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Lenovo IdeaCentre Q180 - Connectivity and Keyboard/Mouse Remote

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

Connectivity

Connectivity on the Lenovo IdeaCentre Q180 is excellent, with no obvious omissions. At the rear it provides a Gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI and VGA for video, four USB 2.0 ports (three if the optical drive plus bridge are attached), and an optical output for digital audio. At the front, a hinged flap hides an SDXC card slot, twin USB 3.0 ports, and headphone plus microphone jacks. The flap uses flexible plastic hinges, which though a little flimsy, in a neat touch automatically shut it again when there’s nothing holding it open.

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Wireless fans will be glad to hear that Wi-Fi N is built-in too, though Bluetooth isn’t part of the package. Still, this is easy to add through a USB dongle which shouldn’t set you back more than £5.

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Naturally a PC this small has an external power brick. Lenovo’s curvy model takes a standard C5 three-pin power cable and sports a classy blue-backlit logo. The IdeaCentre Q180 can also be mounted on the back of your TV or monitor using the supplied mounting bracket. This is a very sturdy metal affair with plenty of padding to protect the PC against scratches or marks, and it’s great to see it included by default.

Wireless Remote

Another inclusion that’s the very fancy icing on a fairly delicious cake is Lenovo’s unique wireless “keyboard and mouse” remote, which we’ll be giving a review of its own soon. It’s an ergonomically shaped all-in-one device that’s decidedly premium-feeling.

Lenovo IdeaCentre Q180 1

Build quality on the remote is excellent, with a soft-touch base and semi-glossy yet fingerprint-free top. The keyboard’s keys are by necessity tiny, but – much like most Blackberry phone keyboards – they’re nonetheless easy to type on since the convex keys are well-separated and have a positive click. The device’s shape and size ensure your thumbs are perfectly positioned to hit all of them without stretching. Best of all, this tiny keyboard is actually backlit!

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The ‘mouse’ part is actually a small optical sensor that’s again well-positioned to fall under your thumb, though you’ll need to change your grip from typing. It’s not as nice to use as a touchpad, but it’s certainly sufficient. The sensor itself is a button, though there are also dedicated left and right buttons just above it, disguised in the chrome bezel around the keyboard. For effortless scrolling, there’s a ribbed touch-sensitive strip just beneath the sensor, which is a great... well, touch.

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The remote uses RF to connect to the PC - or any other device with a USB port and a compatible driver - using its included micro dongle, which can be stored in the remote’s battery compartment when not in use. It also uses AA batteries, so they’re easy to replace with rechargeables.

Overall then, this is easily the best remote we’ve seen bundled with a nettop. It's not as cool or stylish as the LED-keyboard-cum-touchpad built into the Acer Aspire Revo 100, but it’s more practical and comfier in the hand.

laurent34a

April 26, 2012, 11:49 pm

I bought the Q180 to use as a Home Theater PC with XBMC and for online video streaming (mainly NFL Gamepass).

I have to say that I am still not sure I won't return it. Build quality and the size factor is great.

It's powerfull enough for SD and 720p videos but it is struggling with 1080p vids. I already spent a long time fiddling with the graphic settings and I am losing patience.

For me this is the biggest drawback. This is not a PlugnPlay device. This things needs to be properly set up to deliver the goods (my 5 year old WD TV produced much better video quality right out of the box).

Useful tip: if you connect it to your Samsung HDTV, make sure to use the HDMI dedicated to PC use and to rename the source as PC. This makes a big difference in video quality.

Conclusion: this is a machine I really want to fall in love with. Unfortunately, this requires a lot of work.

contradel

April 30, 2012, 12:22 am

Just don't see the potential in these atom powered slowbros. For 380 GBP you could buy a laptop with i3-2350M or the like with the Intel HD 3000, which will be alot faster and have no troubles with HD 1080 content.

E.g. the Lenovo B570e and just let it sit near the television, , hook it up to HDMI and you would have a (spare?) laptop.

You could probably get something even more powerful?

TechVegan

May 9, 2012, 3:49 pm

@laurent34a:
Thanks for your comment and feedback.

I haven't tested the Q180 with XBMC, but it certainly runs even demanding 1080p content fine using a media player that supports hardware acceleration. Both its Atom chip and Radeon graphics could manage this alone...

@contradel
As to HD content, see above.

But you do make a good point about laptops. However, the advantages to this specific Q180 is that you get USB3, a Blu-ray drive and that awesome remote, features you wouldn't find on a laptop at that price.

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