Friday, 16 December 2011

Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 All-in-One PC


Lenovo’s venture into the all-in-one PC segment is pretty well known. We reviewed the ThinkCentre A70z in May. However, it did not really match our expectations when it came to the performance. The IdeaCentre B500 was launched globally, early last year. Lenovo is primarily trying to woo home users who are looking at an All-in-One for pure entertainment purposes. We put the B500 through the grind.

Design and Build Quality
The B500 is as easy to setup as most all in ones. Hook the screen onto a power source, switch on the PC and the bundled wireless mouse and keyboard is usually detected automatically. In about 5 minutes, you are done with the setup.
Trendy design, with JBL 2.0 speakers at the bottom
Trendy design, with JBL 2.0 speakers at the bottom


The 23-inch screen has a matte-finish with glossy bezel around it. There’s no wastage on either of the four sides of the screen and towards the bottom, Lenovo has added a chrome trim and there's built-in JBL stereo speakers housed at the bottom corners of the screen. There’s a stand behind that can help tilt the screen to an angle of 60 degrees. You might find the stand to be a little too tight, but afterwards it moves a lot more smoothly. There are ports behind the screen, as well as a few placed on the left of the screen. The right side houses a DVD tray and just towards the edge of the bezel on the right bottom, there are touch-sensitive keys to adjust brightness, volume, a wireless setup key to setup the keyboard and mouse. Lenovo has also added a button to power off the screen (not the entire PC), which is pretty thoughtful, given that many All-in-Ones don’t usually have that.
Stand is pretty sturdy and rests the screen well enough
Stand is pretty sturdy and rests the screen well enough


The wireless keyboard has a brush-metal finish and there’s quite a lot of space below, although the mat which houses the keyboard is tad smaller than the standard keyboard size. The mouse also is big enough to fit in your palm and the buttons are easy to click. Lenovo has also bundled a remote control to watch videos and play motion controlled games (which come pre-loaded). The remote is like any other TV remote, in terms of button layout, the only difference being the top half has keys designed to access Windows Media Center and different buttons to play/pause a movie, rewind, forward and the like.
Transformer-inspired!?!
Transformer-inspired!?!


The overall design of the B500 is very appealing with the dash of orange added to the grill behind and the edges of the screen sporting a very trendy look. For that matter, the build quality of everything, right from the screen to the remote control is quite good.

Features
The B500 has some decent features, albeit an outdated processor. The All-in-One is powered by an Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400 processor clocking 2.66 GHz, but it was launched in the second quarter of 2009. There’s 4GB of DDR3 RAM and Lenovo has been thoughtful enough to add  1TB of HDD which is pretty much sufficient to hold most of your movies, photos and music. The B500 is not meant for high-end gaming as it has an ATi Radeon HD 5450 graphics card.
Should have had a Blu-Ray player instead
Should have had a Blu-Ray player instead
 Behind the screen, there are 4 USB ports, one AV-in port, an Ethernet port and a PS/2 port, if you want to connect a PS/2 wired mouse or keyboard. The B500 also has an in-built TV Tuner so all you have to do is plug in your cable TV connector into the TV port and you can watch your daily television serials on the B500. At the left side, there are 2 USB ports and one line-in and a standard 3.5 mm audio jack as well. You can access content from a memory card as it has a 5-in-1 Memory Card slot. In terms of connectivity, the B500 is quite up to date with Wi-Fi 802.11 bg and integrated Bluetooth.
Ports at the back of the B500
Ports at the back of the B500


The B500 has an integrated webcam and we kind of found a small issue with the way it’s placed. Being a 23-inch screen, the webcam is placed at the top and if you’re sitting in front of the PC with the screen tilted at a wide angle, it’ll be a bit of a task to align yourself with the camera and type on the keyboard simultaneously.

Performance
The B500’s performance cannot be judged by simply looking at the configuration. So we ran it through its paces to see what this All-in-One actually has to offer. While the B500 did well in most scores, it cannot be classified as impressive. We copied sequential and assorted 4GB file sets and saw a below average score of 52.51 MB/s in both cases. In comparison, the A70z could do the same at a speed of 58.51 MB/s. File compression took 51 seconds, which is pretty decent in comparison to the A70z.

While the scores do matter, there are a few other things worth mentioning. The viewing angles of the screen are pretty decent and you won’t really have issues with change in colours or anything of that sort. We ran a video of 720p resolution and saw that it ran very smoothly. There’s not much of colour saturation on the screen and the video quality is pretty decent.
an Average Joe performer
An average joe performer


The keyboard is pretty comfortable to use ergonomically although we did find it the regular Insert, Delete, Home and End buttons to be placed in a vertical line along the right side of the QWERTY half of the keyboard.

The integrated JBL 2.0 speakers sound well and while it captures most of the details in the frequency range properly, cranking the volume to maximum gives a slight blending effect in the sound, mixing up different frequencies. The remote control works really well and the bundled games like Table Tennis are pretty much fun to play with.
Steep price tag, but well equipped with features
Steep price tag, but well equipped with features


Verdict
The B500’s price is a slight turn off. You have some really good features like a 1 TB HDD, 4GB of RAM and Full HD playback capability. There are a few things like a lack of an HDMI port or even a Blu-Ray drive instead of DVD would give a lot of value to its price. At Rs. 56,000 the B500 is a good option (and is definitely better than the A70z) for those looking strictly at watching movies and using the PC for low power consumption activities like surfing the web or editing documents. However, if space is not your primary concern, we would rather recommend you to assemble a PC with better specifications.

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