Power delivered in an unconventional design.
Touchscreen & Windows 8
The touchscreen is a fancy addition at best, and of course there are plenty of apps installed that you can use to test it out. I can share one thing with you, there’s no greater fun than playing Angry Birds on a 27” screen. Lenovo bundles plenty of other games as well as educational apps such as a paint studio and a two-person piano app, so you’ll certainly get a lot of use from the touch screen if you’ve got younger family members. I had some fun with a DJ app in Chrome that let me mix some songs together with the A720 lying flat like a virtual turntable.
When poised at a slight incline, I tried to do a bit of work in Photoshop, but I found it too cumbersome to make precise adjustments to files, so I assume that if you had a stylus you might have better luck. I put together a simple video clip in Windows Movie Maker which was slightly easier to use thanks to its mostly drag and drop interface. After swiping around and playing Fruit Ninja for a good fifteen minutes, I came away with a rather sore finger, as the touchscreen has quite a bit of friction to it. The other confusing thing with the touch software is that every so often it would just completely die out and stop working – even after several attempts I couldn’t get it working again without a reboot, which was a bit unfortunate. I certainly hope that this is going to be a rare occurrence or users might not end up using the touchscreen at all.
While I appreciate that Lenovo is trying to show everyone how awesome a 27” touchscreen can be, there is far too much software plodded on to this device when you first boot it up. There’s a launcher that resides to the right of your screen, as well as a larger launcher you can open up to get to the various apps. The bundled Cyberlink DVD software is also a bit of a resource hog, so my advice is to switch to something a bit more streamlined.
Since the A720 runs Windows 7 and has a touchscreen, it was only obvious that I fired up Windows 8 Release Preview on it, and sure enough about 20 minutes later I was staring at the familiar Metro interface. Using Windows 8 on a large screen certainly makes a difference from running it on a laptop or tablet, and browsing through the various apps was extremely easy to use. I still have my hangups about the Metro interface, but regardless it ran flawlessly on the A720.
Heat and Noise levels
Given that the A720 was packing some serious power, it does tend to heat up quite often. The left side of the base unit (where the ventilation is) was warm to the touch when the unit was left idle or when watching some light video clips, registering a core temperature of about 52C. But during my benchmarks when I was really pushing the internals, the temperature rose to around 76C and the fan did kick into high gear for a short time to bring the temperature back down. Under normal operating conditions, the fan noise was down to a gentle background hum, so unless you are doing some very technical work that taxes both CPU and GPU, the unit remains mostly cool and quiet.
The Lenovo A720 is certainly an impressive piece of tech. If you’re not floored by the sheer size and beauty of its screen, it can pull off a few yoga poses of its own to impress you thanks to its almost industrial-strength hinge. The touchscreen is an added bonus, but at the end of the day it remains to be seen how much quicker you can get things done using the touchscreen over a keyboard and mouse. But at its heart, the Lenovo A720 is a powerful machine that not only looks great, but delivers some very good results no matter what you throw at it.