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Trends Lenovo IdeaCentre Q150

High Technology Product Reviews | Trends and News | Trends Lenovo IdeaCentre Q150
We meet again with Lenovo product reviews. The Lenovo IdeaCentre Q150 ($399 direct) is a simply designed nettop, made to be placed on your desk or bolted behind an HDTV or large LCD monitor. It's one of the best Web video/photo/music media consumption devices out there, once you've hooked up to a big screen.

Design and Features
At 6.75 by 0.80 by 6 inches (HWD), the Q150 is even more compact than tiny PCs like the Apple Mac mini ($699 list, 4.5 stars) or eMachines Mini-e ER1402-05 ($299.99 list, 4 stars). It has no distinctive features, easily blending in with any decor. The Q150 looks like a black silicone trivet you'd keep in your kitchen to prevent hot pans from damaging your table. Because of its slim form, you could bolt it to the back of a large screen monitor or HDTV with the included VESA mounting bracket. Once bolted to the back of a big screen, the display effectively becomes a large all-in-one PC.

Specifications
Type
Multimedia, Digital Entertainment System, Nettop
Processor Family
Intel Atom
RAM
2 GB
Storage Capacity (as Tested)
500 GB
Graphics Card
nVidia ION
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium

The Q150 includes all the right ports for connectivity: There's an HDMI port for HDTVs and a VGA port for older monitors, 4 USB ports, and an Ethernet port. There isn't enough space for a DVI port, but HDMI is more prevalent on HDTVs. The system has a S/PDIF port for hooking it up to a surround sound system, and a headphone jack for people using the Q150 in studio apartments. Since it's so compact there's no internal expansion room. The model I looked at came with the max 2GB memory and 500GB hard drive. The 2GB of memory is plenty for day-to-day tasks, and you'd be hard pressed to fill up a 500GB hard drive unless you're a devoted downloader and collector. Wireless 802.11 b/g/n is standard, but a keyboard and mouse aren't. You can use Lenovo's Multimedia Remote with trackball and keyboard for $59.99, and I highly recommend it if you're a couch Web surfer. If you're deskbound, there are other options, like a wired keyboard and mouse from Lenovo for about the same money. I would have liked to see a wireless keyboard/pointing device as standard, but it's not a deal breaker. The system lacks an optical drive, but most nettop users will be streaming online videos more than viewing DVDs.

The Q150 comes with Lenovo's Rescue and Recovery software, which makes it easy to reset your system to factory specs. This added feature is useful in case your spouse or children accidentally install malware while trying to view that video file that requires "a special codec to be installed". The Nvidia ION GPU helps the Q150 display online HD videos smoothly. You could theoretically install an HDTV tuner or Blu-ray player via USB, but those are rapidly becoming yesterday's technology. There isn't any bloatware on the system, except the 60-day subscription to McAfee Virus Scan updates is a little short. I prefer 12 to 15 months for anti-virus subscriptions, especially considering that there are perfectly usable free anti-virus packages online.

Performance
The Q150 posted some of the slowest times of all on our new Handbrake video encoding test (12 minutes 31 seconds) and PhotoShop CS5 (23:38). If you want to actually transcode videos from 1080p to iPhone formats, or if you want to do serious photo editing on your PC, use a more powerful system, like the Apple Mac mini or HP Pavilion p6600 series of desktops. As expected, the Q150 couldn't run most of our 3D tests: The Nvidia ION processor is better suited to HD video than newer 3D games. One test did run: 3DMark Vantage at entry settings. The Q150 has almost twice the performance as the eMachines Mini-E ER1402 at basic 3D tasks: 3,550 points vs. 1,950 points for the ER1402-05. If you want a dual-purpose, compact system that creates as well as consumes media, look at systems like the Apple Mac mini. However, the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q150 is perfectly fine viewing photos, videos, and websites on your monitor or HDTV.

Compared with the previous nettop Editors' Choice, the eMachines Mini-e ER1402-05, the Lenovo Idea Centre Q150 is smaller, has a larger hard drive, less bloatware, and comes with the VESA bracket (you need to buy it separately for the eMachines). The eMachines ER1402-05is $100 less and comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse. Though the $100 difference is significant at this price point, when you add the larger hard drive, more capable 3D graphics, compact size, and lack of bloatware, the Lenovo Q150 edges out the eMachines Mini-e ER1402-05 as our Editors' Choice for standalone nettops.

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