Lenovo's 27in all-in-one stands tall against its iMac benchmark. But can it go one step beyond?
Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 – overview
Apple's iMac may still be the best put-together all-in-one out there, but thanks to its fairly rigid stand it's not the most flexible of friends for your desk. Imagine a similarly sized 27inch machine with a more powerful processor and an even sleeker design that can go up, down and even fold down flat on itself, and you've got the IdeaCentre A720 from Lenovo.
A promising start, does it live up to initial expectations?
The 27inch panel that sits atop the A720 has a 10-point multitouch surface so you can manipulate objects and type with both hands if you wish. It can be a little slow to react, but this is a problem with Windows 7 rather than the A720. Come October, a £15 upgrade to Windows 8 should iron out any lag related issues.
Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 – muiltitouch screen
A touchscreen on a static PC isn't essential yet, but the beauty of the A720 is that will fold back flat, so that the screen is parallel to the desktop. The novelty of playing Air Hockey on your own virtual arcade table may pale quickly, but as a tool for artists or putting together a presentation it's hard to think how it could be improved. There's even a virtual piano app for indulging your creative side without leaving your desk. The boss will be pleased.
However you use the screen, the stand will keep it fixed in position. What's more, because the processor, motherboard and hard drives are in the base, there's plenty of weight down below to keep it steady too. Moving the components into the base also means that Lenovo can make the most of the LED backlight – the screen itself is pleasantly thin and light to move around.
Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 – stand
The quad core processor and discrete graphics give the Lenovo plenty of kick, and mean it's capable of getting all but the most demanding games up and running, too. The only downside is that they do require a bit of cooling – the fan is always audible, which is a pain compared to the silent iMac. If Lenovo had allowed the Intel graphics chip (which is present but unused to take over when not running 3D apps) that could probably have been avoided.
The A720 is a joy, then, and affordable too. But once the initial charm wears off you will notice a couple of faults. The body work is coloured plastic rather than aluminium, for example, and at 1920x1080 the resolution is really too low for a display this size. Films look great via the built in Blu-ray player, but desktop work and games look noticeably stretched out and blotchy.
Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 – hefty base
Although it's held back by Windows 7's limited touch screen abilities, the A720 is almost worth buying now and spending the extra £15 for an upgrade to Windows 8 later on, and the Metro interface of that OS will be perfect for it. Outside of the multitouch features, though, the screen is just too low res to get a faultless recommendation.
As a result of its low pixel count everything suffers, from colour quality to text edges – and it leaves the A720 feeling slightly overpriced despite its interesting design. We're tempted to say hold off for version two, which could be the ultimate all-in-one.
Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 – performance
Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 – design
Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 – verdict
Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 review
An innovative, practical design that offers respectable performance and a not too painful price tag. With a higher-res screen it could be the ultimate all-in-one