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Lenovo brings motion control to new all-in-one

A new Lenovo all-in-one PC includes a motion-sensing remote

I ended 2008 talking about all-in-ones, so might as well begin 2009 on the same topic. Lenovo hasn't been much of a player in U.S. consumer desktop market lately, but the IdeaCentre A600 all-in-one, announced this morning, very plainly has the home user in mind.

According to the specs in the press release, Lenovo has followed the large LCD trend common to other all-in-one vendors. The IdeaCentre has a 21.5-inch display, along with a built-in subwoofer, and an optional Blu-ray drive and digital cable tuner, features that position the IdeaCentre A600 alongside other large screen all-in-ones as a secondary home entertainment device. If its core hardware is common, the optional multipurpose motion-sensing remote control helps Lenovo's new desktop stand out.

Lenovo's new IdeaCenter A600 with motion sensing remote control. Lenovo

Lenovo says the new remote works as a Media Center control, a VoIP phone, an "air mouse," (Lenovo's quotes), and a game controller. From the press release: "It is the first to bring PC users the ability to play games using the remote control's 'motion drive' feature, which controls onscreen objects according to the movement of the remote." The press release mentions no PC game titles currently available or in development that support such a control scheme, however.

Regardless of its potential gaming utility, pairing a motion sensitive remote with a large screen all-in-one makes sense. If all-in-ones are supposed to serve as PCs as well as a home entertainment centers, the latter usage model is much more seamless with the mouse and keyboard removed from the equation. HP's TouchSmart touchscreen all-in-ones have been the only product line so far to really attempt a solution for this problem, but right now TouchSmarts include only a handful of supported programs. Even if touch computing becomes ubiquitous, an interface that requires you to walk up and physically touch the display still has potential logistic issues. A device that can control the Windows environment as an air mouse, and also drive digital media like a traditional living room remote sounds like a feasible compromise.

Like other, but not all, all-in-ones, the IdeaCentre A600 is built with laptop PC components, including an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, up to 4GB of RAM and up to 1TB of hard drive space. Lenovo says it will start at $999 in its most basic configuration when it goes on sale in April, a remarkable price for an all-in-one with such a large LCD, regardless of its input technology.