Hey folks, Valkor. And I've been spending some quality time in the Val-cave toying with my tech that I've pushed to the side in favor of redesigning the site. I've got a few gadgets in house that I'll be sharing with you soon enough, but first out of the gate is Lenovo's tiny gizmo – the IdeaCentre Q180 HTPC. This is Lenovo's second outing here at TOV, with Digispa ripping into the IdeaCentre B520 All-in-One, scoring it with 4.5 stars. Can the little guy score just as big? We'll soon find out.
The Q180 is being touted as one of the smallest, slimmest PCs around. It's definitely one of the smallest that has seen its way into the Val-Cave. However the unit I was given had the optical drive attached, giving it added girth and weight. Keep in mind the drive is optional. But even with the drive connected it's still pretty damn impressive to look at. As we tour the Q180, starting externally, the outside has a nice glossy finish (beware fingerprints) and from the front of the device you have the disc drive which supports blu-ray and DVD. Below the drive is a hatch that reveals an 8-in-1 card reader, two USB 3.0 ports and headphone/mic ports. At the rear of the device you have 4 USB 2.0 ports, another USB port (for external devices), power port, HDMI out, VGA out, S/PDIF out, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Rounding out the externals you have the power and eject buttons located on the left side of the unit. The Q180 can essentially be placed anywhere around your entertainment unit and should you leave it out in the open, you can stand it either horizontal or vertical (though I prefer tucking it away behind my television).
The innards can vary depending on the options you choose when you purchase the device. As for the one I received, the Q180 came installed with Windows 7 Home premium 64 bit edition, running off of an Intel Atom D2700 processor running at 2.133 GHz. The system came packed with a 500 GB hard drive and 4 GB of DDR3 RAM. Video card is an AMD Radeon HD 6450A with 512 MB of memory and an audio system that can support up to 7.1 Dolby Surround sound. Finally the Q180 has integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi so not only does it make a great addition to any entertainment center, but because of its size you could take it along on your travels.
To round out the features, the Q180 comes include with a VESA mount so that the device can be attached to any monitor, saving up even more space on your desktop. And as an optional accessory you have the Lenovo N5902 Multimedia Remote with backlit keyboard.
I was going to benchmark the Q180 however since most of the internal parts are optional, your experience will more than likely differ than mine. So let's dive right in with the TOV Breakdown!
The way we watch television today has evolved in that we're no longer locked into the network's time schedule. Now with offerings such as Hulu, Netflix, and even the networks having most of their content online, you can always stay up to date on all of your favorite shows! And thanks to Lenovo, their shepherding in a new era with the Q180. The Q180 fits perfectly with any home entertainment center offering up a clutter-free zone; place it almost anywhere amongst your other entertainment units and you'll be hard pressed to find it – it's that discreet (even more so when you take away the drive). Watching my digital media, listening to some tracks, or catching up on my favorite shows is a cinch with smooth playback on all fronts. I didn't see any issues when watching shows on Hulu, save for some compression artifacts showing up. But I chalked that up to not having a Plus account and not watching anything in HD (but it's something that I'm seriously considering). Although by comparison I thought the Acer Revo looked much sharper. But for what it's worth, you're gonna get some quality viewing outta this machine. Going back to comparing it to the Revo, I love, love, LOVE the N5902 compared to the Revo's touch pad. Maneuvering around the desktop is a snap and the QWERTY pad with its raised buttons just feels right. Finally I took the Q180 for a gaming spin and while hardcore gamers will definitely look elsewhere, light to mid level gamers will appreciate the efficiency of the Q180.
Going back to the gaming and if you're planning on using the Q180 for it, then you'll need to invest in a keyboard and mouse, preferably wireless as the remote simply won't cut it. And believe me I tried.
Overall I have to say I've enjoyed my time with the Q180 and it has fared quite well in Val-Cave testing. It's small yet powerful, sleek and discreet and will make a great addition in any home entertainment center without adding any extra clutter. Get the optional remote, but definitely pick up a mouse and keyboard for added productivity use. So out of TOV 5 stars, I'm locking the IdeaCentre Q180 HTPC at 4.5. And it's been Valkor tested and TOV Approved!