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Lenovo expands the Horizon tabletop PC line with new sizes and shapes (hands-on)

The premium Horizon 2s and mainstream Horizon 2e are half desktop, half giant tablet.

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One PC trend that started strong last year but then seemed to lose steam is the tabletop PC. These systems straddle the line between all-in-one desktop and giant tablet, essentially taking a slim all-in-one desktop, adding a battery and kickstand, and making it semiportable. Fortunately, a couple of new models from Lenovo may be giving the tabletop a second shot.

One of our favorites from the first generation of these systems was the Lenovo Horizon , a 27-inch monster of a computer. It was fun to use, but probably too big to be a practical PC that you'd move from room to room at home.

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The slim Horizon 2s. Sarah Tew/CNET

The next generation of these systems from Lenovo slims down and aims for a better balance between screen size and portability. The Horizon has been split into models; one with a slim, premium feel, and the other with a bigger body and lower price.

The Horizon 2s is a thin-and-light (relatively speaking) tabletop PC with a 19.5-inch 1080p IPS display. The body is 0.59-inch thick, and weighs 5.6 pounds. Rather than a bulky built-in kickstand, the system has a small kickstand that I wouldn't use full time, but also accommodates a sold-separately charging stand. The entire setup looks and feels a lot like the Dell XPS 18 tabletop PC. That lightweight model was one of my favorites in this category, so that's a good thing.

Processors go up to current-gen Intel Core i7, with up to 500GB of hybrid hard-drive space, and Lenovo says the built-in battery can run up to 2.5 hours, which isn't a lot, but these systems are designed to move from room to room occasionally, not run all day away from a power source.

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The heftier Horizon 2e. Sarah Tew/CNET

The Horizon 2e is a bigger, thicker, tabletop PC, with a 21.5-inch 1080p screen. Rather than a slim oversize tablet with a separate stand, the Horizon 2e has a hefty built-in kickstand. It's less portable, but the bigger body allows for a bigger battery, which should run up to 3.5 hours.

Both new Horizon systems include Lenovo's Aura software package, which is a user interface overlay that pops up automatically when the systems are positioned flat on a surface, in upward-facing tabletop mode. Aura uses multitouch controls to give you access to photos, video, and apps, but can be turned off if you prefer the regular Windows 8 interface.

The Horizon 2s will be available later in September, starting at $949, with the charging stand going for $89. The Horizon 2e is coming in October, starting at $749.

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