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A week before the holidays, the elves over at the Lenovo Outletset up shop in the Lenovo cafeteria and offered up some remarkable deals for employees to take advantage of.  Ever since it debuted at CES last year, I've been a secret admirer of the A300 series of all in one form factor IdeaCentre desktop systems,  so when I saw a stack of them for sale in the cafeteria, I just couldn't resist.  I'm glad I acted on impulse as they were sold out quickly.

With the holidays behind me, I had an opportunity to finally unpack and set up the A300. I was impressed with the initial out of box experience - the system was well protected with peel off clear plastic films to ensure it arrived without scratches, and the set up poster made startup a snap.

This was the first system I ever used with a Bluetooth wireless keyboard and mouse, and I was admittedly a bit curious as to how easily they would pair up with the system.   I've read that this can be a challenge with some systems.  The set up poster made it easy though - it walked me through several different ways to get the keyboard and mouse to connect.   The first step was to pull out the insulating tab that kept the batteries (thoughtfully pre-installed) from running down while the system was shipped or in storage prior to end user setup.   So many toys I helped set up for my nephews over the holidays either didn't include  batteries, or packaged them separately - hidden away in an obscure cardboard compartment in the packaging. 

Pairing the keyboard and mouse turned out to be fairly straightforward.  When you turned on the mouse, there was a button to press on the bottom for it to start signaling the computer.  The mouse and keyboard began blinking their green LEDs.  A button pushed on the system initiated the search for Bluetooth devices and within a few seconds, recognized both the keyboard and mouse.   On subsequent restarts, it still takes a few seconds to find the mouse, and while the computer searches, the mouse pointer hangs frozen on the screen.   After more than a decade of using the ThinkPad's reliable trackpoint, this is taking a little bit of getting used to, but the keyboard and mouse both have a very nice weighted feel to them, and exceptional usability.  As I've been away from a desktop keyboard for a while too, (This is my first desktop since 1998) having my palms rest on the table and not on the palmrest is a bit different.   I expected there might be a typing delay due to the wireless connection, but am impressed with the responsiveness  as I keyed in this post.

The rest of the out of box setup went smoothly and I made my selections as to which optional services I wanted to take advantage of - help with an ISP, activating McAfee AV, MS Office trial, or online data backup.

  

 As the Lenovo portion of setup concluded and Windows 7 checked for updates, I was only a bit surprised to find that there were some 58 updates available, totaling almost 150 megs.  The system's preload is almost a year old, and Windows 7 has been an official release for some 14 months, so this was to be expected.   No matter, the updates proceeded smoothly - all via wireless connection.  Wireless on a desktop!  If it weren't for the single prompt for my network's encryption key during set up, connectivity would have seemed almost a magician's trick.  No ethernet cables to plug in.

I'm still amazed by the tiny footprint and elegance of the design...

I think it looks great from any angle.  I did remove some of the stickers related to particular internal components in order to clean up the aesthetics just a bit.  An absolute minimalist could also remove the Lenovo logo on the rear, but I like it.  The white and chrome hardware and trim really give it a 21st century look.

As cool as this is, I can't wait to see what Lenovo showcases at CES in the coming days... watch for it onLenovosocial!

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