Usage Impressions, Conclusion
Lenovo thoughtfully included a discrete GPU in the Horizon which is more than enough to play included touch-based titles like Monopoly and Draw Race 2. The system was also able to handle some older mainstream games without issue although you’ll need to bump the graphics settings down a notch or two unless you’re content to play around 30 FPS.
Some of the included games can actually be a lot of fun as I spent several hours playing Monopoly with friends on more than one ocassion. Everything here worked as it should and it’s a bit more convenient than playing the old fashioned way. Sticking with the games theme for a moment, the included gaming accessories worked as advertised. Lenovo Air Hockey was good for a bit of entertainment although the touch interface lagged behind a little.
Additionally, games with a lot of on-screen action and graphics like Lenovo Roulette were noticeably laggy. I credit this not to the processor or the graphics card not being able to keep up but rather the hard drive.
Lenovo’s decision to equip the Horizon with a 5,400 RPM hard drive is baffling. Just to put that into perspective, the first 7,200 RPM hard drive was released in 1997 – some 16 years ago. I understand cutting corners to reduce overall cost but this is a mistake no matter how you look at it. Even with the third generation Core i5 processor and 6GB of RAM, the entire system feels incredibly sluggish as a result of the storage choice.
While we’re on the subject, the Horizon will be a tough sell for Lenovo as the processor is already outdated. A Haswell chip would have been preferred in this system, not so much because of its modest performance gains, but because of its improved battery life.
Another real complaint with the Horizon is the display. For a 27-inch monitor that you’ll be up close and personal with, a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Think about it – we now have 7-inch tablets with similar resolutions and 10-inch slates with 2,560 x 1,600 resolution panels. With the Horizon’s low-resolution display, there was several times where I could see jagged lines and pixelation without really trying.
Resolution aside, the quality of the display is average at best. Viewing angles weren’t terrible but given the intended use as a tabletop PC, I expected better.
Lenovo should have also included more USB ports on the Horizon. You’re left with a single free USB port with the basic input devices plugged or potentially no free ports if you use an aftermarket keyboard and mouse.
I’m a bit torn on the idea of an integrated battery. On one side, it’s pretty cool to be able to unplug the machine and play without a power source yet at the same time it isn’t terribly practical. The system weighs just under 20 pounds so it isn’t very portable.
I conducted our standard notebook battery tests on the Horizon Table PC. Our video playback test consists of looping a 720p rip of the movie Inception at full screen with max brightness and Wi-Fi disabled. This is a taxing test that resulted in 2 hours and 8 minutes of battery life. Our Powermark test consisted of running the application at default settings under the “Balanced” profile which gives a mixed workload of web browsing, word processing, gaming and video playback. This test was also run at max screen brightness and resulted in 1 hour and 56 minutes of uptime.
With this, I guess battery life depends on your expectations. If you are simply looking to relocate the Table PC within your house without having to turn off the system, or throw a quick game and then be able to plug the system back in, it will work adequately well. Anything more than that and you will run out of battery sooner than you think.
Our informal YouTube 4k resolution video test pushed the CPU to around the 60-70 percent usage range on average. The video never showed any signs of lag nor did the cooling fan ever spin to a noticeable level.
The stereo speakers are mounted on the back of the machine behind the display. While they were able to get louder than a typical notebook without distortion, they exhibit the same tinny sound quality that you’d find with a portable. In other words, they aren’t exactly on the same level as the Beats implementation in some of the HP all-in-ones we’ve previously tested.
A touch-enabled all-in-one running Windows 8 that doubles as a tabletop gaming machine is innovative and has a ton of potential on paper, but unfortunately the Horizon Table PC fell way short in realizing that potential. A slow 5,400 RPM hard drive that drags the entire system down, only two USB ports, a low-resolution display and an outdated CPU (in that order) are all signs that you should skip the Horizon and look elsewhere.
Pros: Novel concept that we'd like to continue to develop. Decent graphics performance, ten-finger touch support, included touch-based games for use in tabletop mode with friends, internal battery for 'some' in-house portability.
Cons: Slow hard drive, only two USB ports, heavy and bulky. Display could be better.