Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC review

Running battery benchmarks on a Windows 8 All in One? We're in undiscovered territory now…

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To be fair to Lenovo, there are some interesting possibilities here, but in an era where we're more accustomed to passing a tablet around to play instead of sitting around a bigger device, it's hard to imagine these possibilities being realized anytime soon.

We liked

The Horizon's 27-inch screen is easily its best attribute. It's big, it's bright, it's beautiful, and the multi-touch functions work well in a dedicated touch environment.

Aesthetically, the Horizon is attractive enough, even if the extra-wide bezel adds to its size. In the AIO category, simple is good, and Lenovo nails the look and feel here perfectly.

It's a small thing, but we love the decision to integrate a smaller 8GB SSD cache into the hard drive. In comparison to other similarly built systems, it does appear to offer a little extra kick in OS performance.

Finally, we love what the IdeaCentre represents: creative, progressive design and thinking from a PC manufacturer. The fact that Lenovo is pushing the envelope in terms of PC form and function is a good thing. It may not pay off here and now—the notion of a table-top PC with a battery-only mode doesn't feel super relevant today. But in time, who knows?

One other thing: We were greatly impressed by the Horizon's Battery Eater benchmark performance. The fact that it has a battery at all is impressive enough. The fact that it can run for two hours unplugged is even better.

We disliked

We're not typically fans of custom OS skins, but in this case, it's justifiable. Windows doesn't have a table-top mode (unless you count the original Surface), so Lenovo had to create one.

This won't change the fact that developer support will be negligible. This will be a problem for people who buy this PC for the table-top games and other functions.

More than anything else, however, we wish the IdeaCentre had more kick to it. Aside from the need to preserve battery life (which is a small percentage of likely use cases), there's no good reason for Lenovo to not have used a faster CPU and GPU. In this day and age of thermally efficient processors, we're surprised we're not seeing faster All in Ones.

Another thing we don't like is the Horizon's weight, which is typical for an All in One, but at just under 19 pounds, doesn't exactly make this a portable system. Room to room, yes, but not over long distances.

Finally, we're still concerned that for systems like this, Windows 8 remains a limiting factor. Like a lot of other Win8 devices we've tested, the Horizon exposed some fairly egregious flaws. We're learning how to live without the Start button, but here's another example: While logging into our guest network, we were prompted with a password prompt. But no virtual keyboard came up—despite the fact that no keyboard was connected to the system.

It's a small pain, but Windows 8 systems should automatically know that if there is no physical keyboard attached, the OS should bring up the virtual keyboard in all instances where text input is required.

Final Verdict

First off, if you're looking for an All in One that can run on a battery, look no further. The IdeaCentre Horizon 27 is the only one.

As it stands, the Horizon feels like a prototype device that has the benefit of also being a nice-looking All in One that can lie flat.

We use the word prototype because it's not clear that the computing world needs a tablet that is integrated into (or rests on top of) a table. With this system, Lenovo is attempting to prove that we do.

This said, 10 years ago, no one but Microsoft and a few of its PC-building partners thought that the world needed tablets, so who knows?

There are some other interesting long-term implications of this system's design. First, a battery-powered AIO is a great idea. We expect to see more of this in the future.

Second, a slimmer (or flexible) display would make this kind of device more practically, and possibly even a winner down the road. If you accept the notion that someday soon, computers will be integrated into all sorts of everyday objects like furniture, tables, and more, then the Horizon begins to make more sense.

Finally, Lenovo is engineering some surprisingly innovative PC products these days. Not every one of its products will be successful, but there's really no other way to move into the new age of computing we're all heading towards except to dive in. It's a lesson other PC manufacturers would do well to consider.