It was way back at CES in January when we first laid eyes on (see the video!) Lenovo’s newest – and perhaps craziest – push. The IdeaCentre Horizon was a 27-inch all-in-one desktop. Lenovo called it a table PC (not a tablet), and for good reason. The 27-inch Horizon can recline completely flat against a desk or table, making its 10-finger capacitive touchscreen far more pleasant to use.
What helps set the Horizon apart, however, is that in addition to its exceeding flexible placement options, it also has a rechargeable battery. It’s like an iPad on steroids – the battery keeps Lenovo’s IdeaCentre powered on while you move it from desk to table to counter to desk. Given the large size, you’re not going to get much done away from an outlet; Lenovo says to expect no more than two hours.
When it comes to hardware, the IdeaCentre is nearly spot on. It’s attractive for sure, with a sleek, black, edge-to-edge sheet of glass covering the front of the unit. The edge gently slopes outward on all four edges, ending with a rubber trim – a sensible choice considering you might be propping this up from nearly any direction.
There’s a collapsible stand on the back, and while Lenovo did a pretty good job of making it easy to use, there are a couple of flaws. It’s difficult to set the IdeaCentre down on anything aside from a large, firm surface, plus it makes carrying the system around something of a pain. You can’t lock the stand down in either direction, and you can’t really use it as a handle, either – but it does do a good job of making the system easy to lie down at any angle.
The other major frustration I had with the system was with Lenovo’s custom software suite. Known as Aura, the program takes over the standard Windows desktop and gives it a finger-friendly launcher for multitouch games and apps. Aside from the launcher in the middle, Aura was buggy, slow, and often incomprehensible, with buttons and icons doing unexpected things. It doesn’t integrate with either Windows 8’s Desktop or Windows 8’s Start screen very well – and Lenovo almost forces you to use it by neglecting to add any of Aura’s special apps to the Start screen.
Still, if you stick to the Windows 8 interface, the experience is much more pleasant. Inside of the Horizon is an Intel Core i5 CPU, and more than enough RAM to ensure that the computer is responsive and fluid. A computer like this wouldn’t have been very usable before Windows 8, and despite the dearth of good multitouch apps in the Windows Store, the software as a whole is far more friendly to touchscreens than anything that came before.
Be sure to stop back in the coming days for our full review, where we’ll deliver benchmarks for the IdeaCentre Horizon, as well as go into detail about the underlying problems – and benefits – with the desktop’s experience.