NEW YORK — Its your standard all-in-one consumer-oriented desktop computer: the guts of the system are concealed behind a 27-inch touch-screen. Microsofts tile-based Windows 8 operating system inhabits that screen.
Except it is anything but standard. Lay it flat, and something funny happens. Windows 8 disappears, and a new touch overlay called Aura takes over.
You have entered Lenovos world of tabletop computing, a social environment for playing games, sharing photos and listening to music. Im testing the companys new IdeaCentre Horizon, a dual-purpose system that was one of the coolest things I saw at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
I was pumped to try it then, and now that its finally becoming available to consumers, I was equally eager to try it at home. While Im not ready to predict that table computing will catch on in a major way, Lenovos machine promises to keep you engaged and (literally) in touch with friends and family.
As a table PC, it is fun: Two or more people can simultaneously interact, competing in virtual air hockey, Monopoly or trying their luck spinning a roulette wheel. The Lenovo supports what the industry refers to as 10-point multitouch, so a bunch of you can get your paws on it at once.
But it is also an all-in-one that functions like any other Windows 8 desktop PC.
Whatever you think of Microsofts latest operating system — enough people have complained loudly that the company is already preparing an update, code-named Windows Blue — there have been some innovative, if not always compelling, hardware designs meant to take advantage of Windows 8s flexibility. Weve seen laptop designs that fold or twist or have components that can be detached altogether to transform into a keyboard-less touch-screen tablet.
A different transformation takes place on the IdeaCentre Horizon. Its not a laptop and wont ever be a tablet. Youre not removing parts or twisting or folding anything, youre merely changing the way that you position the computer. In desktop mode, it can be propped up at various angles via a stand on the back. Lay it horizontally, and Windows 8 retreats in the background while Aura commands center stage. (You do still have the option to run Windows 8 while the machine is flat or run Aura when the computer is propped up.)
Thats when you and your friends are encouraged to gather round this touch-friendly interface, essentially, a rotating circular widget with icons for games, education, music, video, photos, apps and a Lenovo App Store. As part of Aura, you can be watching a video in one corner of the display at the same time that your pal is admiring pictures in another area. Theres ample room on the screen for a bunch of things to be happening at once.
When you tap an icon to select photos, say, all the pictures spill out into a filmstrip. You can tap or drag a picture onto the surface using familiar pinch and zoom gestures to manipulate the images. You can rotate pictures or have them almost fill the screen. When youre done, you can cast them off to the edge of the screen using a five-finger push gesture. You can repeat the gesture to make them disappear altogether.
Aura is at its best in game-play mode, though it wasnt always obvious how to shut down certain programs or silence annoying music.
Another frustration: I pressed an auto rotate button on the bezel so that some full-screen applications were upside down from my perspective. But pressing the auto rotate button a second time didnt reorient the display. I could only make things right side up again by opening the Windows 8 desktop, then pressing the auto rotate button.
Still, I had a good time playing air hockey against my daughter, with each of us using a physical striker to shoot a virtual puck. The striker is one of the real physical pieces that you can use in some games, activities that Lenovo refers to as phygital. For example, I used rechargeable e-dice, when playing Monopoly. The e-dice communicates with a dongle connected to a USB. You can also use a joystick accessory with certain games.
Among other apps preloaded on my system is DrawRace 2 from Ubisoft, and Texas Hold Em. You can also fetch Android apps from the BlueStacks app player. My daughter was partial to a Lenovo Fishing Joy game.
Lenovos machine conjures up memories of the original Microsoft Surface, not the tablet computer that Microsoft now sells, but rather a 30-inch, interactive tabletop computer pushed by Bill Gates that recognized and responded to objects and human touch. Now rebranded Microsoft PixelSense, you can still spot such machines in stores, hotels and other commercial establishments, but they never quite made it to your den or living room.
Where exactly in your house Lenovos IdeaCentre might reside remains anyones guess. In standard computer mode, it might belong in the home office. But that may not be the ideal location when you want to play and go social.
At nearly 18 pounds, the machine is light enough to lug to another room. It even has a lithium-polymer battery thats useful if connecting to a power outlet is an obstacle. But youre looking at only two hours of juice, at best.
My test $1,849 configuration (which ships in a couple of weeks but can be ordered online now at lenovo.com) has an Intel Core i7 processor, GeForce video graphics, webcam, 8 gigabytes of memory and a 1-terabyte hard drive with a (1920 x 1080) high-definition screen. On board are two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI connector, a memory card slot, and pretty good-sounding stereo speakers backed by Dolby Home Theater sound. Similarly configured versions will drop to $1,599 when it hits retail, with a Core i5 model fetching $1,499.
Lenovo will also sell an adjustable multimode table on wheels as an accessory this summer to accommodate the Horizon system. Its expected to cost about $149.
Bill Gates had a grand vision for table computing when he was still a full-time Microsoft executive. Lenovo has latched onto the idea with IdeaCentre and made an all-in-one PC all the more appealing.
Email: email@example.com; Follow @edbaig on Twitter.
The bottom line
Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon table PC
$1,849 (for test configuration)
Pro. Can be transformed from all-in-one PC to more social table computer thats good for games, pictures and more.
Con. Not always intuitive to use.
The American Idolresults are in!
On the heels of the news that Randy Jacksonwill be leaving after 12 seasons of sitting in judgment of hundreds of aspiring pop stars (news that Ryan Seacrest couldnt help but acknowledge), another talented young lady was sent home tonightjustshy of next weeks finale.
Of course, a little later on, well be revealing whois leaving our show, Ryan said, turning Randys chair slightly and giving him a pointed look. The veteran judge played coy, shaking his head and laughing as if he didnt know whatRyan could possibly be referring to.
NEWS: Four new Idoljudges wanted for next year
Maybe a heads-up? Ryan cracked before moving on to the first order of business of the night: Candice Glover, Kree Harrison and Angie Miller joining forces on Selena Gomezs Who Says.
But the piegrave;ce de resistance was, of course, the elimination.
And it is Angie who will not be competing for the Idolcrown. She couldnt help but choke up as her most memorable moments on the show flashed by in a montageand then, tears flowing, she was barely able to power through a cover of Colton Dixons Never Gone, one of her biggest hits from earlier in the season.
So, its Candice and Kree for all the marbles next week! Best of luck, ladies!
Do you think the right pair made the finale? Sound off in the comments!
PHOTOS: All-time greatest Idol hits
SANTA CRUZ — Two brothers who died in a canoe accident at Lexington Reservoir on Sunday were remembered by their friends and family as a fun-loving pair who both worked for Apple.
Nicholas Xavier Nell, a 35-year-old from Scotts Valley, and Raymond Jacob Nell, a 30-year-old from Aptos, drowned after their canoe flipped in windy conditions, according to the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroners Office.
Nick, as his friends called him, was married to Renee Goodrich for 11 years and worked as an iTunes corrections manager.
Ray was a mentor at an Apple retail store in Monterey. He graduated from San Lorenzo Valley High School and CSU Monterey Bay with a degree in education.
They loved challenging themselves and each other with physical sports and elaborate word games and puns, the Nell family said in a statement Wednesday.
They loved helping their friends and assisting people in need with no thought for recognition. They teased each other endlessly, and they stood together when any of their siblings needed support.
They are survived by their brother Ben Nell, sister Meggie Nell and parents Fernando Nell, of Scotts Valley and Diane Nell, of Felton.
Authorities have not said what caused the canoe to flip. The brothers 16-year-old and 25-year-old cousins, who also were in the boat, swam to shore and survived.
No one was wearing a life jacket, which are required to be worn or readily accessible,
San Franciscos Exploratorium, one of the nations most successful science and technology centers, has just opened its brand new location. Spencer Michels reports on how the centers hands-on teaching approach peaks the imaginations of children and adults alike.
NEW YORK —
Theres been plenty of chatter on Broadway these days about how the revival of the musical Pippin has brilliantly combined circus elements. At New York City Center, its nice to be reminded that such mashups arent all that new.
Seventy-seven years ago, the Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart musical On Your Toes broke new ground by adding huge dollops of ballet performed by classically trained dancers. No less a figure than George Balanchine was coaxed to choreograph – and he insisted that his credit should reflect that in the Broadway program, the first time choreography by would appear.
The show, with a slapdash book by Rodgers, Hart and George Abbott, opened in 1936 and was revived twice more, as well as being turned into a botched film. It now has been thrillingly revisited in the final Encores! concert series presentation of the season, opening Wednesday and running until Sunday.
Starring the always funny Christine Baranski and a great, steady Walter Bobbie, a director getting back to his acting roots, the show is terrifically performed by both Broadway hoofers and hard-core ballet pros, though the seams between the two worlds can sometimes be seen.
It is wittily and ingeniously directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, who has lovely touches throughout, as when someone falling in love sings about the ceiling spinning and is actually spinning in a chair.
The story is thin: A former vaudeville star who now teaches music (a fine Shonn Wiley) is falling for a student (Kelli Barrett, utterly winsome) when a classical Russian ballet troupe comes to town. The teacher soon falls for the troupes narcissistic prima ballerina (Irina Dvorovenko, an American Ballet Theatre principal gamely making her musical theater debut). Her jealous boyfriend then tries to have him killed, leading to hijinks. (Dont think too hard about it).
The musical introduced two lovely songs – Glad to be Unhappy and Theres a Small Hotel – and each act ends with two extended dance numbers – La Princesse Zenobia comic ballet and the famous Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, in which our hero must dance or die. (Balanchines original choreography for Slaughter has been staged by Susan Pilarre, who served as a ballet mistress of the shows 1983 Broadway revival.)
As good as those ballets are, the highlight is when the musical theater dancers and the muscular ballet dancers face off in the title tune. As each group ratchets up the tricks – the tapping hoofers smack boards for percussive effect, while the ballerinas do their steps while being held upside down – one of the most thrilling dance numbers of the season is unveiled.
Though the musical continues – it ends with a crazed, forced collision of elements, almost as if the book writers just gave up – the visual of swanlike ballet dancers in white tutus and the musical theater veterans in colorful costumes each battling for the audiences respect lingers. Everyone wins.
The Akron FFA chapter has been very busy the last couple of months and has a lot still to come. In the month of December, Leigha Filla and Holden Ramey competed in the Prepared Public Speaking contest; where they received silver medals. AJ Miller and Brandon Schenk competed in the District Creed Speaking; where they placed with a bronze. The chapter held a member Christmas party; where the members enjoyed great food and games. On Thursday, December 13th the office team had the opportunity to help the Akron Lions Club serve their annual holiday meal to the senior citizens of the Akron community.
Our FFA program gives the FFA members the opportunity to attend the National Western Stock Show in January. This year for the freshman and sophomores to be able to attend the Stock Show they had to sell fruit. Twenty-six from the freshman and sophomore class met the criteria and attended, twenty-four from the junior and senior class attended as well. We would like to thank Don and Jeannie Lambertson, for serving as our driver and sponsors. Everyone had a great learning experience at the National Western Stock Show and we appreciate the opportunity to be able to attend annually.
With the month of February being a short month, our FFA chapter is extremely busy. Every vocational club gets one week in February to celebrate and get members involved. Our chapter is holding their FFA week Monday, February 25th through Friday, March 1st. We have several exciting activities planned throughout the week. Monday we are having 8th grade recruitment, where the officer team talks to upcoming freshman class about what our FFA chapter has to offer. On Tuesday the chapter will be providing an appreciation lunch for all the teachers/staff and all the FFA members; to thank everyone for supporting us through the year. During this lunch we are having local Ag Business men/women talk about career opportunities and work place skills in rural communities. On Wednesday all the FFA members will attend school in official dress and take a group picture. The sophomores will give a presentation to the elementary children about food for America. Friday is when the fun really starts with the FFA members wearing their FFA t-shirts. Toward the end of the day there will be Farm Hand Olympics for the FFA members. Throughout the week there will be money jars in the school with three teachers and three senior faces on them to see who raises the most money to see who kisses a baby pig; all donations go to the Blue Jacket Society that will put an Akron FFA Jacket into The Center for Agricultural Education and the future home of the Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame to be built at Colorado State University.
During the month of March the Akron FFA will be getting ready for District Career Development Events and the AG I Quiz Bowl competition as well as preparing for the Annual Hired Hand Sale and SAE Fair. We hope to see a lot of the community members and FFA supporters Thursday, March 28th at the Washington County Event Center to attend the sale and our annual grand Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry!
Wesleyan University, the private liberal arts college that gave birth to MGMT, Wells Tower, and the guy who ownsPolitico, might want to think twice about celebrating the schools Senior Cocktails party at a science museum. According to the Wesleyan gossip blog Wesleying and a local TV news station, a bunch of Wesleyan seniors were kicked out of the Connecticut Science Center this past weekend after some of them were caught having sex and consuming drugs in a bathroom, vomiting over a stairwell railing, and mounting a (possibly animatronic) dinosaur. Soon Wesleying reproduced several portions of the incident report written up by the museums staff:
1. Wesleyan student removed from the 6th floor for riding the dinosaur.
2. Wesleyan student fell down the up escalator. And continued falling as if in a perpetual motion machine.
Today the TV station WTNH confirmed those reports after speaking to several Wesleyan students with knowledge of thebacchanal, one of whom told the station, It was kind of a questionable plan to bring a bunch of people to a science museum where there is definitely drinking going on. Yes. Yes it was. As for the dinosaur from which a student was apparently retrieved, heres a video of the actual exhibit:
Then again, perhaps this was to be expected. Remember Time to Pretend?This is our decision, to live fast and die young.Weve got the vision, now lets have some fun.
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
jtrotter at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.
Nearly three hours after several hundred runners embarked around Henry Hagg Lake, Forest Grove native Russell Gober lumbered across the finish line.
He looked different than most of the 142 runners who finished before him in the 13th annual Hagg Lake Mud Run.
Unlike the others, the 46-year-old crossed the finish line with hardly a speck of mud across his white shirt and navy-blue shorts.
Mud run? Not so much for Gober.
Because Im a local … Ive run laps around the lake every weekend for the last two months, said Gober, who worked at a mill near the lake for 25 years before enrolling at Portland Community College as a machine manufacturing student. I know all the ins and the outs of this course and where to avoid the mud.
Sundays 25K marked the ninth time Gober has participated in the mud run. The first time he ran the race, he found out about it only days before. He hadnt trained, he signed up on race day, and ran the 50K because he figured I might as well. After five years of running the 50K and struggling to walk the following week, Gober said he finally wised up and transitioned to the Sunday 25K, a roughly 15.5-mile race.
The mud run provides a much different experience for Gober than his normal runs around the lake. Gober begins training for the race in November, usually beginning with six-mile runs. As the months go by, he ups the distance to eight miles, then 11. Eventually he starts running laps around the course, which begins in a parking lot on the west end of the lake and weaves through trails, trees, fields, bogs and across a dam. During his training runs, Gober said hes more likely to encounter a deer or coyote than another runner.
I run so many weekends and I dont see anyone out here, he said. Its fun to run with this many people.
From all accounts, those runners had great conditions for the weekend races. Saturday, on a relatively dry course, Jacob Puzey of Hermiston set a new course record in the 50K with 3:24:23, breaking Max Kings 2010 record of 3:26:54.
As runners arrived on Sunday, the sun was shining and the lake glistened, but a rain shower the night before meant some slippery conditions.
West Linns Dave Harkin won the 25K in 1:41:32, well ahead of Chad Killians winning time of 1:46:22 last year, but four minutes behind Bob Shorrocks 2001 course record. This was Harkins third time running the 25K.
It was deceptively muddy. Its always muddier than you think its going to be, Harkin said. It kind of goes from oatmeal to energy gel texture under your foot. Like dried paint, but not all the way dry.