Lenovo IdeaCentre A320 review
The Lenovo IdeaCentre A320 is a good looking all-in-one desktop with a sleek space saving design that is targeted at the style conscious user. The Lenovo's A320's aesthetic reminds one of Apple's minimalistic design approach, although a major difference is that the internal components of the A320 are located in the base rather than in the case behind the screen, as is the case with Apple's iMac and most other all-in-one desktops.
We have conducted our tests on this unit, which comes with a 3 year warranty period, and let's see whether it comes up to par on the performance meter as it does on the style quotient.
The IdeaCentre A320 has a glossy all white finish (other models reportedly appear in a black and grey double tone) with chrome trims that run around the screen and base's edge, the same style formula, with the chrome trims bordering the overall white finish, is applied to the accompanying wireless keyboard and mouse as well. The slim asymmetrical design (with the chrome-finish stand, that supports the monitor, placed towards the top right part of the base) should not lead you into thinking that this unit is anything but well balanced, the unit as a whole has a good build quality.
The base, which holds the screen, has all the hardware components stored within it. The stand holding the monitor provides for a limited swivel and tilt movement.
The Lenovo A320's slim design favours its placement in comparatively restrictive spaces. The speakers are located at the front bottom of the A320's base, a placement which seems appropriate given the speaker grill's distinct eye catching orange finish. Interestingly, the Lenovo All-in-one desktop comes with a power adapter, of the kind generally seen with laptops. All the connectors and ports are located at the left and back edges of the base. The A320 comes with an external optical drive as the base's compact nature prevents it from enclosing any further hardware. There is a webcam located at the top section of the screens bezel.
The IdeaCentre A320 features a bright 21.5 inch glossy full-HD display, bordered by a black bezel, with an edge to edge glass screen in front of it. As it is with all glossy screens, its reflective nature does become distracting at times. The screen has at its bottom left corner three white LED indicators for hard disk utilisation, and Bluetooth and wireless internet connectivity.
While the screen itself does not support touch functionality as such, the screen controls for managing various display properties like brightness and contrast were touch sensitive, a nice, albeit cosmetic, addition. While viewing the screen from both horizontal angles and the top vertical angle is okay, except at an angle of 170+ degrees where you start to notice a slight colour distortion with the bottom vertical view giving a darkish hue to the picture. The screen does a very good job of displaying colours and this comes across when viewing images, videos and text.
The keyboard has a good build quality and features a laptop keyboard layout, with 86 keys. The keys provided a good tactile response and while not a chiclet keyboard, the keys were sufficiently well spaced and so you shouldn't face any problems typing on it. The following observation is just my personal opinion and not a downside: the choice of placing the Fn key at the extreme left bottom of the keyboard does tend to be an irritant for me. You are generally used to having the Ctrl key at that position, and consequently you unsuccessfully press the Fn key for actions such as copy and paste.
I guess at the end of the day it just takes getting used to it. The keyboards has three quick access buttons located at its top right corner for accessing Lenovo Vantage Technology, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.
It has to be pointed out that I noticed a slight response delay in the keyboard, and to a much lesser extent in the mouse, when connecting to the system through Bluetooth. You especially notice this when the system boots up or when accessing the system after its wakes from sleep mode, it takes some time for the keys you pressed on the keyboard to be registered by the system.
The IdeaCentre A320 features a Intel second generation 2.10 GHz Intel Core i3-2310M Sandy Bridge processor (which doesn’t support Intel’s Turbo Boost technology), 3GB DDR3 RAM, Intel HD graphics and a 750GB hard drive. As mentioned earlier this unit comes with an external optical drive.
Given the A320's compact nature the number of ports available are limited. However, having said that, the connectors that are provided are very handy. At the back of the base, it has 2 USB 2.0 ports, HDMI-in and HDMI-out ports, Gigabit Ethernet port, power connector and the TV tuner connector, not to mention the availability of wireless internet 802.11n connectivity. At the left side of the base you will find 2 USB 3.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks and a multi-card reader.
The HDMI-in and HDMI-out ports are a very handy feature. The HDMI-in port allows you to connect other devices such as game consoles and digital media drives to this monitor. This basically means that even after you stop using the PC, you can still utilise the monitor as a standalone TV/monitor. The HDMI-out port on the other hand allows you to connect the Lenovo A320 to an extra monitor or even a TV.
While we did mention that there are 4 USB ports, both the external DVD drive and the remote control receiver for the TV tuner take up 3 USB ports, leaving just one USB port free. This is not a downside per se, but just a point to keep in mind if you plant to connect multiple USB devices.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre A320 comes pre-installed with Windows 7 Home Premium, and luckily not too much of bloatware. The IdeaCentre desktop comes with the following software: McAfee Antivirus Plus trial versio, SRS Premium sound and Cyberlink YouCam. Among Lenovo's own software set, is the Lenovo Dynamic brightness System which is supposed to auto detect the ambient brightness and accordingly adjust the screen's display brightness, in my view this particular feature didn’t seem to make much of a difference.
Another Lenovo contraption was the Lenovo Vantage Technology Start Centre which serves as an easy access tab to various apps such as the handy OneKey recovery. Then there is there is the Lenovo Eye Distance software which is supposed to check, through the web cam, and inform the user whether he/she is sitting too close to the screen. It might be an issue with the particular review unit we received, but I never got any such notification even when I had my face right next to the webcam.
Also included in the preinstalled software list is the Microsoft Office Starter 2010 edition, InterVideo WinDVD, Roxio Creator Business edition and Cyberlink Power2Go.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre A320 notched a score of 97 on the Worldbench 6 benchmark, which for sake of comparison purposes is also the score achieved by the Lenovo IdeaPad Z570. This is understandable given that the the A320 has laptop hardware to allow for the slim form factor.
The score shows that the IdeaCentre should have no problem getting through daily tasks such as browsing the internet, listening to music, watching movies and other productivity apps and handle most processor and memory intensive tasks. During synthetic testing, the desktop's hard disk recorded an average read speed of around 75 MB/s and recorded a PC Mark Vantage score of 5216.
As far as gaming goes, the scores for Far Cry 2 (run at maxed out settings and at 1024x768 resolution) speak for itself: 9.30 FPS. If you are going to game, playing relatively older generation games would be advisable. Playing the more contemporary games, if that is possible, should be done at the lower resolutions and settings.
The A320 does a good job of playing both 720p and 1080p HD videos. The A320 comes with inbuilt speakers which provide for an audio level that is apt for a small or medium sized room. The audio is clear enough, although as with most built in speakers, the bass is rather lacking.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre A320 is not meant to be upgradeable. If you want the extra memory, you might as well as get the additional RAM from Lenovo when buying the A320.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre A320 is a stylish All-in-one desktop that will catch nearly everyone's fancy. Having handy features such as an HDMI-in connector, that allows you to use the screen as a standalone unit without having to switch on the PC component, adds to the A320's plus factor ,not to mention adding to the longevity of its use. Given it's hardware configuration, the A320 does a good enough showing on the performance meter. This all-in-one desktop is one we would recommend to lifestyle centric users who wouldn't mind spending money for buying a stylish desktop with a higher priority given to the PC's aesthetic appeal than to the performance aspect.