Lenovo IdeaCentre Q100 Is Impressively Small--and That's About It
At a Glance
Lenovo IdeaCentre Q100 Nettop PC
This supersmall device is a fully functioning PC, but only barely so. This machine's laundry list of omissions makes a netbook seem like a better option.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre Q100 is a nettop PC, a supersmall, supercheap box that essentially uses netbook components. It's a touch bigger than the typical external hard drive, and at $349 (as of February 1, 2010) with Windows 7 Home Premium, it costs just about as much, too. In fact, the Q100 is so small that it comes with a plastic stand to help it maintain a pretty, upright posture on a desk, nightstand, or bookshelf. But as you might expect, achieving such a minute size has forced Lenovo to make quite a few sacrifices on this system--so much so, that you may just be better off buying a netbook.
The Q100's 1.6GHz Atom N230 processor is a netbook favorite, and geared more for practical power consumption than punishing speeds. It helps the Q100 stay small and cool, but not much else. Competitors such as the $330 Acer AspireRevo R3610 nettop at least offer a dual-core Atom processor (plus nVidia Ion graphics), and the slightly bigger Dell Zino HD adds an optical drive. For $100 more, you could get the Ion-powered version of the Q100, the IdeaCentre Q110. It also includes a TV tuner and remote, as well as 2GB of RAM, but the processor is the same, and you still don't get HDMI output as you do on the cheaper Acer or Dell alternatives.
Naturally, the Q100's modest amount of RAM--just 1GB of DDR2-667 memory--makes conventional computing tasks feel a bit sluggish. The included 160GB hard drive isn't a lot of space, either, but it's standard for this type of system: The Acer Aspire Revo 3610 and the MSI Wind Nettop CS120 both have the same amount of storage.
With a WorldBench 6 score of 36, the Q100 tied the Acer, but fell slightly short of the MSI (42) and other similarly priced and configured PCs, such as the $300 eMachines EL1300G-01W (47). The big problem with the Q100 is not its performance, however--the missing features are the real issue.
To its credit, Lenovo does manage to insert a gigabit ethernet port alongside the four USB ports on the system's rear. With no optical drive on the machine, however, you're either in for a world of speedy network transferring, and virtual CD/ISO mounting of any and all CD-based games and applications you want to install, or you might as well factor the additional cost of an external optical drive into the Q100's price. And don't forget the cost of a mouse and a keyboard (neither is included).
You can't upgrade the Q100. And you can connect only a single VGA monitor--no HDMI, no living-room entertainment. You'll also find no other external options save for the system's six USB ports, of which two could be claimed by your mouse and keyboard.
At this point, you're almost better off with a netbook. The Q100 may be portable, but as a desktop machine, it won't allow you to do much unless you carry around a slew of external parts, too. A netbook at this price not only comes with a keyboard and trackpad, but also provides Wi-Fi (something the Q100 lacks). In short, on a netbook you'd be able to do everything you could do on the Q100--at roughly the same level of general performance.