Don't Touch Me There
Best speakers and benchmark performance; strong price point.
No touch-screen; 100Mb/s Ethernet; no wall-mount option.
If you don’t like highly reflective displays and don’t care about a touch-screen user interface, Lenovo’s IdeaCentre B500 is the all-in-one to buy. It’s the fastest machine in the bunch, and it’s attractively priced at just $1,400.
Lenovo and Sony both reached for midrange Intel Core 2 Quad desktop processors—namely, the 2.66GHz Core 2 Quad 8400S—but Lenovo paired the CPU with speedier memory (4GB of 1,066MHz DDR3, compared to the 6GB of 800MHz DDR2 memory Sony chose) and a more powerful discrete mobile GPU (Lenovo tapped Nvidia’s GeForce GTS 250M, which has 96 cores, while Sony uses the GeForce GT 240M, which has only 48). Lenovo uses a proprietary motherboard with an Intel G41 chipset.
If you can get over the absence of a touch screen, Lenovo's IdeaCentre B500-08873AU delivers terrific performance.
You’ll either love or hate the Lenovo’s bold color scheme and angular aesthetics. We like the brushed-metal and black diamond-plate (although the latter is visible only from behind), but the aggressive edges and orange accents strike us as a wee bit garish. We do like the down-facing LED that illuminates the keyboard ( HP’s TouchSmart has a similar feature, but you can change the HP’s hue to any color in the rainbow).
All four machines came with Media Center remote controls, but Lenovo’s is a unique motion-sensing Bluetooth model that’s compatible with the handful of FlingPC games that come preinstalled on the computer (tennis, ping-pong, pool, bowling, etc.). You can use the remote like a tennis racket, ping-pong paddle, or pool cue and swing it around to interact with the games (Lenovo thoughtfully includes a wrist lanyard lest the remote slip out of your hand and smash into the display). It’s just like Nintendo’s Wii, except that the controller is only half as responsive and not nearly as dependable—we gave up in disgust after repeatedly watching our ping-pong ball literally pass through our onscreen paddle.
The Lenovo’s JBL stereo speakers were the best in the field—although that’s not saying much; none of these machines will satisfy an audiophile—but the computer’s sound quality surprised us given Lenovo’s decision to use Realtek’s aging ALC662 codec. And given the attention to performance in other areas, we were surprised to discover that the Lenovo’s hardwired LAN interface supports only 100Mb/s Ethernet (the integrated Wi-Fi adapter is compatible with IEEE 802.11b/g/n networks). The rest of the components are more in line with the rest of the field: There’s a 1TB Seagate hard drive, a slot-fed Blu-ray/DVD-burner combo drive, and an ATI TV Wonder tuner.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 is a strong, attractively priced contender, but we’re willing to trade its superior performance and a little more coin to get the HP’s touch screen, user interface, custom apps, superior web cam, and flexible mounting options.
|Processor||Intel 2.66GHz Core 2 Quad Q8400S|
|Chipset ||Intel G41 Express w/82801GB I/O controller|
|RAM||4GB/1066 DDR3 in dual-channel mode|
|Videocard ||Nvidia GeForce GTS 250M with 1GB memory|
|Display ||23-inch LCD, 1920x1080 resolution|
|LAN ||100Mb/s Ethernet; 802.11b/g/n; Bluetooth|
|Storage||1TB Seagate ST31000528AS|
|Optical ||Blu-ray player / DVD burner combo drive|
|Zero Point ||Lenovo IdeaCentre B500-08873AU|
|Premiere Pro CS3||1,026 sec||840 sec|
|Photoshop CS3||143 sec||141 sec|
|ProShow Producer||1,229 sec||997 sec|
Our test bed consists of a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700, 2GB of Corsair DDR2/800 RAM on an EVGA 680 SLI motherboard, two EVGA GeForce 8800 GTX cards in SLI mode, a Western Digital 150GB Raptor and 500GB Caviar hard drive, an LG GGC-H20L optical drive, a Sound Blaster X-Fi, and a PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750 Quad. OS is Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.