Lenovo’s C440 All-in-One PC Proves That PCs ‘Ain’t What They Used to Be’
We use a “clean” and standardized PC for all of our performance testing–“standardized” meaning that all that is installed is the most appropriate operating system (e.g.: we skipped over Vista) and the latest versions of Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat Reader. After we finish testing a product, the test PC is returned to its clean state in order to make it ready for the next test.
Since we have a database of performance criteria that includes printer productivity testing, time to install, etc. we are loathe to change our test PC, as the comparative baseline will be disrupted from that point forward. So, we keep it running for as long as it is realistically possible. After all, it doesn’t get used all that much and a clean PC is a fast PC.
We ran into some unexpected and unusual anomalies in several recent tests that were PC related, so we forced to reckon with an upgrade of our test PC, and since buying PCs has always been a chore, we were not looking forward to the process. For background purposes, from the days of the very first IBM PC onward, I have spent multiple thousands of dollars on a single PC, built PCs from scratch and rescued and/or repaired numerous other PCs, but it has been a while since I have purchased a brand new one.
The PC we were replacing was 32-bit Pentium-class running Windows 7 with maxed out RAM, a mid-range nVIDIA graphics card, a 7,200 rpm HD, and a dual monitor setup using old LCD monitors. Since we aren’t going to use the new test PC for rendering videos or playing hi-res 3D games, we didn’t need a powerhouse or specialty PC, we simply needed one that could efficiently run Windows 8+ and Microsoft Office, much like any business or household requires. It also had to be able to handle future operating systems and software upgrades, so it needed a competent graphics system and sufficient memory and disk space to ensure its longevity. Finally, the latest and greatest CPU is not as critical as it is with a notebook PC because cooling and battery life is not an issue with desktop PCs. Quite simply, all we required from the CPU was that it could efficiently power the latest operating system (Windows 8.1) and Microsoft Office 2013.
We began our online search via our favorite suppliers by lowest price versus required performance while using a favored vendor as the tie breaker. If you haven’t bought a PC in a while, you should know that a capable desktop PC from the top vendors start at about $500 without monitor but we had several older unused 19″ LCD monitors that were lying around that could be pressed into service. You can also get a variety of refurbished PCs for well under $500. but that didn’t seem like the right thing to do for our application.
The shopping experience was uninspiring and tortuous–which PC to buy from the dozens of models from our perceived top vendors (Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Acer, and ASUS)? Since we began our search based on price, the Lenovo C440 All-in-One (non touch-screen version) stood out because it was on sale at Staples for the super low price of only $429.90, while it was available for $599.99 with free two-day shipping on Amazon, where it garnered five 5-star reviews. Even though we didn’t need a monitor, the C440 All-in-One PC from Staples was a deal that we couldn’t pass up. We quickly found out that it was out of stock online and at our local Staples branch, but there was one available at a store about 10 miles away. After a quick trip to the unfamiliar Staples, we walked away with a new Lenovo C440 in hand for the grand total of $449.99 including tax.
Lenovo’s Description for the C440
Affordable, Space-saving, 21.5″ All-in-One:
Sleek, responsive, and space-saving, the 21.5″ C440 all-in-one puts an attractive new face on affordable home computing. Choose a model with optional touchscreen technology for cutting-edge interaction with your PC.
Our Description of the C440
Even though Lenovo makes it sound like the C440 is the perfect companion PC for Mom and Dad, it’s no slouch in the specification department (refer to the specs below). It is also a beautiful piece of work (like the L12721s W monitor that we recently reviewed) and it comes from Lenovo, which is the number 2 PC vendor in the world and not by accident. Moreover, even though it is an All-in-Once PC, nearly every component can be accessed and replaced by removing the rear covers. Plus, Lenovo provides a comprehensive manual that shows you how to do so. Read on…
Unboxing and Setup
The experience was a pleasant one and much faster than with any desktop PC. It was fun admiring the C440’s good looks coming out of the box. All it took afterwards was removal of the plastic protective sheets, attachment of the attractive brushed aluminum stand, and plugging in the AC power cord and Lenovo Black Silk keyboard and mouse. It fired up within seconds and we had to go through a few screens of Lenovo registration and Microsoft login. There were only three wires to attach in total (we connected using WiFi networking, or there would’ve been four cables) and it was by far the easiest PC installation that I have ever experienced.
Bright and crisp display with no frozen or dead pixels. Snappy and smooth performance, and the top-facing Dolby-enhanced speakers sound better than any built-in speakers that I have ever heard. I mean that you’re not going to DJ your next rave with them, but they are sufficient for watching videos, casual music listening or game playing. The Black Silk “island-style” keyboard felt nice under hand, but the left-hand “fn” key (the outermost key) and “ctrl” key (should be the outermost key) are swapped and take some getting used to. The keyboard also features a number of special function keys for audio level, brightness, media track controls, Lenovo utilities, etc.
The two-button scroll mouse also felt fine in hand. “Only two-buttons?” you ask. Yes, but keep in mind that the advanced control scheme built into Windows 8+ pretty much renders the forward and back mouse buttons obsolete. There are also plenty of ports on the rear of the unit and there are additional ports and a 6-in-1 card reader situated on the left edge of the screen, while the optical DVD/RW drive resides on the upper right edge. Plus, there’s even a webcam that is built into the top monitor bezel.
There’s a slew of Lenovo software and applications and most of them are useful. Thankfully, there’s very little (if any) software or apps that run upon startup and slow down your system. Consequently, the worst thing that happens if you decide not to uninstall them is that they take up disk and clutter your Start Screen. At the very least you should un-pin any unnecessary apps from your Start Screen in order to keep it simple. Don’t worry, if you un-pin them from your Start Screen, you can still access and run them from the “All apps” screen.
As with any PC, you will be better served if you just get rid of (uninstall) what you won’t use. With the C440, it will take an hour or so to sift through the software, get rid of anything useless and pin and organize whatever is left on your Start Screen. I recommend that right off the bat, you get rid of any antivirus/malware “free trial” software as a capable version is built-into Windows that will not nag you or muck up your system. Plus, if you are worried about uninstalling any of the Metro UI apps, you can easily reinstall them from within the Windows Store. As far as the desktop (“old school” Windows) apps are concerned, once you uninstall them they’re pretty much gone forever. However, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to decide what is necessary and what is not.
The Bottom Line
What is a home PC? What is a business PC? All I know is that if you gave one of these Lenovo C440 All-in-One PCs (or any of its more expensive siblings) to your child, spouse, parent or employee, they would be tickled pink–unless they are Mac lovers, Windows 8 haters, or hard-core gamers. Plus, the C440 is the entry-level Lenovo All-in-One PC and it can only get better from here. As far as its use in the enterprise, as far as I know it does not have the ThinkVantage management capabilities of Lenovo’s Think-branded PCs and IT staff may look down on it as result.
It is impossible to find a standalone desktop PC of comparable quality and combine it with a quality 21.5″ monitor, webcam and speakers for what we paid for this excellent product. Plus, there are only three cables and any other traditional desktop/monitor/speaker/webcam combination will result in the fabled “bird’s nest” of wires. Finally, considering what we paid for the Lenovo C440 ($449.99 including tax), it is akin to getting a 21.5″ monitor, speakers and webcam for free.
Lenovo C440 Specifications
- All-In-One PC
- Windows 8 64-Bit
- Memory Type – DDR3
- Total Memory Size – 4GB
- Wired Lenovo Black Silk Keyboard
- Wired Lenovo 2-Button Wheel Mouse
- Display Type
- Widescreen HD LED
- Screen Size – 21.5″
- Maximum Resolution – 1920 x 1080
- Touch Screen – No
- HDMI Out
- RJ45 Ethernet LAN Port
- USB Ports – 6 x USB 2.0
- Audio Out Jacks
- Microphone Jack
- Processor Brand – Intel
- Processor Class – Pentium
- Processor Number – G2030
- Processor Speed – 3.00GHz
Hard Disk Drive Specifications
- Hard Drives Included – 1
- Capacity – 1TB
- Hard Drive Type – Hard Disk Drive
Optical Drive Specifications
- Optical Drive Class – DVD±RW
- 6-in-1 Media Card Reader
- Integrated Audio
- High Definition Audio
- Integrated Graphics
- Intel HD Graphics
WiFi & Wireless Specifications
- WiFi Standards Supported
- IEEE 802.11b/g/n
Network Adapter Specifications
- Integrated LAN Chipset
- 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet
- Interface Type – RJ-45
- Webcam Resolution – 0.3 MP
- Built-in Microphone – Yes
- Built-in Speaker
- 2 x 3 Watt stereo
- Lenovo’s L12721s W, the Ideal Monitor that I Always Wanted but Couldn’t Afford — Until Now
- Windows 8 Gets a Raw Deal and Lenovo (and Others) by Extension