Lenovo kept its Windows 8 desktop offerings simple during its announcement today, expanding on existing product lines, and introducing no significant new features to its IdeaCentre all-in-ones.
Consider this unit, pictured above, the smaller, more affordable version of the 27-inch IdeaCentre A720 Lenovo released earlier this year. This model comes in with a 23-inch, 1,920x1,080-pixel display, and the same high-end Intel Core i7 CPUs and other PC components as the big-screen version, but real focus is on the sleek design, the display adjustability, and the 10-point touch interface.
In a review at the beginning of the month, I found the A720 a capable-enough big-screen touch PC, but hard to recommend due to its high price. It also came out well ahead of Windows 8, limiting your ability to study the full field of Windows 8-timed competition. The $999 starting price makes the A520 an easier sell than the $1,300-plus A720. And by the time the A520 is out in October, you should have had plenty of time to compare it with other all-in-ones in its price range.
For whatever reason Lenovo only sent a profile shot of the IdeaCentre B545, so I'll admit to cribbing the image above from its B540 announcement from this year's CES. Lenovo informs me that from the front the two systems look the same.
Where Lenovo positions the IdeaCentre A Series as its lifestyle product, the 23-inch IdeaCentre B500-series has served as the company's de facto gaming all-in-one. Since at least 2011's IdeaCentre B520, this line has offered outstanding performance, features, and overall value. The new model, the B545, might inspire some questions from gamers with its AMD-based CPU options and only a lower midrange Radeon HD 7470A graphics card, but it should handle most current PC games well enough. You also still get the 3D display technology that's been a hallmark of the B500 series.
You can mull over your thoughts on this unit for a while, since it's not due in the U.S. until April 2013. The starting price will be $699, but expect to pay $1,000 and more for the higher-end CPU and graphics card options. I also wouldn't be surprised to see an update to the Intel-based B540 sometime around January and CES 2013.
IdeaCentre B345 and IdeaCentre B340
The B340 and the B345 represent the lower end of Lenovo's new lineup, offering the same 10-point touch input as the others, but on a 21.5-inch screen. As with the B500 series, the B340 model has the combination of an Intel Core CPU/Nvidia GPU, and the B345 gives you an all-AMD based alternative. The starting price for both models will be $599 when they make their U.S. debut in October.
Given the general sense of trepidation around Windows 8, I don't blame Lenovo for playing it safe with its new all-in-ones. Still, Samsung's forthcoming Series 5 and Series 7 all-in-ones will both feature gesture recognition, and Vizio gave its CA27-A1 and other all-in-ones a standalone touch pad instead of a mouse.
I didn't love Vizio's laggy touch pad, but I have a feeling that more consumers will prefer that general mode of input over a touch screen in Windows 8, especially for extended work sessions. With three vendors having revealed their Windows 8 all-in-one designs so far, though, the industry still hasn't shown a consensus.