Lenovo Crafts Horizon 2 PC for Tabletop Collaboration

REVIEW: Lenovo creates a tabletop PC that's designed to foster collaboration by allowing several people to use it at the same time.

You know what it's like when you're trying to work with someone else at a monitor. It gets crowded with just one other person. With two or three more people, it becomes impossible. But suppose the monitor was built into the tabletop, and everyone can sit around it and offer input.

The idea of group interaction is what's behind the Lenovo Horizon 2. This is an all-in-one computer designed so that it can lay flat on a tabletop so users can orient the screen as needed. Lenovo originally designed the Horizon as a gaming or social center, but the company says it's getting strong interest in the enterprise for use as a collaborative device.

Think of the Horizon as a 27-inch Windows 8.1 tablet, and you'll have a good idea of what to expect from this device. Despite its size it's less than an inch thick and it only weighs about 17 pounds, so it's easy to move it from one location to another. Even better, Lenovo delivered the Horizon in a cloth satchel that makes transport easier than it might be otherwise.

While it's unlikely that you'd ever want to use the Horizon 2 in your lap, it's certainly possible, assuming you have a big lap. The Horizon comes with built-in batteries that will last a couple of hours, and it supports 802.11ac WiFi. There are three USB 3.0 ports on the left side of the computer, but if you use the included wireless keyboard and mouse, then one of those ports is taken up by the required dongle.

There's a spring-loaded kickstand on the back of the Horizon that will allow you to adjust the angle of the screen. If you press it down until it's flat on the desk, the Horizon launches an interface named Aura that's supposed to facilitate use as a tabletop computer.

The only real difficulty we had with the Horizon was with the latch that holds the kickstand in place, which tried its best to defy any attempt to use it. Fortunately, a couple of well-chosen hand tools solved that problem, but they had to be employed every time we tried to use the computer in anything but a flat position.

When placed into its tabletop orientation, the Horizon launches the Aura interface, which is intended to make it easy to use the computer when people are seated and includes a wheel-like touch area that does everything from launch apps to play music. While Aura launches automatically when the computer is placed so it's flat on a tabletop, you don't have to use it. You can return to the Windows Desktop or Start screen easily.

And it's likely you will need to return to the standard Windows environment during a work session. While you can connect Aura to a smartphone, it only works with Android devices.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...