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Lenovo IdeaCentre Q180: Atom's Wake

Author: Matt Smith
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Peripherals and Extras, Software

Peripherals and Extras

Normally a desktop comes with little more than the tower. That’s not the case here. Lenovo ships the Q180 with a cast and crew of additional hardware that compliments the tiny system.

Let’s start with the most mundane first - the keyboard and mouse. It’s not uncommon for systems to ship without either, but both are provided with the Q180. Both are simple, but while the mouse is perfectly function the keyboard is borderline unusable. Normal typing will occasionally cause a key cap to become stuck, requiring a few taps of the bottom of the keyboard to dislodge it. There’s nothing resembling key feel - only touchscreens offer less tactile feedback. 

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Our review unit also arrived with Lenovo’s “Enhanced Multimedia Remote.” This is a small handheld keyboard similar to the Logitech diNovo Mini Keyboard. It includes not only alphanumeric keys but also a trackpointer-like navigation nub, left/right mouse buttons and a touch-sensitive scroll area.

Using the remote required some practice, but after a half-hour it started to feel natural. The keyboard is arranged differently from a standard computer keyboard, which can cause some mistakes, but re-learning the tiny arrangement probably won’t cause your head to explode. 

ThinkPad owners will be disappointed to find the trackpointer on this remote is no where close to the precision of those available on Lenovo’s laptops, but it works well enough. The entire unit is light, which makes frequent use more inviting. 

But wait - there’s more! The Q180 ships with a small plastic stand for those with the irrational urge to sit their computer upright and a black metal bracket that can be used to attach the computer directly to the rear of a large monitor or HDTV with an unused VESA mount. This is an option that I think could be attractive for people who want an all-in-one but don’t want to be stuck with the included monitor. 

Software

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Lenovo’s Q180, like any other consumer desktop, comes with some pre-installed software. The most annoying is, of course, the anti-virus trial courtesy of McAfee. It loves to pop up at the most inconvenient times, such as when you’re attempting to watch a video. Uninstalling will take care of that, but until then you’ll have to endure it.

Otherwise, there’s not much to talk about. Google Chrome is included, which is nice - except for the pre-installed browser would not accept extensions from the Chrome Web Store (it acted as if the browser was not installed at all). 

The lack of bloatware is generally good news, because this is a system that needs every bit of power it can squeeze out. Background processes that would not trip up a Core i5 quad could be a problem here.

May 11, 2012 | 07:21 PM - Posted by deowll (not verified)

For what most people do computing power is hardly an issue except for the GPU. How did it do running streaming video, playing DVD/BlueRay and playing games?

Please be aware that there are a lot of free on line games that kids are happy to settle for.

Office and similar products actually run fine on the older single core machines so I'm not actually worried about them and yes this might meet the needs of many with Media Center at least for now even if MS is not interested in upgrading it. I have a feeling Win 7 is going to be supported for a while.

While I've seen no evidence of adoption of same for this purpose this looks to be to be a perfect secretary's computer. They take up no space and can be stuck in a drawer or something and forgotten except for the monitor, mouse, and keyboard. At worst they shouldn't take up more space than a small stack of paper backs.

May 13, 2012 | 07:17 AM - Posted by dragmor (not verified)

I can't see why you would choose this over the current nettop HTPC champ XS35GS V3. The shuttle isn't that much bigger and is completely passive.

I'm running the original XS35GT (ion2) version as my main desktop and TV interface. Its not fast, but it runs better than most would give it credit for. No fans and it survived 40c ambients last summer.

September 6, 2012 | 09:39 PM - Posted by almost_bought_one (not verified)

Dear Mr. Smith,

Just wanted to thank you for a very nicely done review. I sincerely appreciate your having done the work of setting up and filming the real world experiences with the video streaming services, as that was exactly what I was hoping to use this unit for.

Your work adds real value and goes well above the coverage provided by the hacks at the CNETs or PCMAGs of the world who mostly re-phrase the contents of the manufacturers' own press releases.

Thank you again for this.

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