Will Lenovo’s IdeaCentre Horizon ‘bring back family night’ or just drain the vacation fund?

Check out our review of the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon all-in-one table PC. 

Lenovo surprised everyone at CES by announcing the Horizon, an unusual all-in-one that can be laid flat and used as a tabletop device. A battery is included for up to two hours of use away from power and a demo at Intel’s press conference suggested it will “bring back family night.”

Is it really that much fun? We decided to put it to the test with a game of air hockey. Lenovo handed us a pair of unique capacitive-touch mallets and sent us to play. Though we did miss the feel and sound of a real puck the experience was far better than the cheap air hockey sets most people can afford. We had no problem sending the puck flying across the screen or blocking incoming shots. The only handicap was the glossy display which made the game difficult to enjoy in Lenovo’s brightly lit showcase.

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We also briefly played Monopoly, poker and several arcade games. Monopoly was disappointing, but that was the fault of a grating soundtrack and shaky performance rather than the Horizon’s touch controls. Poker, however, seemed like good fun. Lenovo connected two of its smartphones to the Horizon and let us use them to display cards, though that’s not required to play the game. Virtual cash was used to make bets and players could toss chips in the pot by swiping on his or her smartphone.

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The selection of games is only part of what Lenovo’s custom interface, known as Aura, offers. It can display a variety of media content, including photos and video, on a virtual tabletop. Each individual media item can move, rotate and resize with a few simple gestures. There’s also a selection of creativity and productivity apps that we didn’t have the opportunity to check out.

Though we enjoyed our time with the Horizon we can’t deny that its price is intimidating. $1,699 buys the all-in-one with a stable of capacitive accessories, but the stand is not included (pricing is unannounced). Will families spend almost $2,000 to play virtual versions of  games sold at a fraction of the price? We have our doubts.  

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