Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 £1400
25th Oct 2012 | 23:00
The thinnest all-in-one touchscreen PC yet
Should evidence still be needed to show that the PC has moved beyond the traditional grey or black box, this is it. The stylish Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 is the thinnest all-in-one touchscreen PC and it's ready for Windows 8.
It's no matter of style over substance either. With Intel's top-end Core i7 processor inside, it'll have more than enough poke to carry out everything from office work to video calling, movie watching, gaming and much, much more. However, you do pay for this performance with the A720's hefty £1,400 UK (around AU$2,171) and $1,729 US price tag.
But, while many PCs still use cheaper materials, this feels like it's straight from the school of high-design. The whole base and monitor casing is made from aluminium, with a glass panel. Various controls such as volume and brightness are dotted around the screen on the edge of the glass - they're touch-sensitive rather than having buttons underneath.
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Disappointingly, the screen doesn't tilt back enough to go flat - unlike on several other all-in-one PCs such as the new touch-enabled Dell XPS 27 - but it does tilt to a nice 45-degree angle, so it's ideal for many home uses. It has a 95-degree viewing angle, so you can certainly have several people around the screen without issue.
The base of the computer is rather heavy, but then this isn't designed to be a portable device, and it makes manoeuvring the screen a whole lot easier - it would be poor if you needed to hold down the base every time you tilted the screen. Unlike some other all-in-ones such as Apple's iMac, the PC is in the base rather than behind the screen itself.
Entertainment is the name of the game here. As well as a Blu-ray/DVD combo drive, the addition of two HDMI ports - both in and out - is welcome, so you can use the IdeaCentre as a display to connect up to a games console or a device such as an Apple TV.
There's also an integrated Freeview TV tuner, so you can plug in a TV antenna feed, while there's wired or wireless internet connectivity and a memory card slot for transferring your digital photos into Windows 8. The sound from the Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 is beefy and doesn't disappoint, thanks to the integrated Dolby Home Theatre-powered speakers.
In terms of storage, you get a huge 1TB drive - more than enough for all the family's photos, games and other media. There are plenty of options for connecting up external devices, including Bluetooth and four USB ports, two of which are of the newer and faster USB 3.0 type.
This is great, except the included keyboard and mouse need one for a receiver, while the included media remote control receiver also needs another. It would have been a lot better to have all these things built-in.
The remote control is a nice addition and, while the buttons are a little plasticky, it's quite good for flicking through music or other media.
The screen has a Full HD resolution, so you can play back Blu-ray discs at the resolution that was intended, as well as take advantage of the great graphics in the very latest games. The display features something that Lenovo calls a Dynamic Brightness System - essentially providing protection for your eyes by automatically adjusting screen brightness based on the ambient light conditions.
An alert will also tell you if you're too close to the screen - something that can be a problem with large touchscreens.
Sadly, the premium feel doesn't quite extend to the keyboard and mouse. The keyboard is reasonable enough and is more comfortable to type on than its Apple equivalent, but the mouse is plasticky and not at all what you'd expect from a device of this undoubted quality.
The good news is that, with Windows 8, the touch keyboard and other controls mean that for most tasks you won't need separate input devices and we think you'll find yourself using the mouse less and less due to the inviting interface.
As a home entertainment PC it's a real winner - especially if you want to combine your TV and PC into a single device. As a home touch PC for Windows 8 it's also exemplary and its competence with movies and media will be hard to surpass, if you can afford the high asking price.