User Experience

While I've never been fond of the three-toned silver, black, and tertiary orange styling Lenovo has employed on their Idea line of machines, I must concede that they get a lot right with the styling of the IdeaCentre A7. I'm not sold on the glossy finish of the display, but the edge-to-edge glass takes some of the, well, edge off. Meanwhile the aluminum shell of both the display and the base (where the guts of the computer itself are) is attractive and clean.

The hinge isn't quite as mobile as I'd like, but it gets the job done. What I'm less fond of is the port placement; there's just one USB port on the side, while the HDMI in and HDMI out ports are right next to it. Wouldn't it have been more logical to put a second USB port and the headphone and mic jacks on the side and move the HDMI ports to the back?

Where I think Lenovo does themselves in, and where I think Windows 8 is going to put a lot of this thing to bed, is in the glut of software included. Touch-based games are fine on small screens, but on a big one like this they can be a lot less enjoyable. I'm sure a lot of users will be happy to see games like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds included, but Lenovo's custom interface is sluggish and leaves something to be desired.

As I said, most of my complaints here are going to be solved by Windows 8. The reality is that companies like Lenovo, Dell, HP, Toshiba, and so on...they aren't software UI designers and it really shows in the applications that they have to install to justify the touchscreen, since Windows 7's interface ultimately isn't particularly touch friendly. However you feel about Windows 8 on the desktop, with touch interfaces it's going to be the right choice (as long as you life gorilla arms).

Heat and Noise

I can kvetch about the port placement on the body, but what Lenovo has really done right is the cooling system. Even under load, the IdeaCentre A7 is both cool and quiet, and it's worlds better than the wind tunnel that Dell's XPS One 2710 can become.

These thermals were produced under a fairly extreme stress test; under regular use the CPU temperatures topped out at the low 80s, and it's clear the A7 was designed for silence instead of cooling because it never produces anything more than a pretty low whooshing noise. Honestly I feel like they're benefitting tremendously from putting the computer hardware in the base instead of behind the display; they have to shrink it down and can't fit in a 3.5" drive, but everything runs cooler and quieter.

Power Consumption

Finally, one of the biggest wins for going with not just Ivy Bridge, but Ivy Bridge mobile hardware, is realized in the power the A7 draws. This is another point where I feel like Lenovo has a solid victory over competing all-in-ones with the IdeaCentre A7.

Idle Power Consumption

Load Power Consumption

Load power doesn't seem that great until you realize the IdeaCentre A7 is driving a 27" IPS display. The XPS One 2710's desktop chip takes its pound of flesh at both idle and load, though I'd probably eat the extra few watts the GDDR5 on the GPU consumes in exchange for the performance.

Screen Quality Conclusion: Everything's There, It Just Needs Touching Up
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  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    This AIO is definitely interesting. I like the looks of it. I think the hardware of AIOs should always be in the base instead of behind the display. The port location is strange but not a deal breaker. But they should have included an SSD of at least 128GB, maybe in turn cap the HDD at 500/750GB to offset cost. And that Geforce 630 is just insulting. If you go with an Intel CPU, give us a midway decent GPU as well. Or give us the option to go with AMD Trinity. I hope you can get some AIOs with Trinity to review (if there even are some).

    On another note: 3k+ contrast on an IPS? Holy cow, I've only seen that kind of static contrast on *VA panels. IPS topped out at 1.5k for the best panels I've seen.
    Reply
  • Orvtrebor - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    At this price it does fall a little short, but overall it would work perfectly for most people.

    The hardware is more than good enough for the type of people who want small and silent low power rigs.

    Gamers will never touch a rig like this, and casual gamers (non 3D type games) will be fine with this hardware.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    With an SSD, sure, but nobody is happy paying $1500 for a machine and getting a 5400 rpm disk. Reply
  • Orvtrebor - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    I completely agree on the storage front, like I said it falls short, but at 1500 you shouldn't have to add anything to it day 1 like an ssd Reply
  • jaydee - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    An SSD, a real graphics card (with displayport for a 1440p 2nd screen). Could do without the touchscreen (is there really a demand for that?) Reply
  • tukkas - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    the lenovo page lists broadcom, not realtek, as the network/wfi interface -- am i missing something?

    Network Card
    Broadcom 11b/g/n Wi-Fi wireless

    http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/we...
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    The WiFi in the review unit comes up as Realtek. Reply
  • geniekid - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    If I'm a gamer, a 630M isn't going to be adequate. If I use this computer professionally, the mediocre screen isn't going to be adequate. If I'm a casual user, I probably do all my computing solely off my laptop.

    I don't understand who would want an all-in-one standalone that can't play games and doesn't have an amazing display.
    Reply
  • Sadheal - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    I think you're wrong on the IPS panel.
    3000:1 contrast ratio + serious ghosting = VA panel (mostly MVA)

    No IPS panel does 3000:1 contrast.
    MVA panel are horrible ghosters.

    By the way, 1,67 DeltaE is great (it's considered OK under 3).
    Reply
  • tim851 - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    The 27" iMac starts at just 250$ more. You get a better screen, better graphics card and better hard disk.

    I feel cheated by Apple enough as it is, but this is Lenovo offering a worse bang for the buck. The 250$ upmark will be almost negated if you sell this thing within 3 years, as Lenovos hold their value far worse.

    I don't like the course the IT industry is taking, with everything being either cheap and flimsy or high quality and Apple-priced. Apple has insane profit margins, there must be manufacturers willing to offer the same quality for less money.
    Reply

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