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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  • Kibbles - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    From the way the hinges appear, it looks like the base can sit flush with the monitor? If so, is there some kind of mount on the bottom of the base so you can wall mount it? Reply
  • SunLord - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    It seems the hinges are so you can move the display down at a steep angle and use the 10point multi touch screen or that's how it looks like it's meant to be on the lenovo website Reply
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    ... Yet Lenovo leave those problems in.
    I mean really, I didn't even know there were 27" 1080p IPS panels, but if there are, they must be destined for low end TVs only. I'd much rather see a 24" 1920x1200 panel.
    As you said, why not a Geforce 650M?
    Dodgy Realtek networking aside, what the hell are they doing putting a 5400 RPM HDD in ANYTHING these days?
    Especially in a high cost machine.
    Reply
  • Snotling - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Yeah, penny pinching @ho!es. 7200RPM drives cost almost nothing more, that's just screwing with the uneducated buyer.

    The display's low resolution for its size also gets a +1

    I couldn't care less about the G630M, those machines are not in any way designed for gamers anyway.
    Reply
  • Meaker10 - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Its a 2.5 inch drive and 1tb 7200rpm drives dont exist in standard height. The next best is 750gb 7200rpm which is quite a drop. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Considering that this is not a standard case, I don't see why 15mm vs 9.5mm is an issue. Cost might be, but probably not height. Also, I don't see 750GB as "quite a drop", the people I know who would use an AIO don't use a lot of data on their PCs, they have no big movie collections, and their photos/music/data is easily stored in 320GB drives. :) Reply
  • Meaker10 - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Its a numbers game and 15mm drives are noisy, power hungry and less reliable, also at that point you may as well go slim 3.5 inch. Reply
  • royalcrown - Saturday, September 29, 2012 - link

    I have 1.5 tb on an external drive with my Imac. Reply
  • Calista - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    I agree with Dustin, why would any sane designer add the HDMI-ports to the side while only adding a single USB-port easily accessible. What's most likely to be added to the HDMI-input? I would say a gaming console - something we don't move around very often. What's most likely being connected to the HDMI-out? A second screen of course. Something we definitely don't move around very often.. USB-sticks, external hard-drives, cell phones, cameras etc - those are the things that we may add or remove many times a day. And often connecting many at the same time.

    Same with the hard drive - the added cost of adding a small SSD could be as little as $75 but could mean a world of difference performance-wise. I'm all for keeping a conventional HDD as well for added storage. If needed - increase the size of the base a few cm.

    I don't have any issues with the resolution, a lot of people with less than perfect eye-sight find 1920*1080 on a 27" screen just fine.

    Something else I wish they would have added is mic in/out on the front *as well* as to the back. Perfect for hooking up a headset while still being able to have proper speakers connected to the back.
    Reply
  • Calista - Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - link

    Ok, a laptop could be connected to the HDMI-in as well. And if so a side placement make sense. But HDMI-out on the side...? Reply

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