Well, I suppose it's a better choice than Chrome OS. Google's Android operating system will be hitching a ride on two upcoming desktop machines from Lenovo. Each have their respective quirks – we'll start with the one that's bigger, more expensive, and probably not worth it compared to the other one, which looks decent.
The ThinkVision 28 Smart Display, as it's called, is a 28” beast with an impressive 3840x2160-pixel resolution, slated to cost a hefty $1199. It includes an NVIDIA Tegra CPU backed by 2GB of RAM and 32GB of mass storage space, running Android 4.3. There are 5w stereo speakers, 2MP webcam and microphone, three USB ports, three HDMI inputs, wired LAN, WiFi, NFC, and Miracast wireless display tech, curiously.
It bears mentioning that a monitor Lenovo put out recently, the ThinkVision Pro2840m, appears to be mostly the same as the Smart Display 28 – sans the Android guts, fancy chassis, and $400. It's a neat idea on paper, giving your big shiny high-res screen something to do when the power-guzzling workstation PC is off, but for less than that $400 extra you could get a 7” Google Nexus 7 tablet, one that can do practically everything the Smart Display could do while being much more portable.
The other system Lenovo's showing off is the simply-named N308. With a 19.5”, 1600x900-pixel panel, the N308 has a kickstand to adjust its angle from 15 to 65 degrees. You could also lay the system flat and play tabletop games, something that, with its Tegra 4 CPU (we're not sure which Tegra version is lurking inside the 28 Smart Display above), it would be quite capable of doing.
Or maybe not. The two-point infrared multitouch support isn't too impressive, but the N308 should also do well as a media repository and player, what with a 500GB internal hard drive being available as an option. Productivity could be doable, too, with the optional keyboard and mouse and that unofficial port of Apache OpenOffice for Android.
The other specs include the usual WiFi, Bluetooth, pair of USB ports, 6-in-one card reader, 1MP webcam and 2w stereo speakers alongside ambient light and gravity/orientation sensors. What's a little unusual is the built-in battery, good for three hours. It'll suffice as a UPS and for briefly carrying the 10.4lbs N308 from room to room. In any case, all of this is expected to go for around $449 and be available in black or white.
I'll admit I don't really like this trend of putting touchscreens on larger-screened devices, especially desktop systems, due to what some might call “gorilla arm.” The N308 can at least lay flat on a table, but the Smart Display looks like it's just putting on Android and touch for show. A value-added extra, as some might consider it, but for $400? No thanks. I would rather just get the cheaper ThinkVision counterpart and a Nexus 7.