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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.

Now playing: Watch this: Lenovo doubles up on new Horizon tabletop PCs

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.

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.

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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