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Lenovo IdeaCentre B320 review: Lenovo IdeaCentre B320

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Consider Lenovo's 21.5-inch IdeaCentre B320 all-in-one the smaller, more affordable counterpart to the well-reviewed B520 from last fall. The B320 does not have a 3D-capable display like the 23-inch B520, but the core features--a touch screen, a discrete graphics card, and a fast CPU for its price range--help the $949 IdeaCentre B320 retain some of the higher-end model's character.

Lenovo IdeaCentre B320
6.6

Lenovo IdeaCentre B320

The Good

The <b>Lenovo IdeaCentre B320</b>'s massive 2TB hard drive should lure in media hoarders or anyone who needs a fast-enough PC with a lot of storage capacity.

The Bad

A competing system from HP has a larger screen, better performance, and a Blu-ray drive for only $50 more.

The Bottom Line

Lenovo's IdeaCentre B320 is a game enough touch all-in-one, but a competitive midrange all-in-one market leaves this PC only its large hard drive as a primary selling point.

The problem is HP's nontouch $999 Omni 220. Yes, that system costs $50 more, but it offers a larger screen, a Blu-ray drive, and better performance. The IdeaCentre B320's massive 2TB hard drive might offset those differences for data hoarders. For everyone else, the IdeaCentre B320 doesn't offer enough to overcome the HP's advantages.

The design of the IdeaCentre B320 hews closely to that of the B520. On both systems, a piano-black bezel frames the display, which sits on top of a cleft, angular speaker bar. Unlike the B520's edge-to-edge glass, the B320's display is recessed into the bezel. Aesthetically the look isn't that different, but functionally the recessed display makes it a bit harder to fit your finger in the B320's corners for touch input.

Touch input is one feature that distinguishes the B320 from HP's Omni 220. I still don't find touch a crucial desktop feature, but you might if you intend to use one of these PCs as a home entertainment kiosk. The Lenovo uses surface acoustic wave touch (SAW) technology, the same as that in Samsung's Series 7 all-in-one. It requires you to press down a bit harder than with resistive or capacitive touch screens, but the accuracy is good once the screen registers your input.

Lenovo's touch software suite is a piecemeal assortment of programs. You get VeriTouch, which uses pattern drawing for system authentication, the App Space media player, and QuickNotes note-taking program, among others. They're all fine, but they exist mostly as accessory applications. You might use them on occasion, but for better or for worse, Lenovo has no full-fledged touch operating environment like HP's TouchSmart software.

The benefits of the TouchSmart software aren't a factor against the B320, given that that Omni 220 has no touch screen. You could try to configure a TouchSmart 420 to match the B320, but squaring up the features between the two systems pushes the 420's price above $1,000.

Lenovo IdeaCentre B320 77601TU HP Omni 220 Acer Aspire Z5571
Price $949 $999 $899
Display size/resolution 21.5-inch, 1,920x1,080 23-inch, 1,920x1,080 23-inch, 1,920x1,080
CPU 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 2500S 2.8GHz Intel Core i7 2600S 3.3GHz Intel Core i3 2120
Memory 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6450A 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6450A Embedded 64MB Intel HD Graphics 1000
Hard drives 2TB, 7,200 rpm 1TB, 7,200 rpm 1TB, 5,400 rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner Blu-ray drive/ dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
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 (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Stay within the sub-$1,000 price point, and you'll see that the IdeaCentre B320 offers a competitive system for $899, but the head-to-head matchup against the Omni 220 isn't so cut and dry.

The Lenovo's advantages are its lower price, more RAM, and a larger hard drive. The HP costs more, but it has a faster CPU, a larger display, and a Blu-ray drive. For an extra $50, you can also add HDMI input to the HP, which significantly improves its utility as a home entertainment hub.

The Lenovo is actually a pretty good deal compared with the Acer Z5571 and other $899 all-in-ones, but with the likes of HP's Omni 220 out there, you can spend just a little bit more for a more capable alternative. The Lenovo's primary draw may be its capacious 2TB of hard drive storage space.

If your primary interest is an all-in-one PC that's fast enough and offers a lot of local media storage, Lenovo has a pretty good deal here. As long as the Omni 220 stays within reasonable price range of the Lenovo, HP's unit with its larger display and Blu-ray drive is a better deal if you want an all-in-one to act as a home media hub.

Cinebench 11.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  

The performance gap between the HP and the Lenovo is persistent across our benchmark tests. In clock speed, as well as in available processing threads, the HP's 2.8GHz, four-core/eight-thread Core i7 chip is faster than the Lenovo's 2.5GHz four-core/four-thread Core i5 2500S. The disparity isn't huge, and the Lenovo's extra RAM helps it stay competitive, but if you demand top speed, your best bet is the HP.

One criticism I have for both PCs is the absence of an HDMI input. Lenovo does offer a TV tuner, but that's a poor substitute for an HDMI-in, which can turn your all-in-one into a second display for use with any modern video source component. The Lenovo is even primed for this feature; you can see the spot for the unused port on the back of the system, and it offers a button to swap the video input on the right side of the chassis. HP at least offers the possibility of adding an HDMI input via a $50 upgrade, but that should be a standard feature for every all-in-one out there, since it's cheap and offers a dramatic increase in system utility.

The inputs you do get with the Lenovo also feel spare. You get six USB 2.0 jacks, an Ethernet input, an old PS/2 keyboard port, an SD Card slot, and a pair of analog audio jacks. USB 3.0, standalone video output, and digital audio are all absent, making this system a disappointment in terms of its connectivity.

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 we wish the site gave you more direct access to the product-specific information.

Conclusion
Comparing midrange all-in-ones depends heavily on pricing, and finding a stable figure for a given product these days can be near impossible with the preponderance of short-term promotions and retailer-specific discounts. As long as the spread remains consistent between the HP Omni 220 and the Lenovo IdeaCenter B320, the HP system is faster, has a larger display, and has better overall features. The only exception comes with the Lenovo's 2TB hard drive. If storage volume is your top priority, the IdeaCentre B320 is worth a look.

Find out more about how we test desktop systems.

System configurations:
Acer Aspire Z5771 (Late Winter 2011)
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 3.3GHz Intel Core i3-2120; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB Intel HD Graphics 1000 embedded graphics chip; 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive

Apple iMac 21.5-inch (Spring 2011)
Apple OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.7; 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 2400; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 512MB AMD Radeon HD 6750 graphics card; 500GB 7,200rpm hard drive

Dell Inspiron One 2320 (Fall 2011)
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 2500S; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB Nvidia GeForce 525M; 2TB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive

HP Omni 220 1080QD
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-2600s; 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6450A graphics card; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Lenovo IdeaCenter 77601TU (Late winter 2011)
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i5 2500S; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1GB AMD Radeon HD 6450A discrete graphics card; 2TB 7,200rpm Hitachi hard drive

Samsung Series 7 (Summer 2011)
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit (SP1); 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-2390T; 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB Intel HD Graphics 1000 embedded graphics; 1TB 7,200rpm hard drive

Toshiba DX735-D3201 (Fall 2011)
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 2430M; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB Embedded Intel HD Graphics 3000; 1TB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive

Lenovo IdeaCentre B320
6.6

Lenovo IdeaCentre B320

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 7Support 7