Review

Review: Lenovo M90z

The M90z represents Lenovo's commitment to the touch screen All in One (AIO) market, but faces tough competition as HP, Apple, and many other brands also are fighting in this territory. One wonders if Lenovo can compete considering its late arrival to the already saturated AIO market. Will this product stand up to daily punishment of the office, or will it flop over like a netbook trying to edit HD video?

The unit Lenovo shipped Neowin sports a 23 inch touch panel LCD screen, with a Core i5 650 CPU, 4GB of RAM, Intel GMA HD graphics, DVD burner, SD card reader, webcam, and multiple USB ports. On paper it appears to be a strong contender based on its hardware specs, minus the video card, and should keep the average user happy day to day.

The touch panel is not required for the device, it is an option, and it’s a great option at that. Unlike HP's TouchSmart line that uses the touch screen as the focal point for selling the device, Lenovo offers it like leather seats on a car. Sure it’s great to have, but you don't have to tick the box if you just want the AIO space saving design. Because of this, it is important to remember that this device is sold to be a workspace computer that can be adapted to a touch environment, not a device designed for touch that can also be used as a workstation.

The design is much more attractive than the A70z despite only a few minor tweaks. For starters the 23 inch screen better fits the overall look of the device. The M90z has a sizeable chin like the A70z but because of the larger screen size, the chin doesn't appear to be out of place. Sure the iMac may be more pleasing to the eye but the M90z isn't an ugly step sister by any means. One point of discontent is the clear rubber feat that sits along the metal bar at the bottom of the chassis. While they are clear now, the sticky nature of the feet could cause dust to stick to them and could possibly yellow over time.

Because this device was also designed to be used in the enterprise, the webcam has a slider in front of it to physically close the camera. This is an important feature if the location where the M90z being used at contains sensitive material. A red dot is located on the the slider to signal that it is shut, but there is nothing to stop the user from manually sliding it back to open. A locking mechanism would have been a nice feature to ensure users don't bypass company policies. 

The camera is par for the course when it comes to webcam. It works well for using Skype and the like, but it’s not a tier 1 webcam nor is it a basement bargain one either. You will be pleased with it for the average tasks but don't expect to record your kid’s first steps with it. Overall it fits what Lenovo intended the camera to be used for, and shouldn't hinder the user experience for business communications.

One feature that is impossible to ignore is that this AIO features tool-less entry. If you have ever tried to change a hard drive on an iMac or other AIO (even the A70z) you will know that it requires at least a screwdriver to access the internals of the device. With the M90Z, you can easily pop open the back and replace the hard drive and a few other components without any tools. This is huge if deployed in a workplace environment, as the general consensus is that AIOs are horrific to work on because of the amount labor involved to change the simplest components.

As stated previously, another key area with the M90z is that it offers a touchscreen option. While others in the market offer this too, Lenovo does not place it as the center of the reason to buy the M90z, but when added to the package, it works well in this form factor. The touch screen is accurate and does have multi-touch capabilities, but at this time it is limited to two points (or inputs) at one time. You can see a quick overview of the touchscreen while previewing some of Firefox's multi-touch features.  

Lenovo also included a simple overlay that allows the touch function to be used more effectively. The interface works but also feels very rudimentary. For example, to add a new program to the interface you have to navigate to the actual .exe file. If when searching, a list would populate of all the installed programs, it would make the use of the overlay much easier and more user friendly. Also, while the interface works, all it does is provide shortcuts back to programs which inevitably leads you to using Windows 7 natively.

As with any AIO, the speakers always suck, there is no other way to describe the audio experience on any AIO on the market. If you’re an audiophile, be sure to pick up a pair of external speakers; the internal ones get the job done but do not stand out among the crowd.

The M90z really does have a lot to offer, a strong foundation of hardware, and the ability to add a touch screen really adds to the overall quality of this product. While not the prettiest AIO on the market, it does provide for a solid daily use machine. It's a robust system that should stand the test of time in the office or home environment, and is worthy of being added to your list when shopping for a new AIO.

Finally, Lenovo has hooked Neowin readers up with a coupon code for a free Ultraslim Wireless Keyboard & Mouse by using coupon code: M90ZNEOWIN

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