Lenovo Adds New Horizon Touch Computers

Lenovo Horizon 2e and 2s

Monitors/All-in-Ones – At the Pepcom Event on September 29th, I had a chance to talk to Lenovo about its two new all-in-one touch screen computers that had been introduced earlier in the month at IFA. Both computers are unabashedly targeting the home market, not professional applications. These units are ‘little brothers’ compared to the Lenovo Horizon 2 introduced earlier.

The two computers, the Horizon 2s and 2e were similar from a computer point of view. Both the Horizon 2s and 2e come with a 4th generation Intel Core processor and Windows 8.1. They have Bluetooth 4.0 for fast device pairing, as well as WiFi (of course!) and NFC (optional on the 2e). Both models feature integrated Dolby Home Theater stereo speakers for professional-grade multimedia sound control and optional gaming accessories, including joystick, e-Dice and striker. The integrated battery provides up to 2.5 hours of streaming HD via WiFi on the 2s and three hours on the 2e. The 2e includes 3x USB 3.0, HDMI-in and a 6-in-1 card reader.  The 2s includes 2x USB 3.0 and an SD card reader but not HDMI input.

The screens are the big deal with the two systems, in part since that is pretty much all you see. Both are 1920 x 1080 touch screens. The 2s (Lenovo says “s” representing “slim”) has a 19.5” screen with 10-point multitouch, is 15mm (0.59 inches) thick and weights 2.5kg (5.5 pounds). The Horizon 2e has a 21.5” screen, is 28mm (1.1 inch) thick and weights 4.6kg (10.1 pounds). The Horizon 2 is even bigger – 7.14Kg (15.7 pounds) and with a 27.5” touch screen, although complete technical specs are not available.

All three versions of the Horizon computer are intended as dual-mode.  Set upright with the built-in stand or external stand (an option with the 2s that also provides a power connection), they operate as normal windows 8.1 touch screen computers. A wireless keyboard and mouse is included with both units.

When put down flat on a table top, the 2e and 2s automatically switch into a games mode, using the Lenovo Aura gaming environment. The two units come pre-loaded with 40+ multi-user gaming and education applications that run within the Aura environment, plus other games are available for download. The games include classics like chess and checkers, that were always multi-user games in a flat, horizontal environment. If desired, Aura can be bypassed and the computer can continue to act as a Windows 8.1 touch screen computer, even when horizontal.

The Lenovo Horizon 2s has a $949 MSRP while the larger Horizon 2e has an MSRP of $749. You pay a premium for the slim, small and light weight 2s compared to the 2e with a larger screen. The 2e and 2s will be available beginning in October.  Of course, the Horizon 2 with a 27.5” touch screen has a still higher price, $1600 MSRP, although it is currently available for less.

I had a chance to play with the two units at Pepcom. They were fun to play with and had good image quality (except for reflections off the touch screen) but I wondered about the long term utility of the dual-mode operation, horizontal and vertical. I’m not a fan of Windows 8 or even 8.1, which I understand it somewhat better. Nor am I personally a fan of games. Switching from horizontal to vertical and back again was easy at Pepcom, but at home, where you are burdened with attached wires for things like your back-up hard drive (you do have one, don’t you?) and a power connector, it wouldn’t be quite so simple. But I guess if you are a PC game fan and need a computer for a restricted space such as a dorm room, this might be OK. I think I still prefer my laptop for mobility combined with a large external monitor on my desk. After all, a 21.5” screen isn’t big enough (for me) for full time desktop use but is really too big for practical mobile operation.  –Matthew Brennesholtz