Review: Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27

The Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon belongs to a new breed of all-in-one computers that have appeared since the launch of Windows 8.

Dubbed tabletop PCs, these devices embrace the touch-centric interface of Windows 8 and have been described as a cross between tablets and desktop computers.

Such a PC usually has a built-in battery, freeing it from the wall socket.

You can even choose to carry it around like an oversized tablet.

In fact, the Lenovo Horizon managed two hours in our battery test.

But it is too awkward and heavy (8.6kg) to carry because it has a 27-inch screen. Compare this with the 18- or 20-inch displays on other tabletop PCs.

Fortunately, Lenovo includes a table cart, which is a table with wheels, for the Horizon, so you can wheel it around.

An adjustable kickstand at the back allows users to set the screen to any angle from zero to 90 degrees.

It is also strong enough to withstand forceful taps on the screen without wobbling too much.

Lenovo's secret sauce is the proprietary Aura interface that automatically pops up when it detects that the Horizon is lying on a flat surface. This radial-style interface allows multiple users to browse and edit photos and videos on the tabletop at the same time.

It also supports multitouch gestures, from pinch-to-zoom to a five-fingered push to clear the screen.

The fancy interface is merely a novelty if there are no apps that utilise it. For its part, Lenovo has preloaded a decent number of games and educational apps that can be launched from Aura, including Monopoly and Air Hockey.

Some of these apps even make use of the bundled gaming accessories - a set of strikers, joysticks and a digital die - to good effect.

Lenovo has also installed Bluestacks, which can run Android apps on PCs. Preloaded apps include Amazing Alex and Jetpack Joyride, although they may look less than sharp on a 27-inch screen than on a smartphone or tablet.

New apps (up to a total of 4GB) can be downloaded from Lenovo's app shop, which has a more limited selection than Google's official version.

The Horizon has only two USB 3.0 ports, which is barely sufficient when one of the ports is used for the bundled wireless keyboard and mouse.

There is neither an Ethernet port nor a built-in optical drive. I did like the HDMI input port that allows the Horizon to be used as a 27-inch monitor.

As a PC, the Horizon is competent but far from exciting. It uses a last-generation Intel Core i7 processor typically found in less-powerful ultrabooks, while the entry-level class Nvidia graphics card is more suited to casual gaming.

The 1TB hard drive feels ancient and slow - it took more than 30 seconds to boot up Windows 8 or about three times longer than a PC equipped with a solid-state drive.

The hard drive performance is probably the main reason for the Horizon's middling 2,897 score in PCMark 7.

Despite the software and bundled accessories, the Lenovo Horizon is pricey at $2,899 when you can get a more powerful all-in-one for much less. Now, things would be different if Lenovo manages to snag a major game title.

Monopoly is a good start, but what about Magic: The Gathering or The Settlers Of Catan?

If you are game to try something different, the Lenovo Horizon is a good first attempt at merging a PC with your coffee table.


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