IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Lenovo ThinkCentre Tiny-in-One Review: Full-Featured and Easily Upgradable

Lenovo's interesting bit of engineering has customized a 23-inch monitor to hold a tiny, full-featured computer system, making it easily upgradable for repairs or refresh. By James E. Gaskin

The All-in-One computer models tend to be low volume but steady sellers. Some consumers and business owners like the convenience of fewer boxes and cords underfoot than with a regular desktop computer. Some businesses really need to fit a full computer system into a smaller space for various reasons.

Lenovo, makers of many computers and monitors, has done an interesting bit of engineering. They customized a 23-inch monitor to hold the Lenovo M83 Tiny, a 7.04" x 7.16" x 1.35" case that holds a full Intel i5 or i7 computer system including plenty of memory (8 to 12 to 16GB) and a variety of hard disks from 320GB 2.5 inch spinning SATA drives to 256GB SSDs and all points in between.

Not Install but Slide and Plug

Technically, you install the M83 Tiny into the Tiny All-in-One monitor to make the system. Practically, you take the monitor, slide the M83 Tiny into the space on the back of the monitor and connect the keyboard and mouse that comes with the M83. Bingo, you have an All-in-One.

This differs from the VESA mounts many small chassis systems use to latch on to the back of VESA compliant monitors. In those cases, you still need cables to run from the computer box to the monitor (VGA, HDMI, or Display Port) and separate power connections for both monitor and computer. From the front, they look OK. From the back, it's a bit of a mess, especially if you don't have short cables and have to tie up wires to keep them out of sight.

Lenovo cleverly provides power to the M83 Tiny computer via a pass-through plug. One of the three connectors you see in Install-2.png is for power, and the other two transmit the video information. That's how Lenovo eliminates the cable mess so many VESA mounted homemade All-in-One systems have.

There's even a little plastic cover to hide the top of the M83 Tiny from being seen inside the holder and looking slightly odd. Once in place, you can't even see the Wi-Fi antenna attached to the M83 Tiny from in front of the monitor.

Handy and Manageable
The biggest aggravation for owners of an All-in-One is that if one part goes out, like the computer, the monitor is gone as well. That's not the case here. In fact, Lenovo makes it easier than ever to upgrade All-in-One systems as needed for repairs or refresh. It literally took us two minutes to slide in the M83 Tiny, close the back, and run USB connector from the mouse and keyboard to the ports on the M83 Tiny. That's a fast replacement time should the need arrive.

Cute trick: you can turn on the computer and monitor at one time by pressing Alt+P on the keyboard (when plugged into the correct port), or you can just push the On button on the monitor. They're tied together so it works either way.

This isn't the most modern monitor but it's as good or better than most on company desktops today. The bezel around the screen is close to an inch wide all around and looks slightly dated. Controls cover all the standard details, including color settings of neutral, reddish, or bluish. RGB colors can be adjusted individually, but there's not the depth of gamma correction and like on some the new (and much more expensive) monitors. This is a knowledge-worker monitor, not a video editor monitor. But how many video editors do you have in your company? Most people will be fine using this 23-inch monitor.

Clever bit of mashing up a good solid corporate monitor with a computer with a small chassis but full feature list. Easy to install, easy to replace is the word here. This provides none of the hassles of an All-in-One (oh now, I must send back everything in case of a problem) while giving you a way to make the most configurable All-in-One catalog list of models you've ever seen.

Lenovo Tiny All-in-One (10DQPAR6US)
Pricing and Availability: $279 direct from Lenovo

About the Author

James E. Gaskin's picture

JAMES E. GASKIN is a ChannelPro contributing editor and former reseller based in Dallas.

ChannelPro SMB Magazine

Get an edge on the competition

With each issue packed full of powerful news, reviews, analysis, and advice targeting IT channel professionals, ChannelPro-SMB will help you cultivate your SMB customers and run your business more profitably.