August 13, 2012
- Beautiful design & fold down display
- 10-point touchscreen
- Multimedia features (Blu-ray & HDMI-in/out)
- Screen resolution could be higher
- Touch-apps are limited in number
- Mediocre benchmark performance
The Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 is a stunning all-in-one desktop PC that sports a beautiful, Apple-like design and a multitouch 27-inch 1080p display. The design of the PC is definitely its strongest selling point, but the touchscreen and multimedia features add to it. It does lack in terms of performance and touch-based applications.
When Lenovo initially announced the IdeaCentre A720 all-in-one desktop PC, we really wanted to get our hands on it because of its beautiful design and promising performance. We can definitely say that it surpassed expectations in the design department. The closest PC that we can compare this one to is the Dell XPS One 2700. We liked the design of Dell's 27-inch all-in-one but we did not like the lack of a touchscreen, which Lenovo added to this model.
The Lenovo A720 is crafted from aluminum and the base is one solid piece, similar to the Apple MacBook Pro design. The whole computer is about 1-inch thick all-around, including both the base and the display. The hinge is the desktop's signature design element: it's also made of aluminum and allows for the display to tilt and be pulled down to lay completely flat atop the base. Doing this transforms the desktop PC into a giant tabletop tablet.
In all, we can definitely say the design of the A720 is our favorite of any all-in-one desktop that we've seen. In fact, we like it better than the Apple iMac design simply because it can fold flat and be used as a tabletop tablet. With Windows 8 on the horizon, which is centered around a touch-based interface, you can bet the two will mesh very well together. As of right now, however, it ships with Windows 7 but it is definitely upgradeable to Windows 8 when it is released in October.
Display & Touchscreen
The 27-inch 1920 x 1080-pixel display looked beautiful because the front is one pane of glass so there is no difference between the screen and the slim, black bezel. The resolution is a little lower than the Dell XPS One 2700 (2560 x 1440-pixels), so you do lose some screen space and quality. As we mentioned earlier, the screen can be tilted in any position from 90 to -5 degrees, so you'll definitely need a good amount of desk space to accommodate it. Along the bottom right edge of the display are touch-sensitive controls for things like volume, video input and display settings. The display looked very good and provided a very pleasing experience, especially when watching Blu-ray DVDs or streaming HD videos.
The display has a 10-point multi-touch display that worked quite well. Lenovo includes some touch-based games, like Angry Birds and Air Hockey, and we were impressed with the touch performance when we played these games. Navigating the Windows 7 interface using only touch input was also comfortable.
Other than these games and the Lenovo IdeaTouch application that gives users access to music, photos and videos, there's not much else designed for touch-based use. We expect this to drastically change with Windows 8 and the accompanying app store which will bring more touch-friendly apps to the PC. One last note: fingerprints were very easily shown on the PC, which is a typical downside with a glossy touchscreen.
Connectivity & Peripherals
Lenovo includes two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI-in & out, a TV tuner, Ethernet, headphone and microphone jacks and a 6-in-1 memory card reader. The included wireless mouse and keyboard's receiver takes up one of the USB ports, so there's really only three available, therefore one additional port would have been nice. The HDMI-in port means you can use the A720's display for a video game console or cable TV box. There is also a slot-loading Blu-ray/DVD writer combo drive, which really adds to the multimedia features in addition to the TV tuner. There is also 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
The included set of wireless peripherals work quite nice and are comfortable to use. The keyboard is very slim and has a matching silver design. The island-style layout works well, although some of the keys are either atypically sized or placed which can require some getting used to. The mouse uses laser-tracking, so it's very accurate and the design feels comfortable too in the hand.
Specifications & Performance
Our review model of the Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 included a third-gen Intel Core i5-3210M (2.5GHz) CPU, 6GB of RAM, a 500GB 7200RPM hard drive and discrete 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 630M graphics. The Dell XPS One 2700 has a third-gen Intel Core i7 CPU and a 2TB drive in addition to a 32GB SSD cache drive. The specifications of the A720 is very good on paper, however, it doesn't quite live up to the mark we expected. In benchmarking, the A720 earned a score of 2,195 in PCMark 7 and 2.82 (CPU score) in Cinebench 11.5.
In real-world use, multitasking, streaming HD video and using typical programs, like Google Chrome and Microsoft Office, all worked without a hitch. The only time we noticed a slow down was when we loaded the touch-based games that Lenovo includes with the PC. Once the game loaded, however, it worked flawlessly.
With the discrete Nvidia graphics, some 3D gaming is definitely possible. Don't expect, however, to run the games at maximum resolution or graphics settings.
We really feel that Lenovo has a hit with the IdeaCentre A720 with only a few minor glitches. The Blu-ray player, beautiful 27-inch touchscreen and stunning design really make us love this PC. The lack of additional USB ports, a higher screen resolution and mediocre benchmark performance isn't enough to keep us away. We believe that once Windows 8 is released this fall and more touch-centered apps are available, this PC will become even better.
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