Ashley Perry demonstrates the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC at Lenovo's tent at CES.(Photo: H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY)
By Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY
LAS VEGAS - Remember Microsoft's original Surface PC from 2008?
Gates promoted it heavily in one of his last acts as a full-time
Microsoft employee. It was a 30-inch, interactive tabletop computer
that recognized and responded to objects and human touch - you can still
spot them in stores, hotels and other commercial establishments, but
they never quite got down to your den or living room.
envision a different outcome for the Windows 8-based Lenovo IdeaCentre
Horizon Table PC unveiled at CES, when it starts shipping this summer at
around $1,699 for a high-end configuration.
Windows 8 sales may
be slow to get going, but to give up on Microsoft's latest operating
system would be silly. Prowling the exhibits at CES here, you come
across plenty of new Windows 8 computers and tablets, even if Microsoft
as a company is lying low at this latest tech-fest. And the IdeaCentre
is just plain fun.
Lenovo's new consumer-oriented computer, which
has a 27-inch high-definition multitouch display panel, could pass for
the Surface PC's first born, at least when it is transformed from an
all-in-one Windows 8 desktop PC into table mode.
That happens when
you lay it flat. Upon doing so, the Win 8 interface is automatically
overtaken by what Lenovo refers to as the Aura interface, a
touch-friendly environment that provides an ideal scenario for having
multiple folks gather round to do their own thing. One person might be
admiring photos using the pinch and zoom gestures familiar to tablet and
smartphone users. Another might be watching a video. There's ample room
on the screen for a bunch of things to be happening, all at the same
time. Of course, you are just as likely to be involved in a communal
activity, which typically means games.
The computer supports what
the industry refers to as "10-finger touch" and a bunch of gestures. You
can virtually flick things off the screen. You can spin a circular
widget to launch videos, music or different programs.
One such program might be a computerized version of a classic board game such as Monopoly.
Or you can try your luck, as I did, at roulette, which seemed like a
perfectly appropriate thing to do in the Las Vegas environment in which I
experienced some play time with Lenovo's tabletop computer.
says there will be customized games and educational apps that are
preloaded from companies such as Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, FableVision
and BlueStacks. You can fetch others from an online apps store.
Available accessories will include e-dice, joysticks and a striker.
the player, the action is a blend of the physical with the digital - an
activity that Lenovo terms "phygital." That's how I was able to play,
not particularly well at first, a convincing game of air hockey. The
striker was physical, and the puck was virtual.
But the Horizon is
not all fun and games. Propped up in Windows 8 desktop mode, you can
engage in more traditional PC-like tasks to get some work done or surf
the Web, taking advantage of the touch navigation that Win 8 is good at.
Inside, Horizon can be outfitted with a third-generation Intel
i7 processor, rich Nvidia graphics and the Pro version of Windows 8. It
can have up to 8 gigabytes of memory and up to 1 terabyte of hard-drive
storage. You can add an optional 64 GB solid-state drive. The machine
has traditional connectors: USB 3.0, HDMI (for connecting to a
high-definition TV), and a 6-in-1 memory card reader. There's also a
720p high-def webcam and stereo speakers with Dolby Home Theater sound.
the computer is not meant to be portable - it weighs about 17 pounds -
you might schlep it from the kitchen to the coffee table, say. A
two-hour battery can keep it running for a relatively short period.
Lenovo plans to sell an optional mount that lets you move the computer
around, adjust its height and mount it vertically at a 90-degree angle.
8, of course, is a major departure from all the versions of Windows
that have preceded it. That can be viewed as good or bad, depending
where you're coming from, but the changes, especially ones this radical,
have to partly explain the disappointing early sales. You hear a lot
about the missing Start menu, for example, and Microsoft could have done
a better job of explaining the different iterations of Windows 8, the
regular version and the RT flavor built for tablets. Not all the early
computers take advantage of the things that Windows 8 is best at,
But Windows 8 also gives computer makers the
flexibility to try new designs, as Lenovo is demonstrating with its new
Table PC. My initial impression of the Horizon, based on nothing more
than a few minutes of playing around with the computer at a trade show,
is very positive. I've seen enough to say that I'm pumped to give it a
try at home.