It is already two years since I have Atomised my home. The mediacentre solution with an Intel Atom powered HTPC brought me quite a lot of joy mostly watching movies and listening to music. And internet surfing of course. A friend came to me these days for recommedation of a used lappy for home usage – mostly Internet and docs. As surprised I was, it did not take much to change her mind from a 4 year small screen laptop to a new computer. As I really use the small Eeebox, what I can say is that the recommendation came unforced and naturally. The budget was tight, very tight. As i knew, the nettop (Atom) solution would be just the PC needed – and surprisingly Lenovo was at the price bottom.
The Ideacentre Q180 is Lenovo`s idea for an eco (ecologic and economic) home model. With an 19″ LCD and Windows 7 the pricetag reads 330 Euro, which is a real bargain. As I did not have that much time to observe and test it, this will be just a very short pre(re)view
The dimensions and design are outstanding. As the version without DVD was chosen, we talk about a body which is smaller in volume than most paperback books. Limited to width by USB port it really does not block much space on the table. In case there is not even place for a book, it may be attached to the LCD (TV) in a supplied VESA holder. The piano black design is fancy, just what i missed by the Eeebox. I have used it on the stand, next to the LCD so all connectors are at hand. The front cover is a bit cheap, it holds card reader, two USB 3.0 and micro/head jack port. The back side is filled with he neccesarry rest, including HDMi, 4 USB portsand Kennsington lock. If rated, I would give maximum points if only not the silly front port cover
I have read somewhere, that the ussual power consumtion is below 30W, which is trully amazing. Less amazing compared to Eeebox is the noise level. As I understand the designers did not had that much space to use heatsinks, but the fan is already at teh level it starts to annoy. Especially if compared to Eebox or T420 from Lenovo. The CPU temperature was stable bellow 47 Celsius, the body was not warm after several usage (playing 1080p video)
As Lenovo is not a local garage company, the first start with Windows 7 Home Premium was easy for all expected users. If I may advice the Lenovo collegues, it would be wiser to update the image used, as the next minutes are killed by isntalling cca 70 patches (`250MB). GPU driver was updated at its last version (that`s scary), the only thing I have uninstalled was McAfee trial (i use Avira in all my PC`s), no other bloatware was installed. For that I give the boys and girls from Lenovo a thumb up. Installed Open office, VLC and the newest XBMC and that was it. Very simple. If not counted the time and cca 10 reboots because of Windows patches, it went very well
As i do not consider computer speed only by raw test data, my personal opinion is the computer runs fine. Considerably a SSD would be installed, we might loose some of the time observing ceiling when Chrome is starting. Adding the ADBLOCK will help, consider as well app handling Flash animations. It will gain on speed just over the treshold when you could think “that`s enough, I am throwing this pieace of %$#@ away”. The office performance is very decent, working with photos (16Mpix) in Picasa app is tolerable. Actually it is pretty fine. The data measured are listed bellow, it has beend compared with my home Eeebox and a Lenovo Thinkpad T420 laptop (which I use for work).
Visible is, that teh Atom architecture is literally crushed by the I5 used in the Thinkpad. But as the numbers look very bad, the daily use is not that different. Interesting was just a small power gain compared to the D525 used in Eebox. That means the Ideacentre`s D2550 running on 1,86 Ghz is better, but not that much. WEI and syntethic benchmarks show that there has not been much advancement since Eeebox. Honestly, I was expecting a bit more, on the other hand, the Ideacentre is much cheaper
The Eeebox came in equipped nicely including a remote. You can get a wireless keyboard with remote as well for Q180, but it will cost a buck or two. After years with XBMC (10, Dharma) I did not have a choice to try anything else. Jokes aside, XBMC is the very best you can choose for your HTPC. The last version Eden is fast, you may wanna wait a while for Frodo (january 2013 still not entirely prod). Playing 1080p movies with no problems, just edited the source and pushed play. Tried some moves with quite a bitrate (18MB/s) and the Ideacentre did not shake a bit. Youtube vids are playable as well, the bottleneck will be the network as ussual.
When I have described the Eeebox as SUV in computers, I will do the same here. There are always better choices for powerusers, but in case you use your PC as media centre for playing movies, music and internet surfing, I don`t think there is a better choice in this price range. Considering the decent 500GB storage, Windows 7 I would say it is a good investment. Especially for kids, because the ATOM architecture will prevent using it for big time gaming. My recomendattion was clear after a short (5 seconds) blackout. The LCD went shut itself down, but the computer kept running withour restart. That is amazing (although cannot really say how long it could drag power from the power adapter. A decent computer for decent money. With a design which will make your eyes happy and your worktable almost empty