Lenovo does deserve credit for offering a comprehensive set of features for using an all-in-one as a home entertainment device. On top of its Blu-ray and TV-tuning capabilities, the IdeaCentre A720 has an HDMI input, an HDMI output, and an extensive set of front-panel display and volume controls. I would like to see more granular display settings, rather than the simple "video" and "Web" presets, but the volume, brightness, and display signal buttons all make it much easier to use this system for multimedia consumption.
I was also happy with the Lenovo's audio and video output quality. Music and movie sound comes out loud enough through the pair of built-in, downward-facing speakers that it can fill a reasonably sized room. The budget-priced Nvidia GeForce GT 630M graphics chip isn't exactly a beast, but it handles Blu-ray movies with no issues, and it can also run mainstream 3D games like Skyrim at medium image quality and full screen resolution. Skyrim at its maximum image quality wasn't the most playable gaming experience, on the other hand. That smarts a bit given the Lenovo's price tag.
The only other major ding in regard to the IdeaCentre A720's multimedia abilities is its lack of more robust audio output options. The unit has a standard stereo output jack, and can also support 5.1 audio via its HDMI output, but with no digital or even 5.1 analog audio support, connecting this system to a receiver isn't really an option. At least you get respectable data connectivity from a pair of USB 3.0 ports, along with two standard USB 2.0 jacks.
Lenovo's service and support policies hold to the near-universal industry standard of one year of parts and labor accompanied by a 24-7 toll-free tech support number. You can add at-home service and extended warranty coverage if you purchase your system online from Lenovo directly. You will find basic drivers and documentation on Lenovo's support site, but I wish the site gave you more direct access to the product-specific information.
A number of readers have asked me to try the Windows 8 Release Preview build on this system to see how well Microsoft's new interface plays with the IdeaCentre A720's multitouch screen. I'm curious about that as well, but with the prerelease OS and the potential for conflicts with present-day drivers and other software, the results might not reflect the experience of buying this PC now and updating via the final Windows 8 upgrade path. For that reason, I will write about my Windows 8 experience in a separate post, and the results will have no bearing on the score of this review.
That does not mean that the Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 exists in some kind of bubble. Windows 8 is coming in just a few months, and I anticipate several other vendors having large, multitouch-capable all-in-ones at the ready. That coming competition makes it difficult to recommend that you purchase this PC today. I'm also wary of the IdeaCentre A720's value compared with that of other present-day all-in-ones.
Perhaps this system is a good fit if you're taken with its design, and if you have faith that Microsoft will succeed in its push toward touch-focused computing. For everyone else, I recommend that you wait before spending for a high-end Windows all-in-one like this one.
Performance testing conducted by Joseph Kaminski. Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
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