Cool gifts for geeks, 2011: Computer, notebook and tablet tech treasures

Computers and notebooks and tablets, oh my!

Page 7 of 12

IdeaCentre B520, by Lenovo

The Lenovo IdeaCentre is an all-in-one in more ways than one. In terms of form factor, this is your basic all-in-one computer system, where the display and computer is integrated into one stylish, black and silver device that's held vertical by a sturdy stand. That's good thing because this sucker weighs a lot - the box says 11.49kg net weight. I don't even need to do the math to know that you're not going to be moving this baby around the house once you get it set up.

In terms of function, Lenovo is trying to present the IdeaCentre as your all-in-one device for computing, social networking, playing games, watching TV, watching movies, doing video chats, storing pictures, etc. You name it, you can do it on the Lenovo B520.

The 23-inch screen is multi-touch, the mouse and keyboard are Bluetooth, there's a 2TB hard drive, it plays Blu-Ray discs, there's a TV tuner and remote controller, plus Lenovo claims that there's some 3D functionality (it even comes with 3D glasses).  The processor is an Intel Core i7-2600 (3.46GHz), and there's 8GB of RAM. The OS is Windows 7 Home Premium, and there are all the ports and connectors that you could ever want.

Except for the fact that the Bluetooth mouse all of sudden stopped working, the IdeaCentre performed admirably. I found members of my family who have with their own laptops gravitating to the Lenovo IdeaCentre, lured by the large screen and fast keyboard.  

But is the Lenovo IdeaCentre right for you? On the one hand, the world seems to be moving toward lighter, smaller and more mobile, rather than bigger, heavier and stuck in one place. Then again, it all depends on how many computer users you have in your house and how heavy your total DVD watching / TV show watching / game playing / doing homework / checking email / Web surfing adds up to. If your needs are on the low side, you could buy one of these and put it in a public spot in the house where everybody can get a crack at it.

On the other hand, with a list price of $1,999 for the unit we tested (Ed. Note: The systems start at $1,099), you can buy four iPads. Or you can buy two iPads and a couple of flat-screen TVs. You can even buy two pretty nice notebooks. You don't get the 23-inch screen and all of the bells and whistles, but you won't have many arguments over whose turn it is to play Angry Birds.

Cool Yule rating: 4 stars
Price (as tested): $1,999; systems start at $1,099
Reviewed by Neal Weinberg

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