Saturday, December 3, 2022

Lenovo IdeaCentre AIO 5i (27-inch) review: a lot of beauty, not enough power

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When you think avant-garde office design, the name Lenovo does not immediately come to mind. But no matter what you think of the rest of the IdeaCentre AIO 5i, you have to agree that its industrial design makes it one of the most unusual and eye-catching all-in-one computers out there.

Let’s start by examining this design. A large, square base houses some of the machine’s guts, but it mainly serves as a paperweight to support the large 27-inch (3840 x 2160 pixel) 4K touchscreen above. The support mechanism of this display is totally unexpected: a polished copper bar protrudes from the side of the base, then rotates diagonally upwards to attach to the back of the display. This connection is hinged, allowing you to tilt the screen forward or back. The design is really something to see, and it immediately makes a conversation piece when you first meet it, although the oversized Lenovo sticker on the front of the base detracts from the magic a bit.

The 27-inch 4K touchscreen hangs above the base by a side stabilizer arm.

Photography: Lenovo

While the IdeaCentre display looks good – and the brightness is through the roof – where it fails is in its holder to touch it. While the screen is responsive enough, this high-end connection arm doesn’t provide nearly enough stabilization. Rub the screen with your fingertip and it all starts to shake and shake, to the point that I had to largely give up touch controls for fear of getting seasick. A reasonably capable keyboard and mouse, both wireless, are included for your other input needs, but I was even more disappointed that support for these devices was not built into the computer itself; you need to park the included dongle in one of the system’s USB ports for them to work at all.

It’s a bit of a letdown, but the IdeaCentre 5i at least has a lot of old-fashioned USB ports to play with. The total range (including the ports on the back and on the left side of the device) includes a single USB-C port, four USB-A ports (two 3.1, two 2.0), an SD card reader, a HDMI output and input (so you can plug in A / V equipment or gaming devices) and Ethernet. The system is decidedly short of USB-C connectors, but otherwise the collection is decent.

The good news is that the system comes with a few thoughtful extras, including a 2-megapixel pop-up webcam and a cordless phone charger on the base. As with the HP Envy 32, I found that positioning my phone on the base required patience and careful alignment for it to charge properly, but it’s a handy addition nonetheless.

Take a look at this arm.

Photography: Lenovo

Performance is where the machine really stutters. The specs seem pretty solid: 3.6 GHz Core i5 (10th gen) processor, 8 GB of RAM, and two storage devices (a 256 GB SSD and a traditional 1 TB hard drive). However, the system’s overall app performance was poor, and its graphics-oriented scores were even worse – although the system didn’t have a discrete GPU, that wasn’t too surprising. Going through my benchmark database, I found that the low-end laptops released two years ago improved the performance for me that the IdeaCentre was able to muster today.

On the plus side, the JBL speakers sound good, which is encouraging if you plan on doubling the system as an entertainment center, and at $ 1,000 depending on configuration, the price is right. If the look of the system appeals to you, consider the $ 1,150 model which boosts RAM up to 16 gigabytes, although this comes at the expense of some of the storage space. Either way, you’ll need to make these decisions up front: like most AIOs, the system isn’t officially upgraded after purchase.

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