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Lenovo IdeaCentre A600 3011 review: Lenovo IdeaCentre A600 3011

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The Good High-resolution 21.5-inch LCD; semiuseful facial recognition software; replaceable memory, hard drive, and optical drive.

The Bad Faster large-screen all-in-one available from Averatec for the same price; clunky design can pinch fingers.

The Bottom Line The heart of Lenovo's IdeaCentre A600 is in the right place, offering a 21.5-inch LCD-based all-in-one for less than $800. But a faster competitor and a careless design turns us off from this particular A600 configuration. You might consider a different A600 build if you can live with the design, but we can't recommend the $749 version.

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6.0 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 7
  • Performance 5
  • Support 7

Our $749 Lenovo IdeaCentre A600 review unit comes with a 21.5-inch LCD, but Lenovo also sells a variety of other A600 configurations, including a lower-end model with the same display for $679. You might look into the $679 version for pure screen-size-for-your-buck, but our $749 review unit compares too closely with a faster, year-old all-in-one from Averatec. Next to its competitor, which is still available at mainstream retailers, it's hard for us to recommend the IdeaCentre A600 at this price.

We actually started this review with a better impression of the IdeaCentre A600, since no other first tier PC vendor offers even a 20-inch LCD for less than $1,000, let alone a 21.5-inch model. Then we remembered our review of the year-old Averatec All-in-One, also with a 21.5-inch screen. We didn't love that system when it debuted at $1,300. However, in the year since its release, Averatec has dropped the price to $749 at Best Buy, and bumped the RAM up to 3GB.

  Lenovo IdeaCentre A600 Averatec All-in-One
Price $749 $749
Display size 21.5 inches 21.5 inches
CPU 2.0GHz Intel Pentium Dual-core T4200 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E4600
Memory 3GB 1,066MHz DDR3 SDRAM 3GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM
Graphics 32MB (shared) Intel X4500 integrated graphics chip 256MB (shared) Nvidia GeForce 8400M GS integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 500GB, 7,200rpm 320GB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
TV tuner No Yes
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g wireless
Operating system Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit) Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (32-bit)

Scan the features listed for each system and you'll see a few differences. The Lenovo system has a larger hard drive, ostensibly faster memory, and 802.11n wireless connectivity. The Averatec system has a faster processor and a TV tuner. How you favor those variations will depend on your individual needs. With little else swaying us in one direction or another, we favor the Averatec's faster CPU.

We're also surprised to find that both systems offer only the 32-bit version of Windows Vista and 3GB of RAM. Most PCs these days offer 64-bit Vista, which can take advantage of more system memory. We also never found that 3GB of RAM made a noticeable difference on 32-bit Vista compared with 2GB. You may have your opinion as to whether the Averatec's TV tuner is a better feature than the Lenovo's 500GB hard drive, but we'd suggest both vendors would have been smarter to opt for 2GB of RAM, and invested the memory cost difference in more worthwhile system features.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaCentre A600

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaCentre A600

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaCentre A600

Cinebench test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
HP Pavilion Slimline S3710t
Dell Studio One 19
Sony Vaio JS250J
Averatec All-in-One
Lenovo IdeaCentre A600

If you're as ambivalent about the features differences between the two systems as we are, the Averatec's performance edge over the IdeaCentre A600 should give you firmer ground for picking a favorite. In every benchmark, the Lenovo all-in-one is just a little bit slower than its year-old competitor. We have no illusions about the performance of either system. You can find significantly faster performance from either a decent desktop in the same price range, like HP's Pavilion SlimLine S7310t, or a slightly more expensive all-in-one like the Dell Studio One 19 (albeit with a smaller display). That said, among $749 all-in-ones with 21.5-inch screens, the Lenovo IdeaCentre A600 isn't as fast as the Averatec All-in-One and its faster processor.

We don't want to pile on the Lenovo system, but its design is also a point of contention. You can rightly criticize Averatec for essentially aping the looks of Apple's iMac, but we'd take unoriginality over the IdeaCentre A600 potentially squashing your finger. Thanks to Lenovo cramming most of the internal hardware into the bottom portion of IdeaCentre A600's case, when you tilt the screen its bottom edge moves across the support base of the unit in such a way that it could easily pinch an unwitting finger. The risk was apparent enough that Lenovo put a large red warning sticker next to the pinch zone. We're glad that Lenovo gave us some warning about the danger, but we can't recall any other desktop with a similar design hazard.

The warning label on the base of the A600 indicates the danger to your fingers.

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