Display and speakers
The IdeaCentre A700 includes a 23-inch, widescreen 1080p display. This display is powered by a TN panel, which, as we’ve covered in previous reviews, excels at refresh rates and input lag but sacrifices a bit of viewability. Still, TN+ technology has come a long way, and the A700 has easily acceptable viewing angles – horizontal areas are great, while vertical viewing angles are good, and certainly enough to please most people.
The speakers, unfortunately, are a bit of a different story. While the sound quality coming out of them is generally acceptable, if not mind-blowing, the A700 emits an audible whine. Anyone who’s stuck headphones or speakers into a motherboard with poor quality audio hardware will instantly recognize the dirty audio signal.
For most of the review, they were just turned all the way off; the alternative was too annoying.
One really great aspect of this A700, however, is its dual-ustse nature. As mentioned, the desktop has both audio and video out AND in ports. Using it as solely a monitor means that users are left without the software controls that Windows provides, and so Lenovo built a series of capacitive touch buttons into the lower-right hand corner of the display’s frame.
The ‘buttons’ control the hardware audio levels, brightness, picture mode (movie, text, etc.), input source and power – you can turn the display off without turning off the computer. That’s a nice feature for an all-in-one to hand, even though most don’t.
In addition, this display offers up to two-finger multitouch, enabled via a technology known as surface acoustic wave, or SAW. Unlike some other all-in-ones – including Lenovo’s own – the touchscreen on the A700 was something of a pain to use. Not only is the glass of the screen not really coated for use with fingers (the surface creates an unpleasant drag on the finger) but the touch itself was sometimes frustrating.
In order to make taps register, it required a firmer touch than what some touchscreen users are used to, and dragging icons or cursors with the touchscreen resulted in haphazard performance.
Keyboard and mouse
Lenovo includes a wireless keyboard and mouse with the IdeaCentre A700, both connected via Bluetooth. The mouse is a pretty standard wireless laser mouse, with a scroll wheel and only left, middle (scroll) and right click buttons.
The keyboard is similarly well built, construced of a decent quality plastic. Interestingly, the included keyboard has its bottom keys as “Fn, Ctrl, Alt…”, just like on a Lenovo ThinkPad.
Power and noise
The IdeaCentre A700 may use a number of notebook components in order to cut down on heat generated and therefore how much power the unit consumes, but it still has a big, bright, 23-inch display, and that uses quite a bit of power.
On boot, the A700 pulled down a max of 89 watts of electricity. Sitting idle at a Windows desktop, after everything had finished logging in took 67W, and pushing things to the max drew down 142W of power.
The A700 is fairly quiet most of the time, though when the system is stressed, the fans do kick in. Most annoying was that whine that came from the speakers, regardless of how loud or quiet they were.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre A700 is a flawed, but well-intentioned desktop. With a substantial amount of technology behind its pretty, multitouch display, it makes a compelling case for purchase in a market that’s quickly becoming overrun with all-in-ones from every manufacturer that can muster them.
While Lenovo may be ready to overtake Apple in the all-in-one market, the A700 isn’t going to help them do it. Instead of competing with Apple for customers’ dollars, the A700 is going up against the likes of the HP TouchSmart, which seems to outclass it in terms of touchscreen responsiveness and capability – it’s important to note that Lenovo doesn’t offer anything nearly as feature-rich as HP’s TouchSmart software suite, which makes Windows a finger-friendlier place to live.
Still, if you need an all-in-one with a big display and reasonable power with occasional touchscreen use, the A700 deserves a look. Just be sure to buy it from a store with a reasonable return policy in case you experience the same speaker issues as our review unit did.
- Big screen
- TV tuner
- HDMI IN
- Quirky touchscreen
- Whining speakers