optimus. This is not really suited for 3D PC gaming on it but does provide some acceleration for many non-3D applications.
One of the big focuses of the Aura interface is games that can be played with multiple people. In fact, Lenovo bundles the system with a set of peripheral accessories including some strikers, joysticks and an E-dice. The striker and joysticks are fairly simple devices that either glide or attach to the screen and act as a conduit instead of ones finger. It certainly seems to keep the screen cleaner but when trying the various games I found using one's fingers easier. The E-dice is much more interesting as it is an accelerometer based cube that can interface through a dongle to sync with select games to act as the physical die for the game. In practice, it does work but any motion will start the die rolling and stopping it for a while ends the roll. With a small child, this often meant that the die was rolled for multiple players by accident. In addition, it can be fairly easy to make it roll the number you want so beware of cheating. For a more random dice roll, having the system do it via touch is more random even if less physical.
While the system can be portable to move it between a desktop and a dining room table for some family games, the size and weight of the system is something to be aware of. While thin, the 27-inch display makes it quite wide and the 17 pound weight can be significant if you might have to move it between floors of a home. Lenovo does supply a bag with handle for short distance carrying but keep the shipping strap that holds down the kickstand as you will want to use this to secure the stand so the system is flat whenever moving it. Just be aware from removing it as I mentioned earlier that the stand is spring based.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon is a truly unique computer system that doesn't really have any direct competition. As a strict desktop, the Dell XPS 27 with touchscreen is probably the closest but it certainly offers more in terms of performance as it doesn't have to worry about being used off AC power and the low power components necessary to do it. On the other hand, a device like Microsoft's Surface Pro could achieve similar goals but it is a much smaller size meant for only a single user maybe for two people at once for a game.
Pricing for the IdeaCentre Horizon starts around $1499 and goes up to roughly $1899 with an average price tag of roughly $1699 for the typical configuration like in this review. This puts it on the upper end of pricing for a touchscreen based all-in-one desktop PC. It also is going to be a large hurdle for many buyers who can get a nicely equipped touchscreen all-in-one for under $1000 and a nice tablet PC for the difference between the two. Either Lenovo will likely need to drop the price or find a few more compelling uses for the system to really attract consumers.