Lenovo ThinkCentre M92z All-In-One Desktop PC

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SOFTWARE

Like previous Lenovo systems we've reviewed, the M92z is packed with pre-installed software, though most of it consists of Lenovo system management utilities. There is some third party bloatware as well: Adobe Reader/Air, Corel Burn Now and DVD MovieFactory, Evernote, and trial versions of Office 2010 and Norton Internet Security. On the initial boot-up, the total used size of the operating system partition was already ~65GB.


HD Tune Read benchmark result.

Of the Lenovo software included only a couple of utilities really caught our eye. One app that got our attention was "AutoLock" a simple program that uses the webcam and facial recognition to put on the Windows lock screen when you walk away after a predetermined amount of time.

"SimpleTap" is an touch UI that works like a primitive version of Windows 8's Metro/Modern UI. Clicking on the shortcut to SimpleTap (a red button on the taskbar) takes you into Android/iOS style home screen with shortcuts to various applications or web pages. You can hold and drag icons to move their position, swipe left and right to get to more home screens

The problem is all of the apps and pages you can launch are simply modified versions of what you would see running in vanilla Windows 7. Many of the shortcuts, like YouTube for example, simply takes the desktop browser version of the site and puts it in full screen with basic navigation controls at the top.

There are some original Lenovo apps as well but they're not terribly impressive. Take Lenovo Music, a music player with everything you'd expect, that have like Cover Flow, playlists, search ability, but when you actually play a song, it launches Windows Media Player in a new window, and exposes the taskbar in the process, effectively breaking out of SimpleTap and reminding you that plain old Windows is available in the background.

PERIPHERALS

While the physical hardware inside a PC determines the speed, responsiveness, energy efficiency and noise of an all-in-one PC, the peripherals bundled with the unit are equally important as they are the interfaces with which the user interacts with the system. Some of these things like the mouse and keyboard are easily replaced, but if you also have to purchase separate webcam and/or speakers, it makes the all-in-one form factor somewhat superfluous.

Screen

Naturally, the most important peripheral is the screen — it can tint your entire experience regardless of the sophistication of the gear sitting behind it. The M92z's 23 inch 1920 x 1080 panel is somewhat disappointing. Everything looks a bit washed out as if an infinitesimally thin sheet of white paper was placed over the surface. If it wasn't for the incredible viewing angles, we wouldn't have realized it was an IPS panel. If you're in mixed company, be aware that NSFW content can be viewed without distortion even at very acute angles. The display also has a fairly good level of brightness but the added luminosity amplifies the screen's under-saturation. It would be a shame if this is a side-effect or compromise for having a touch interface incorporated into the screen, especially as touch doesn't really add to the overall experience in our opinion.

On a unit like the M92z where the user will be sitting about two feet from the screen, touch just doesn't make sense. It's very difficult to make accurate touches on such a large display that's also at an arm's length distance away, especially compared to a 7 to 10 inch tablet that's resting on your lap. Touch on Windows 7 is also not very functional, that is it doesn't make any task easier to perform than using a mouse and/or keyboard, except perhaps touchscreen gaming, drawing/painting, and point-of-sale.

Webcam

The webcam is serviceable and even a step-up if you're used to the grainy 0.3 megapixel shooters found on budget netbooks and laptops. The color is a bit off, cooler than normal, perhaps to offset the traditionally warm lighting commonly found indoors. Performance in poor lighting isn't great but we appreciate that it doesn't try to correct for this by pumping up the ISO and artificially increasing the brightness of the image to create an ugly, pixelated mess. If you're paranoid, there's also a manual shutter you can use to physically block the camera. We were neither impressed or disappointed by the camera itself but we were surprised that Skype wasn't pre-installed. If there was one piece of software that should be pre-loaded into an all-in-one PC, Skype would be it.

Speakers

Though "ThinkCentre" is Lenovo's business line, the speakers aren't an afterthought like they are in most all-in-ones or desktop bundles. They aren't terribly large, located along the bottom of the screen, but the M92z is equipped with Dolby Advanced sound enhancement. The sound quality is surprisingly good, especially the bass, something very rare for any set of integrated speakers. It doesn't distort until the volume is pumped up very high and though it's still a bit flat compared to a value set of desktop 2.0/2.1 speakers, it's probably good enough for most users.

Keyboard/Mouse

The wireless keyboard and mouse we received with our sample are unremarkable. The keyboard feels quite solid but we wish there was more travel — the keys aren't spongy but they don't spring back up to attention with as much confidence as we would like. The placement of the Prt Scr key between the right ALT and CTRL keys was also disorienting but to be fair this is used a lot more by reviewers than regular users. The mouse is undersized but is otherwise inoffensive, being fairly light and having generic contours. Like the keyboard, the buttons and scroll wheel aren't very quiet — they're quite clicky.



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