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Screen & Peripherals: Lenovo ThinkCentre A70Z
Peripherals are often overlooked in all-in-one PCs, but as they can be as important
as the hardware inside. With almost all computers being fast enough for all
tasks an average user would perform, the quality of the screen, speakers, keyboard
and mouse become more noticeable.
ThinkCentre A70Z display.
The A70Z's matte screen is fairly bright; we only had to set the brightness
to 40% for indoor use in moderate light. It's a sharp display but the colors
seem a bit dull. The speakers have a high maximum volume, but they produce poor
quality at that level. Overall they sound better than most laptop speakers but
are still rather tinny and hollow.
The webcam seems lacking compared to standalone 1.3 megapixel models, producing
images that are a touch on the grainy side, even in well-lit conditions. The
webcam also tints everything toward the cooler end of the color spectrum, so
if a person is cast in warm yellow light from an incandescent bulb, on screen,
the redness of their flesh disappears and he/she looks like they're under white
fluorescents. Its performance in low light is surprisingly good, with objects
in the background clearly visible in a darkened room with the screen as the
only source of light. This strength is more useful in a home environment.
A70Z keyboard and mouse.
The keyboard has a standard layout, and the keys have a good amount of resistance,
though they are quite loud. The mouse is surprisingly small, more closely resembling
a notebook mouse than a desktop model. It has a rubberized coating on the top
surface and slight contours at the side. Like the keyboard, its good enough,
but that's about as much enthusiasm as we can generate. A poor set of speakers
and/or webcam on a business machine can certainly be forgiven, but a higher
quality keyboard and mouse could go along way to improve productivity.
Screen & Peripherals: Asus EeeTop ET2203
EeeTop ET2203 display.
By comparison, the EeeTop screen is a joy to behold. It doesn't get as bright
as the A70Z, but for indoor use, it's more than bright enough. The colors definitely
pop more and the contrast is excellent. The speakers are more powerful than
the A70Z, but they're still noticeably worse than a cheap standalone pair, sounding
muffled and flat. The webcam is a 1.0mp model, but mes to captures a clearer,
less pixelated image than the ThinkCentre's camera. It doesn't do nearly as
well in low light, however.
ET2203 keyboard and mouse.
The included keyboard has the dimensions and layout of the same keyboard found
on their 13~14" UL series laptops, complete with FN hotkeys for controlling
WiFi and screen brightness, etc. The keys are shallow but springy, and if you
push down hard enough, there is some flex. It's not as comfortable to use as
a laptop keyboard as there is no palm rest. The mouse is closer to a full-sized
mouse in size and has a pleasntly smooth, glossy surface.
Both machines came pre-loaded with Adobe AIR and Reader, the trial version
of Office 2007, and a myriad of mostly useless utilities from the manufacturer.
The Asus machine also came with Skype, Arcsoft TotalMedia Theatre, and some
children's games with titles like "Chicken Invaders 2." The ThinkCentre
on the other hand only had one application the EeeTop didn't: Roxio Creator.
These choices are clear indications of what each system is designed for.
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