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Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 review:

Lenovo IdeaCentre A720

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The Good The big-screen Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 all-in-one boasts 10-point touch input and one of the most adjustable displays around.

The Bad With too few touch applications and weak core PC components, this system feels overpriced.

The Bottom Line The IdeaCentre A720 has some enticing touch capabilities and design elements, but not enough meat in its apps or its core features to justify its cost.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

6.5 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 5.0
  • Support 7.0

Lenovo's $1,449 IdeaCentre A720 has all the trappings of a next-generation all-in-one desktop. It has a glossy, 27-inch display with 10-point touch recognition. A well-designed hinge lets you turn the screen into a tabletop PC. It even has some touch software you might actually want to use, at least for a while. You'll find that the shine on this system doesn't last very long, though, due to its less-than-stellar touch input and a limited selection of touch-specific applications. This system might be your best bet at the moment if you want a touch-screen PC to upgrade to Windows 8 once it ships. You'd be smarter to wait to see what the full field looks like closer to Windows 8's October launch.

At least for its hardware, the IdeaCentre A720 sounds like it should be one of the most fully realized touch-screen PCs around. It's one of the first 27-inch all-in-ones with 10-point touch input, and its large, adjustable screen -- so adjustable it's one of the only all-in-ones with a screen that can lie down flat -- seems to offer plenty of opportunity for different kinds of single and multiuser applications.

Of the 20 or so touch-specific applications Lenovo has included with the IdeaCentre A720, only one, an air-hockey-like game called Wong, takes real advantage of both the multipoint user input and the horizontal display position. A few other included games, actual Air Hockey among them, also work well on the flat screen, but in general the included touch apps consist of familiar mobile games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja, along with some more generic games and some bland utilities. The touch apps work well enough, although the screen itself has a surprising amount of resistance. Don't expect smartphone- or tablet-level accuracy. At least adjusting the orientation of the display is a smooth and easy process thanks to its well-made hinge system.

Lenovo's Idea Touch interface
Lenovo's Idea Touch interface Rich Brown/CNET

It's not unreasonable that this system ships with only a small collection of touch-oriented apps. Lenovo is not primarily a software company, after all. The problem is that there's no great way to expand the existing app library. Microsoft is focused on developing that touch-application ecosystem to go along with Windows 8, and it would be a mistake to underestimate Microsoft's ability to see that idea through, but for now the IdeaCentre A720's app selection feels too limited. You must also ask whether another vendor won't have released a better touch-screen all-in-one than this one by the time Microsoft brings its Windows 8 App store to life.

For all of those reasons, Lenovo seems to be jumping the gun with the timing of the IdeaCentre A720's release, at least in terms of its appeal as a touch-screen system.

Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 Dell XPS One 27 Asus ET2700I
Price $1,449 $1,599 $1,399
Display size/resolution 27-inch, 1,920x1,080 27-inch, 2,560x1,440 27-inch, 1,920x1,080
CPU 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-3450S 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-2600S
Memory 6GB 1,333MHZ DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,333MHZ DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 1GB Nvidia Geforce GT 630M 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 540M
Hard drives 500GB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive Blu-ray player/dual-layer DVD burner combo dual-layer DVD burner Blu-ray player/dual-layer DVD burner combo
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit)

In other respects, the IdeaCentre A720 hits most of the familiar high points you should expect in a high-end all-in-one, but its touch screen seems to have led to some harsh trade-offs in its basic computing components. The Asus ET2700INKS is a useful comparison here since it lacks a touch screen, but is otherwise similar to the Lenovo system. Unlike the higher-resolution $1,600 Dell XPS One, the Asus and the Lenovo all-in-ones each have a 1,920x1,080-pixel-resolution display and a Blu-ray drive. But for $50 less than the Lenovo, you also get a Core i7 CPU from Asus, 8GB of system memory, and a 1TB hard drive.

The Lenovo's touch screen and elaborate adjustable chassis perhaps make up the price difference with the Asus system in terms of total value, but those features also argue that Lenovo has emphasized touch in the IdeaCentre A720 at the expense of its basic computing features. As I argued earlier, at least right now there's not enough meat to the Lenovo touch experience to justify that trade-off.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  

Our performance results show that Lenovo is indeed asking you to sacrifice on speed if you buy this computer. Coming in at or near the bottom across on benchmark tests, the IdeaCentre A720 will be noticeably slower than similar all-in-ones regardless of the task. I would forgive the IdeaCentre A720's subpar performance results if it had a lower price or a more compelling set of touch applications; unfortunately, it has neither.

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.

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