Lenovo is hoping to bring families back together with the all-in-one IdeaCentre Horizon 27 Table PC. This "tablet" -- yes, it has a battery -- boasts a colossal 27-inch 1080p touch screen, an Intel Core i5 processor and Nvidia graphics. Throw in a unique set of bundled accessories and a compelling multiuser interface with an expansive suite of family-friendly apps and you've got a device that can handle work, play and everything in between. Starting at $1,699, the Horizon 27 isn't cheap, but it evolves the computing experience in a compelling way.
From the front, the Horizon 27 Table PC looks like a tablet, albeit a massive one. The 27-inch glossy display is surrounded by an inch of shiny black bezel, which in turn is wrapped in a band of black matte plastic. The look is finished off by yet another black plastic band made of soft-touch rubber.
A 720p webcam is centered in the top bezel. Toward the bottom of the display sits a silver Lenovo insignia flanked by status indicators for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and battery on the left and capacitive buttons for source, screen rotate, display brightness and volume on the right. An orange IdeaCentre logo adds a welcome pop of color to the presentation.
The back of the Horizon 27 is made from matte gray plastic that tapers out from the flat center panel toward the edges. Each of the corners has small hard bumpers to steady the device when it's laying face up. A large metal folding hinge enables the Table PC to sit upright in Desktop Mode. A firm, steady push against the front of the all-in-one lowers it to a 30-degree angle. Pushing it farther lets you lay the Horizon flat on a table.
The right side of the Horizon houses a pair of USB 3.0 ports, HDMI-in, a 6-in-1 card reader and jacks for headphones, a mic and the AC adapter. A shiny silver power button sits along the lower left rear corner. Considering its size, we'd like at least one more USB port.
A word of advice when attempting to move the Horizon 27: Lift with your knees. The gargantuan 27.2 x 16.9 x 1.17-inch, 18.4-pound system is nothing to be trifled with. It dwarves the 19.9 x 12.0 x 1.8-inch, 11.2-pound Sony Tap 20 and the 18.25 x 11.17 x 0.41, 5.2-pound Dell XPS 18.
The Horizon 27's 10-point touch-screen 1080p display delivers sharp detail and contrast, but the colors could be brighter. As we watched the 1080p trailer for "R.I.P.D." on the 27-inch display, we could see the creases in Ryan Reynolds' pants along with billows of smoke and sparks from a raging fire. However, the flames looked somewhat washed-out, as did Reynolds' normally bright blue eyes. Viewing angles are nice and wide. Four people sitting around the Horizon could easily see the screen.
The all-in-one registered 350 lux on our light meter, which falls a little short of the 359 category average. However, the Horizon 27 Tablet PC is brighter than the Tap 20 (254 lux) and the XPS 18 (302 lux).
Windows 8 gestures were easy to perform, but we'd recommend a two-handed approach for pinch-zoom. During our testing, we found that one hand couldn't extend far enough to perform the action.
The Horizon 27's quartet of rear-mounted speakers, partnered with Dolby Home Theater v4 software, delivered audio that was loud, clear and full. Regina Belle's rendition of "Fly Me to the Moon" blanketed our test room in rich piano and smoky vocal gymnastics, sensual saxophone with crisp snares and cymbals. Dolby's Music setting provided the best sound experience for video and music. However, the treble sounded a bit harsh at maximum volume.
Keyboard and Mouse
The Horizon 27's Bluetooth keyboard is fairly lightweight at 1.1 pounds and is powered by two AAA batteries. The metallic keyboard seems rather small for such a large display. We appreciate the inclusion of the number pad, but not at the expense of an undersized Left Tab, Caps Lock, Backspace, Right Shift and Enter key. It also would have been nice if the keyboard sat at a slightly higher angle.
The smile-shaped keys hint at another stellar Lenovo typing experience, but the keys were more shallow than expected. We averaged 50 words per minute with a 1 percent error rate on the Ten Thumbs Typing Test. That's below our 55 wpm rate.
The Horizon is one of the first Windows 8 touch PCs we've seen whose display isn't monopolized by the on-screen keyboard. But this isn't necessarily a good thing, as the keyboard doesn't adjust for the Horizon 27's massive display. Instead, we saw a tiny virtual keyboard surrounded by large amounts of black space. Split keyboard mode was an even worse proposition, splintering the keyboard into almost untypeable fragments.
Lenovo also includes a wireless mouse with the Horizon. Covered in matte gray plastic, the 2.9-ounce mouse connects to the Table PC by way of USB dongle. We used the mouse comfortably for more than two hours, thanks to its gentle curvature. The dark gray rubber scroll wheel, accented by a shiny chrome panel, was accurate and provided a solid click when pressed. The right and left buttons provided solid, snappy feedback. When you're done, you can shut down the mouse by rotating the back upward into an S-shape.
Placing the Horizon into Table mode launches Aura, Lenovo's multiuser interface (Aura can also be launched using a tile in the Modern interface). Aura interaction begins with the large ring in the center of the display with icons for Photo, Lenovo App Shop, Games, Music, Education and Apps. A translucent bubble in the top left corner reveals a Settings menu with options for Standby, Exit, System Settings and User Help. Status icons for Wi-Fi and Battery sit in the opposite corner along with an X to return to Windows 8.
MORE: Top 25 Windows 8 Apps
Tapping an icon on the ring displays each piece of available content in a wraparound carousel in large colorful thumbnails. Circling the carousel clockwise reveals more choices while a counterclockwise motion hides content. Dragging content off of the carousel onto the display let us access our content. We could pin our favorite apps onto the display for quick access, and we liked the seamless action of flinging content from one edge of the display to another.
Pulling an image from the carousel allowed us to access all our images in a miniature slideshow. Song tracks morphed into old-school CD cases with controls to display song title, play/pause, skip forward/back, repeat and volume. Videos have a film reel border and controls for full screen, play/pause and volume.
Aura let us get the most out of the Horizon's 10-point touch screen. When the board became too crowded, we opened one hand on the display to send everything flying to the borders. Another open hand gesture closed all the files. Bringing all our fingers together returned everything to its original position. Closing out a file takes two swipes: one to place it near the border and another to close. Files turn a telltale red to signal its close.
Pressing and shaking a single piece of content clears the display of everything except that file type. For example, pressing and shaking an image would push everything that wasn't a photo toward the borders.
In addition to the keyboard and the mouse, the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27 ships with a slew of compelling gaming accessories to be used in conjunction with the Aura interface. Most of the accessories are made of a durable black matte plastic with silver accents.
Included in the bundle are a pair of suction-cup attachable joysticks, two air hockey paddles, and an electronic dice. We wished that Lenovo had included a stylus and a digital paintbrush for productivity and art-focused tasks.
The E-Dice is one of the most unique peripherals we've come across. Basically a large die, the 1-inch device has a built-in accelerometer that keeps track of what number you rolled. The information is then relayed to the Horizon 27 via embedded ZigBee chips in the die and a USB dongle. The dongle can register up to three dice simultaneously. The E-Dice also comes with a USB charging station.
The air hockey paddles are pretty straightforward, and are big enough for kids and adults to use comfortably. The bottom of the paddles are outfitted with metallic discs that enables the display to detect them.
The joysticks look like a smaller version of the paddles, but with a small suction cup attached to the bottom. When we launched a joystick-compatible game, we simply attached the sticks to their designated spots on the Horizon's display and used them to navigate our way through the game.
The Horizon 27 will also have an optional multimode table accessory that will be available in the summer. (Pricing information is not yet available.) The table can tilt from standing upright to laying flat, a built-in lever adjusts the height. Thanks to the wheels on the table's feet, it can be moved from room to room with little effort.
Aura is a multimedia center at its core and a big part of that is gaming. The interface comes with nine preinstalled games ("Lenovo Air Hockey," "Monopoly," "Lenovo Fishing Joy," "King of Opera," "Lenovo Roulette," "Draw Race 2," "Lenovo Texas Hold ‘Em," Ubisoft's "Raiding Company" and "Lenovo Tycoon") that are entertaining and put the bundled accessories to good use.
"Lenovo Air Hockey" is one of our favorite titles for the Horizon 27 Tablet PC. The game offers several modes of play and a palette swap to keep things interesting. The paddles took some getting used to. Volleying the puck back and forth with a colleague at a medium pace was fairly accurate. However, when we tried to pick up the pace, our virtual paddle would often disengage from the physical one, launching it across the board and leaving our goal exposed.
Board game fans will enjoy the digital version of "Monopoly," which incorporates the E-Dice. The digital die was very accurate and responsive, even when it rolled off the table. In-game animations of our game pieces were fun. We appreciated the tutorial that explained some of the more complicated parts of the game. However, it's the random bits of in-game trivia that sets the digital edition apart from the regular version. Who knew statistically that more players land on Indiana Avenue than any other property on the board?
In addition to "Monopoly," there's also "Lenovo Tycoon," which plays similar to "Monopoly," but on a global scale. After choosing an avatar, it was a race around the world to buy property on each of the seven continents.
Players with the gambling bug will want to check out Lenovo's versions of "Roulette" and "Texas Hold ‘Em." Although there wasn't any real money on the line, we still got a kick out of placing bets and waiting for the ball to come to a stop. As we faced off against other Laptopmag staffers in a high-stakes hand of poker, we enjoyed swiping over our cards to get a sneak peek. Lenovo has a free Android app in the works that will let players hold their cards in their hands.
"Raiding Company" and "Fishing Joy" put the joysticks to work. "Fishing Joy" tasks players with rotating a net cannon to capture various fish for varying amounts of points. When we played "Raiding Company," we went tomb raiding, blasting mummies with various weapons. The joysticks are fairly responsive, but we accidentally dislodged them from the display during some of the more frenetic bouts.
"Draw Race 2" is a racing game with a twist. Instead of relying on tilt physics or a gamepad, the game has players draw their car's path around the track. Depending on the car's attributes, including speed and cornering, winning is easier said than done. "King of the Opera" pits 1-4 players against each other in a battle royale to steal the spotlight. Players must capture the spotlight for as long as they can before being bumped out by a jealous opponent.
Playing games on the Horizon is an engaging experience. The games are varied enough to appeal to just about anyone. They're easy enough for beginners, but engaging enough for intermediate players.
Aura isn't all play. Lenovo has included a few educational apps for kids ages 2 to 6. Lenovo Color Corner is like an old-school activity book. Color Corner is broken into several apps that let kids color, draw and connect the dots on a variety of templates. There's also nine LankaWriter apps that help kids learn how to write their numbers. Ambitious parents can also take advantage of the "Baby Learns Chinese" series to help their children learn another language.
With all the kid-focused software, we were pleasantly surprised to discover StageLight, a music-creation program hidden under the Apps icon. Starting with genre, StageLight helps users create a music track, including laying down a drum line, bass and synth.
Lenovo also included its own branded app store and BlueStacks, for those who want to have the Android experience on a 27-inch display. There are approximately 35 Android apps preloaded onto the tablet, including Facebook and "Jetpack Joyride."
The Horizon's 720p webcam captures images and video using CyberLink YouCam software. It picked up the colors of our maroon shirt and the golden mangoes in our fruit salad accurately. However, images were fuzzy.
After our heat test, where we play 15 minutes of Hulu at full-screen, the back of the Horizon 27 Tablet PC measured a cool 79 degrees Fahrenheit. That's well below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27's 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5-3337U processor with 8GB of RAM has more than enough power to handle everyday tasks and the Aura interface.
The Horizon posted a score of 5,047 on Geekbench, less than half the 10,337 desktop replacement average, but closer to other portable all-in-one tablets. The Sony VAIO Tap 20's 1.7-GHz Intel Core i5-3317U CPU notched 5,683 while the Dell XPS 18 and its 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5-3337U CPU scored 6,291.
The Horizon 27's 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive booted Windows 8 in 27 seconds, topping the 42-second average. The Tap 20's 750GB 5,400-rpm hard drive loaded Windows in 0:44. The XPS 18's 500GB 5,400-rpm hard drive blazed past the competition with a boot time of just 19 seconds.
During the File Transfer Test, the Horizon 27 duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 3 minutes and 27 seconds for a transfer rate of 25 MBps. That's well below the 91 MBps average, but enough to beat the Tap 20's 12MBps. It was no match, however, for the Dell XPS' 33 MBps.
When we ran the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro Test, the Horizon 27 matched 20,000 names and addresses in 5 minutes and 39 seconds. This showing was enough to fend off the Tap 20 (5:47) and the XPS 18 (5:58).
The Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27 isn't a souped-up gaming rig, so you won't be playing "Crysis 3" on it. But thanks to its Nvidia GeForce GT 620M GPU with 2GB of VRAM, Intel integrated graphics and Nvidia Optimus technology, you can go raiding in titles like "World of Warcraft."
On the 3DMark11 benchmark, the Horizon 27 scored 1,133. This showing trounces the Intel HD Graphics 4000-powered Dell XPS 18 (619) and Sony VAIO Tap 20 (569).
We saw a 52 fps frame rate from the Horizon 27 on Good at 1920 x 1080 on the "World of Warcraft" test. The number jumped to 68 fps when we switched to 1366 x 768. Both results are more than enough to beat the XPS 18 (25 fps at 1080p, 31 at 768p) and the Tap 20 (22 fps at 1600 x 900).
When we cranked the settings up to maximum, the Horizon 27 delivered an unplayable 24 fps at 1080 and a playable 37 fps at 768p.
During the Laptop Battery Test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi), the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27 lasted 2 hours and 57 minutes. Smaller, portable all-in-ones offer longer endurance, but this device was primarily designed to move from room to room. The Sony VAIO Tap 20 fared better with 3:50 while the Dell XPS 18 lasted 4:18.
Software and Warranty
Lenovo managed to find some space to cram in a few more apps and utilities for the Windows 8 side of things. Lenovo Support gives users a fast way to troubleshoot with access to user guides and forums. Lenovo System Rescue allows users to perform a system restore in case of a system crash. And in case you need to find more apps, Lenovo's included its Companion app store.
Lenovo also added a few kid-friendly apps to the mix, including "Lenovo Dress Up," where we had a blast tricking out our monkey in the best geek gear we could find. "Lenovo Drummer" is a rhythm-based game in the style of "Guitar Hero." We also liked "Lenovo Forest Adventures," which put us in the middle of an interactive storybook.
Third-party software includes Amazon Kindle, Rara.com, a music streaming site and McAfee Security Advisor.
Our $1,699 review unit, available on Lenovo.com, features a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5-3337U processor with 8GB of RAM, a 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive, Nvidia GeForce GT 620M GPU with 2GB of VRAM and an Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU. When the Horizon 27 arrives at Best Buy, this configuration will be available for $1,499. There's also a $1,899 version that bumps the processor up to a 2.0-GHz Intel Core i7-3537U CPU.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27 Table PC truly reimagines family computing with its innovative Aura interface, large library of multiuser content and unique bundled accessories. The games are fun and at their best when four people are playing. And while it's not the most portable all-in-one, the Horizon 27 is also a very satisfying big-screen Windows 8 machine, thanks to its Core i7 processor and Nvidia GPU. Music lovers will especially appreciate the surprisingly loud speakers.
There are certainly cheaper options on the market. The $1,349 Dell XPS 18 is much more portable and lasts longer on a charge, but lacks the immersive Aura interface. The Horizon is more like an entertainment center you can move from room to room. Overall, the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon 27 is a great choice for families who like to play together.