Remember those clunky “car phones” in the late ’80s and early ’90s? It seems we’ve reached that stage in computer/tablet hybrids. Essentially a tweaked, larger version of the Sony Vaio Tap 20, the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC ($1,699+) might not be the most graceful computer at the ball, but it does pique our interest as the next step in all-in-ones. Lenovo’s calling it a “tabletop” computer.
The 27-inch (1920 x 1080 resolution screen), 1.1-inch thick, 18-pound creation is a behemoth next to an iPad but a scrawny, slimmed down youngster next to other all-in-one desktops. At that weight, it’s certainly more of a lug than a carry — but therein lies the company’s well-molded plan for a coffee table device. With a U-shaped stand on its back, the Horizon can be propped up vertically and use a normal keyboard/mouse setup just fine, but its true purpose seems to lie in… well, lying there, as a flat tabletop device that the whole family can tap away at.
Standing alone, the Horizon has a two hour battery life, which isn’t too shabby considering it’s a full-on Windows 8 PC. A selection of Core i3, i5 or i7 processors, a max of 1TB storage and other standard PC specs are all present here. But that’s not truly why you’d buy this: Lenovo’s focus is on the unforgotten pleasure of shared group fun. Games and board games abound for the IdeaCentre. And why not? They’re way cooler done digitally. A ten-point touchscreen means “multi-user” tech ensures everybody’s grubby fingers are accounted for (even your damn nephew’s as he steals from the Monopoly bank). Cool additions like air hockey paddles, stickable mini joysticks and system-recognizable dice beg to be toyed with — harkening the day of the pizza parlor table-top coin-ops. Lenovo’s also strayed from the normal Windows 8 main interface a bit, switching to “Aura” mode when the device is used flat. This special interface helps with “right side up” issues through a wheel application selector.
And if you don’t have a regular game night with the kids every week (or no friends)? Well then, the IdeaCentre Horizon’s “game board” gimmick may soon wear out, right along with your back. We’ll probably wait for something a bit more spare in size and flexible in use before we spring, especially at this price point. That said, we’ll also be the first to freak out at the chance to play with one once someone else buys it.