The Lenovo IdeaCenter A310: The Desktop PC Gets A New Idea
It’s like an iMac G4, only better
In terms of looks, the Lenovo A310 is identical to that of its predecessor, the Lenovo A300. This is due to the fact that the A310 is simply an A300 with updated hardware.
However, we could not help but think of the A310 as a more modern, ’square-ish’ version of Apple’s old iMac G4 (which was released in 2002), and for good reason. After all, the similarities are just too great to brush aside as mere coincidence: the old iMac G4 have all the hardware built into the base of the unit, while the display is supported by a single arm which extends from the base. And both traits happen to be present in today’s A310.
That being said, there are many things about the A310 which sets it apart from the iMac G4. For one, the single asymmetric stand adds a certain sense of mystique and sophistication to the A310′s overall look. This is probably due to it being capable of supporting the A310′s heavy display without any effort at all, despite it being positioned in a manner which seems to defy all conventional knowledge about an object’s centre of gravity.
Furthermore, looking at the A310 from certain angles will sometimes produce an optical illusion where the screen appears to be floating, as though it were being levitated by magic.
However, that does not imply that the A310′s stand is perfect. One of the things we quickly found out when setting up the PC was that it offered a very limited range of movement. The A310′s stand’s design offers some room for tilting or swivelling the display around its hinge and pivot, but that is about all.
While we liked the chrome-plated trim which adorned the A310′s screen (it made the PC look a little sleeker and classy), the same could not be said for the very glossy display. More often than not, we felt as though we were looking into a mirror, as we could sometimes see our reflection even after the screen’s brightness has been turned up to the maximum.
I/O and Expansion Ports
As desktops PCs usually do not suffer from the same space constraints found in notebooks, the Lenovo A310 is able to offer users a wider variety of I/O and expansion ports, as shown in the images below.
The A310′s rear houses the majority of the I/O and expansion ports found on the device. There is a TV-out jack located here, although the availability of this jack is subject to the customer’s build configurations. Also present here are the DC-in socket, an Ethernet port, two HDMI ports which support both input and output, as well as two standard USB 2.0 ports.
That being said, we were not impressed with the layout of the ports located here, although most of our discontent is centred around the placement of the DC-in socket. Being sandwiched between both the TV-out jack and the Ethernet port means that there is a very high chance of the power jack being accidently yanked out in the process of connecting a cable to the aforementioned ports.
We also had an issue with the power cable occasionally obstructing access to the HDMI and USB ports, although this is mostly dependent on the location of the electrical socket which the A310 is connected to.
The A310′s left side houses a smaller variety of I/O and expansion ports. The 8-in-one card reader is located here, along with the obligatory 3.5mm jacks for a microphone and earphones, along with two additional USB 2.0 ports.
The A310 sports a simple but shiny chrome-covered base, which also serves to further enhance its sleek image. However, we were not able to say the same thing about Lenovo’s choice of using orange-coloured speaker grills and support pads alongside the chrome-plated base.
Still, if it is of any consolation, the fact that those grills and pads are located at the base means that you do not have to look at it any longer than the time it takes to flip the A310 over and prop up its screen. Which, for the most part, is mercifully short, amounting to nothing more than mere minutes.
The Lenovo A310 was not designed to be user-upgradable or serviceable by the average Joe, a message which it conveys remarkably well by simply looking at its design. However, as a service for those who are curious to know about the hardware used in the A310, we have taken a screwdriver to our review unit to bring you these images of the A310′s innards.
Simply put, gaining access to the A310′s hardware requires that the display be removed and the top cover of the base pried open, as shown below:
Removing the motherboard cover reveals what we had already suspected right from the beginning: that the A310 uses notebook components to achieve its slim and compact design.
The hard disk bay is located directly below the A310′s stand and can be extracted by simply pushing it downwards and lifting it out.
Our review unit came with a 500GB Seagate Momentus hard disk with a rotational speed of 5400rpm. This is a standard-performance hard disk found in most notebooks and mobile computing devices which makes use of 2.5-inch hard disks.
Backing the A310 are 4GB of DDR3 ram in the form of two ram sticks, each with a 2GB capacity. Our review unit came with first-party PC-10600 sticks from Hynix, each with a data transfer rate of 1333 MT/s.
WiFi connectivity is provided by a half-height, mini-PCIe Broadcom BCM943225HM wireless card, as shown below. The yellow, coin-sized object sitting on top of the 8-in-1 card reader is the A310′s CMOS battery.
Last but not least, the Intel Core i3-370M processor used in the A310 is connected to the motherboard via a socket instead of being soldered directly onto the PCB. In theory, this allows for processor upgrades on the A310.
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