The Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 All-in-One Desktop PC is Lenovo's latest lifestyle desktop PC targeted at home users for multimedia and entertainment usage. It comes with a TV Tuner card, a 23-inch widescreen full-HD display, very good looks and design, offers impressive performance and Nintendo Wii-like gaming.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 (57113765) improves on the design of the earlier IdeaCentre A600 all-in-one desktop PC. The IdeaCentre B500 now has a sleeker, leaner frame than the IdeaCentre A600 desktop PC. From the side the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 resembles a slider phone, with its screen bezel popping above and over the rest of its unit's frame. Its black on silver color scheme is much better compared to the jet-black Lenovo IdeaCentre A600 of the past. Also, the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 all-in-one desktop PC has a nice brushed metal frame on the back panel and below the screen, and a bold orange accent at the back, and it looks quite stylish and elegant in terms of overall design compared to prominent all-in-one PCs from other brands. The Lenovo IdeaCentre B500's onboard JBL speakers are placed prominently on the front and they're pretty good at pumping out music. Ports placement is also well thought out on the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500.
With its unique mix of a TV Tuner support and Nintendo Wii-like motion-sensing gaming, the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 rises above the rest and is simply the best all-in-one desktop PC to buy right now.
The IdeaCentre B500 all-in-one desktop's 23-inch wide case is nice and compact and strongly built -- no compromises whatsoever. It has a sturdy back stand which allows the Lenovo B500 all-in-one desktop PC to recline up to an angle of 30-degrees. In short, the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 desktop PC is space-saving, very well designed and better built than the MSI Wind Top AE2220 and Dell Studio One 19.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 all-in-one desktop PC comes with a 23-inch widescreen display which supports a full-HD (1080p) resolution of 1920x1080 pixels. The screen is the obvious centerpiece of the IdeaCentre B500's all-in-one desktop charm, and the widescreen display is non-glossy or matte in nature -- a rarity these days. The screen has very good viewing angles, is ideal for reading text and has no reflective glare whatsoever -- much like the HP Pavilion MS214 and Lenovo IdeaCentre C300 -- which is such a relief over glossy, glary displays flooding the all-in-one desktop PC segment. The Lenovo IdeaCentre B500's 23-inch widescreen display has a webcam grooved into its top bezel and it is one of the best integrated webcams we've seen on an all-in-one desktop PC -- not quite like the Apple iMac 24-inch's iSight camera, but still very good. The screen doesn't support touch input, though.
Just below the bottom right of the screen is a row of touch-sensitive buttons that let you adjust the screen brightness and volume, and toggle the LED-powered lamp underneath the screen's bezel. You can also switch off the display screen by pressing a button on the touch-sensitive strip for times when the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 has to work as a musical jukebox.
The bundled wireless keyboard and mouse with the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 are more or less the same as they were with the IdeaCentre A600. The wireless Bluetooth-enabled keyboard is thin and light and has a brushed metal finish that feels premium like the rest of the all-in-one desktop it comes with. The keys are nice and firm, well-laid out and very good to type on, and offer a dedicated number pad to the right. However, the keyboard doesn't have a touchpad area, which the earlier keyboard accompanying the IdeaCentre A600 had. But it comes with a one-touch LVT (Lenovo Vantage Technology) launch button. The keyboard had trouble connecting with the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500, but after its Bluetooth driver update and firmware fix it worked like a charm. The bundled wireless Bluetooth mouse with the IdeaCentre B500 all-in-one desktop PC is as great as ever -- it's big, chunky, ergonomically designed, and feels great in the hand. It had absolutely no trouble connecting with the Lenovo B500.
Although the MSI Wind Top AE2220's keyboard is sleeker and mouse smaller in size, we think the keyboard and mouse accompanying the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 is comparatively better in terms of usability.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 is one of the best all-in-one desktop PC we've reviewed in terms of internal hardware. An Intel Core 2 Quad Q8400S 2.66-GHz processor (4MB cache, 1333 MHz FSB), 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a 1TB hard drive spinning at 7200rpm, and an Nvidia GeForce GT 240M are all very good hardware building blocks -- better than the entry-level Apple iMac 27-inch. And the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of connectivity -- you get six USB 2.0 ports, 6-in-1 card reader slot, PS2 port, and a DVD writer. Not only this, the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 also offers Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. The IdeaCentre B500 desktop PC also comes with a built-in TV Tuner card and a port on the back to connect to your TV antenna, and an AV-in port (with the necessary connecting wires) which could come useful for connecting and viewing images off a camera. Disappointingly, though, the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 doesn't come with an HDMI or eSATA port -- nor a FireWire port which the earlier IdeaCentre A600 came with.
The IdeaCentre B500 has a pair of wireless Bluetooth-enabled keyboard and mouse, and media center remote control. The Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 all-in-one desktop PC comes with 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium operating system. The missing HDMI port is especially hard to digest, but other than that a very good hardware set and features on the IdeaCentre B500.
Useful Proprietary Software
As is the case with most Lenovo products, the IdeaCentre B500 all-in-one desktop PC comes with a useful set of proprietary software under its Lenovo Vantage Technology or LVT. It resides a dock at the top of the desktop screen, acting as a quick launch point to start services like Cyberlink Power2Go 6 CD/DVD burning software and CamSuite webcam wizard tool. Not just this, but under LVT's System Maintenance Center you can access OneKey Recovery, install drivers and applications, system setup. If your system has crashed and you want to restore it back to a previous state click F2 while the IdeaCentre B500 boots up to launch Lenovo Rescue System 3.0 -- here again you can launch the OneKey Recovery and more.
In terms of performance, the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 all-in-one desktop PC did very well through our slew of synthetic benchmarks. A WorldBench 6 score of over 100 is boasted by very few PCs and the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 is in that club of select few. Similarly, with a PC Mark 05, Cinebench, and PC Mark Vantage score of 8147, 11271, and 6752, respectively, the IdeaCentre B500 just sailed through our benchmarks. Like the Lenovo IdeaPad Y550 laptop, the B500 all-in-one desktop comes with an Nvidia GeForce GT240M graphics card and offers very good 3D Mark 06 score (6594) for its intended usage. No doubt, you can certainly game on the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 desktop PC -- we had fun playing FarCry 2 (at High settings) and Dawn of War: Warhammer 40,000. You should have no trouble multitasking with several programs on the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500, and both processor-intensive and memory-intensive applications should run fine.
Even in terms of multimedia entertainment for home, the IdeaCentre B500 is a very good all-in-one desktop PC to consider. The 23-inch full-HD screen displayed nice and vibrant cinematic visuals while we watched our test 720p and 1080p HD video files -- both of which ran smoothly on the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500. The audio from the desktop's front-placed JBL speakers is better than the MSI Wind Top AE2220's speakers -- it's nice and clear, and loud enough for a medium to large-sized room.
This is the pride and joy of the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 all-in-one desktop PC -- its wireless bluetooth Media Center remote. We like to call it the Wonder Remote for it is truly wonderful. Not only does it come with a full set of keys and buttons to better use the IdeaCentre B500 as a home theater PC (HTPC), but it also allows you to take calls through Skype, use it as an air mouse (with the direction keys), and play Nintendo Wii-like games on the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500. Powered by 3DiJoy.com, just install all the games included with the Lenovo's Fling PC disc to start the fun. You have games like bowling, table tennis, lawn tennis, fishing, pool, snowball throwing, etc., that requires you to actively participate in the game like you were playing it for real -- all thanks to Lenovo's motion sensor enabled remote controller. Not only is the IdeaCentre B500 a very good home theater PC with a TV inlet port, but with its motion-sensor games it integrates some of the best aspects of Nintendo Wii to be a very good console for casual gaming.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 sells for a price of Rs. 56,290 -- cheaper than the earlier IdeaCentre A600 we reviewed. For a lesser price the IdeaCentre B500 is better looking, gives better performance, and offers more features compared to the A600. It is great for home entertainment and multimedia usage. Sure it doesn't have touchscreen support (like the MSI Wind Top AE2220 and Dell Studio One 19 features in our Top 5 Lifestyle All-in-One Desktop PCs) and an HDMI port, but with its unique mix of a TV Tuner support and Nintendo Wii-like motion-sensing gaming (courtesy the Wonder Remote), the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 rises above the rest and is simply the best all-in-one desktop PC to buy right now.
Even if you can't afford the high-end IdeaCentre B500 model we reviewed, you can check out some of the lower-priced IdeaCentre B500 all-in-one desktop PC models based on the Intel Core 2 Duo and Pentium processors. If you're thinking of buying an all-in-one desktop PC any time soon, and don't want an Apple iMac, we think you should strongly consider the Lenovo IdeaCentre B500 all-in-one desktop PC. You won't be disappointed.