Power delivered in an unconventional design.
It seems that desktops PCs went through a bit of evolution over the last 20 years or so. In the early 90s they were dull beige boxes that just sat under your desk or under your monitor and went about their business. As the years flew by they became sleeker but still hung on to their drab metallic colors. Once people recovered from the Y2K hoopla, desktop PCs morphed into something more attention-grabbing. They took on new designs and shapes. They adopted glossier finishes and more appealing colors. And in recent years, they have grown even more compact while still delivering impressive performance. And then came the all-in-one (AIO) – a PC that didn’t have anything but a screen, keyboard, and mouse, with all off the essentials hidden cleverly away. This meant less cable clutter and less desk space was required, and we found ourselves a winner. While in recent times we have seen a few manufacturers putting out some pretty decent AIO machines, none of them have so far wowed us here at the t-break labs.
That is of course, until the Lenovo A720 came along.
Design & Build Quality
Even without unpacking it, I can tell that the A720 is a AIO after my heart. Sliding it out of the box and setting it up was as simple as removing the packaging and plugging in a power cable. The A720 looks absolutely beautiful from whatever angle you look at it, and it’s the gorgeous 27” screen that first catches your eye. The super-slim frameless touch display is just beautiful and only 24.5mm thick, which gives credit to Lenovo’s claim that this is the world’s slimmest AIO.
The huge display is connected to a ridiculously strong aluminum hinge, and when I say strong I absolutely mean it – this thing was built to take a fair bit of abuse as the screen can tilt at a variety of angles to make the touchscreen experience more comfortable. When fully upright the screen looks like a regular desktop monitor; tilt it at a slight angle and it looks more like something you’d see at an artist’s studio. Lie the screen fully flat and it’s a 10 point touch surface that’s great for playing games with other people (or the piano).
The base of the A720 looks quite ordinary, but it’s here where all the magic is hidden away, so that the screen can achieve its super-slim profile. The base houses the CPU, graphics card and HDD, and is where you’ll find all of your connectivity options. On the right side of the base is a slot-loading DVD or Blu-ray drive and a memory card reader, as well as a large power button on the right side of the display. The back of the base sports ports for Gigabit Ethernet, power, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB 3.0 port, audio jacks, and an optional TV tuner card. The right side of the base has another USB 3.0 port as well as separate ports HDMI in and out. That’s right – the HDMI In port allows you to connect any HDMI compatible device such as a gaming console and use the gorgeous 27” screen with a simple touch of a button. It’s a very handy feature to have for anyone to use however they see fit, whether they want to connect a console or another PC.
One thing I would have liked changed on the A720 is to have the HDMI ports moved to the back and have the USB and audio ports brought to the side. It was a bit finicky to have to keep getting up and hunting down a free USB port at the back each time I wanted to connect something.
Screen & Keyboard
The display has no physical buttons (except for the power button on the right side) and has small ambient indicators on the lower left for power, HDD activity, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. On the lower right you have touch controls for swapping input sources, adjusting volume and brightness, and also for turning off the screen without powering off the unit.
You’ve got 1080p support with a resolution of 1920×1200, which is a bit disappointing as I would think for a screen that gorgeous they would be able to pack in some more pixels for a slightly higher resolution. And while the screen is great to look at, I found that it was a bit too glossy for my liking. When setup in a room with even a little bit of sunlight in the room, I found that I kept seeing my reflection in the screen when working with dark images or playing Diablo III. At night or under artificial lighting this became less noticeable, but tilting the screen a bit made my mug shot visible again. A friend of mine said that this is a similar issue he faced on his iMac, and had to buy a special film to attach to his screen that would make it less reflective. I can understand that Lenovo had to make the screen both durable and glossy on account of it being a touch surface, but I had to say that it’s hard to play games when you keep seeing your face staring back at you (especially mine).
Given the sleek design and immense care that was put into the A720, I was utterly shocked by the flimsy keyboard and mouse that was bundled with my unit. The keyboard was well spaced and full-sized, but the keys often felt less resistant to my typing, and I found myself having to depress the spacebar quite hard when typing. What’s also very irritating is that the left Control key has been swapped around with the ‘Fn’ function key, so I was almost always pressing Fn+C instead of Ctrl+C when typing. You really don’t understand how much you use the Control key until some genius decides to go and mess around with a keyboard layout. The rest of the keyboard is fairly plain, with volume controls and a mute button at the top left, as well as a tiny indicator that tells you when the two AA batteries need changing.
The mouse is also rather boring and felt very cheap in my hands compared to the overall grandeur of the A720. It’s almost as if Lenovo found the lease expensive mouse they could find and stamped their logo across the top. What’s particularly confusing is that the keyboard and mouse operate using a standard wireless receiver, so there’s one of your USB ports taken up. Given that the machine bundled with Bluetooth, it would have made more sense to have a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and keep the USB port free.