Just as some people instinctively seek out the sleek computer with a classy chassis, there are also buyers looking for a workhorse PC to be tucked away on a desk or even a home office, that is up to the usual tasks while not breaking the bank.
The Chinese computer maker Lenovo is clearly aiming its 3000 series at the latter market, with prices for its J100 PC starting at €470 (monitor not included).
The name may be unfamiliar to some but there’s nothing wrong with its PC pedigree. Lenovo bought IBM’s PC division in 2004 and now come its first own-brand machines in Europe that owe more to the new owners rather than the previous ones.
Our review model was the vertical tower and the J100 is also available in the standard desktop horizontal form.
Prices vary depending on configuration: pay more (up to €660) and buyers get a different spec such as more memory capacity, different graphics options or improved processor speed.
The various options on offer resemble the tactics of other PC manufacturers which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Overall, the J100’s no-nonsense dark grey design says “sturdy and reliable” rather than screams “look at me”.
Personally I warmed to the keyboard which makes few concessions to style but has keys that are bouncy and nicely responsive. The flatscreen display, sold separately, also does the job well.
Add that to the many security features built in and you could call it the Saab of PCs.
These elements could well make the case for Lenovo machines among users who are wary around computers.
The best of these features is a one-button ‘roll back’ capability that resets the system to its previous state if it happens to be infected by a virus.
It bears repeating: this is a no-frills PC whose price is low because it doesn’t include application software such as Microsoft Office.
The only surprise is that Lenovo didn’t include even a free alternative such as one of the open source packages now available.
No complaints on the hardware side, however: Lenovo hasn’t skimped on the connectivity options and there are six USB ports for connecting peripherals such as external hard drives, music players or digital cameras. A DVD drive is also fitted as standard in all models.
Lenovo’s heritage gives it a marketing muscle that a brand-new manufacturer could scarcely hope to match and this, combined with a solid if not spectacular product offering, means we’re likely to be hearing more from this company.
Value for money *****
By Gordon Smith