Lenovo seems to be one of the few companies dedicated towards the all-in-one desktop segment as they constantly keep updating their line up. The last PC we reviewed was their IdeaCenter B500, which was a powerful little beast, but it was a bit bulky and the styling was more 'in-your-face'. For those looking for a more sophisticated approach to their personal computing, Lenovo’s latest offering, the IdeaCenter A320 should be right up your alley. Lenovo has completely redesigned their new desktop and made it incredibly stylish. But does it have any substance? Let's find out.
Lenovo IdeaCenter A320
Design and Build quality
Lenovo seem to have given quite a bit of thought to the new design as it's a lot more ergonomic compared to their earlier models. The entire screen is supported on a single hinge that can swivel and tilt allowing you to adjust it to suit your sitting position. The screen is a 21.5-inch Full HD display with LED backlighting. The panel is protected by a glass that covers the bezel as well, giving it a seamless look. The quality of the panel is very good too and due to the glossy effect of the glass, the colours appear rich and crisp.
Minimilistic design looks good
The bezel also houses a webcam and microphone for web chats. Below, we have three white LED status lights for the HDD activity, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Over to the right, we have a bunch of touch sensitive menu buttons. I think this is the first time I'm actually seeing a menu system in an all-in-one. The sensitivity of the buttons could have been better as many times the touch is not registered. The options include brightness, Novo Vision which gives you access to three viewing modes, Mode Switch that lets you switch to HDMI or turn the screen off, Volume and OSD language.
USB 3.0 is a big plus
The rest of the components are tucked into the base of the desktop. All the ports are lined up along the side and extend all the way to the back. Connectivity includes two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jack, memory card reader, HDMI-in and HDMI-out, which is a first for an all-in-one. Overall, I really liked Lenovo's new design, It's fresh and different from all the other all-in-ones in the market.
The A320 is powered by Intel’s newest Core i3 2310M mobile chipset based on the Sandy Bridge architecture. Other components include 3GB RAM, 750GB hard drive, external DVD burner, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a wireless keyboard and mouse. I don’t like the fact that Lenovo has chosen a mobile chipset, since they just don’t perform as well as their desktop counterparts. Also, the fact that there’s no discrete graphics card means you can forget about playing any serious 3D games. Older games like Half Life 2, GRID, etc. should work fine. I guess Lenovo didn't really have a choice with the components, since if they had gone with desktop grade parts, it wouldn't have fit in this design.
The entire PC sits in the base of the desktop
The keyboard and mouse connect via Radio Frequency (RF), but I found that they would lose sync intermittently, which was kind of annoying. The mouse is comfortable, albeit a bit small for a desktop mouse and it’s not very ergonomic. I didn’t like the keyboard very much. The keys are too soft and many times the inputs weren’t registered. Seeing this is a desktop, Lenovo could have bundled a proper full-sized keyboard instead of a laptop-styled one.
The mobile version of Intel's Core i3 is good enough for regular tasks like Internet surfing, Office applications and some multimedia like HD video playback or encoding. Just don't expect to do any serious gaming or graphic designing work.
Performance is good for general usage and some light multimedia activities
General and Multimedia Usage
The A320 makes a good desktop for everyday use and a bit of multimedia as well. Windows runs smoothly on the configuration at hand and so do Full HD movies. The glossy screen does attract reflections, but it makes the pictures and video a lot more lively and richer. The built-in speakers come with SRS enhancement, which makes the sound louder, but not by much. Also, the quality of the sound is weak, since the speakers are placed beneath the base and face downwards.
The remote for cable TV and WMC
Other than a bit of Office work, surfing and some multimedia, you can’t really do any serious gaming, which is a bit unfortunate since this isn't exactly cheap. You can watch cable TV through the provided port and Lenovo bundles a remote as well to go with it. This also works with Windows Media Center with dedicated keys and everything. The extra HDMI connector means you can easily connect a DVD player or a gaming console using the same display.
The A320 goes for a street price of Rs. 50,990, which offers better value than the B500 as it’s a bit cheaper and more feature-rich. The design is more ergonomic and you can finally use the screen with another device like a DVD player or gaming console thanks to the extra HDMI-in port. The quality of the screen is also very good, which makes it a good multimedia PC.
However, it’s still a bit expensive and here’s why. For starters, Lenovo have gone with a mobile version of the Core i3 processor, which is a bit underpowered for a desktop. Also, the lack of a dedicated graphics card means you won’t be able to do any serious gaming, so once again your usage is limited. Other areas of concern are the built-in speakers, which aren’t too loud or clear and the keyboard is not a full- sized one.
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