A reasonably priced all-in-one with a 21.5in multitouch monitor and a triple-core CPU. It that enough to love the Lenovo?
The first thing you won't notice about Levono's multitouch IdeaCentre B305 is the noise. Other all-in-ones overcome the challenge of squashing PC components behind a hot monitor by adding a thousand whirring fans. The B305 boasts Zen-like tranquility compared to its brutishly mechanical peers.
The B305 isn't quite as quiet as an iMac, but it's silent enough that if there's any background sound in the room you won't hear it unless you want to. Noise or not, though, the Lenovo is going to have to do something else to attract attention against so many rivals.
The Acer Aspire Z5610 is the same price with a bigger screen, the Asus Eee Top is lower specced but cheaper and the Sony Vaio L has a quad-core option for gaming performance. Lenovo's own B500 is thinner and more attractive, while Apple's iMac is better for everything except for the multitouch screen.
The 21.5in screen isn't a super-accurate IPS affair like the iMac's, but it does have a fair amount of punchy brightness and rich colour for the price. The multitouch tracking is spot-on accurate and lag free, too.
That doesn't quite make up for the inherent difficulty of getting around the poky Windows desktop with your fingers, but it does mean it's prepared for the age of touchscreen apps even if – on the PC at least – you're better off looking for the age of Aquarius right now.
Behind the glass there's an unusual three-core CPU and a Radeon graphics chip which, together, provide just about enough power for gaming.
You'll need to tone the graphics settings down on anything newer than World of Warcraft, but it's got the edge over similarly priced all-in-ones like the Acer Z5610 and can claim superiority over the more expensive 21.5in iMac.
It's not going to win any performance prizes, but the B305 is fair value for money based on components alone.
From a design point of view, things aren't so positive for the B305. The glossy plastic frame would just about make it past the doorman at O'Neil's on a Friday night, but could never be described as classy. The stand is the same A-type prop sticking out of the back that Windows all-in-ones inevitable rest on, despite the clear advantages of a proper support like – damn, we said it again – the iMac.
Below the screen, the large black speaker unit is distracting to look at and only marginally better to listen to. It's not as bad as some built-in speakers, but you'll want to use headphones for Spotify.
Oddly, there's a brightness control in the front panel and media buttons keyboard, but no manual volume control anywhere.
On the subject of the keyboard, don't look down when you're typing. Both keyboard and mouse are the worst kind of generic plastic tat. The former is the first we've seen to use the more old-fashioned PS2 port, rather than USB, for years.
New keyboards are cheap enough, though, and built-in Bluetooth means you're free to upgrade to a wireless one, too. If you're after a relatively good-value all-in-one you and don't mind compromising on some design details, the IdeaCentre B305 is a strong, silent choice.
Lenovo IdeaCentre B305 review
A far from cutting-edge looker, but a fair compromise between size and performance for the price