What Does The ‘Table PC’ Mean For Electronic Music?

PC maker Lenovo has introduced  the IdeaCentre Horizon – a new Windows 8 computer that they put in a new category, ‘multitouch table PC‘.

The Horizon offers several features – like a giant multi-touch screen and support for tangible computing – that seemed futuristic just a few years ago, but are now coming to mainstream computers.

Here’s a video intro to the Horizon:

One thing that’s striking from the video is how cumbersome it looks to lug this ‘table PC’ around.

Nevertheless, devices like this could hold a lot of potential for electronic musicians. They’re Intel-based, they run the full version of Windows 8 and they’ll support applications that might be cramped on a tablet computer.

The Lenovo’s Horizon computer includes

  • Up to 3rd generation Intel®Core™ i7 processor
  • Up to Windows 8 Pro
  • 27″ backlit full HD (1920×1080) multi-touch display; 16:9 widescreen
  • Up to 2 hours battery life
  • Up to 1TB HDD
  • Up to 8GB DDR3

Pricing is still TBA for the IdeaCenter Horizon and availability is planned for Summer 2013.

What do you think of the prospects of the ‘multitouch table PC’ for music?

50 thoughts on “What Does The ‘Table PC’ Mean For Electronic Music?

  1. Can’t wait to get something (firewire, etc.) like this to be my main rig for audio production. I’m tired of my mouse/trackball/touchpad.
    And I want to leave the studio (home office) whenever I want and still being able to continue producing, without having to change platforms. I want to work the iPad way (touch interface), but without the iOS shackles.
    Looking forward to what will surely be the next standard in home computing.

    1. Where are you going to conveniently use this? And why are you tired of your trackpad? “Not futuristic” enough for you? You’re looking forward to your neck bending over and staring at you coffee table…. Your arms reaching all over the place for hours? Are you joking?

      Can’t wait to see people try to use this in Starbucks or on an airplane/ subway, etc.

  2. This looks like a sketch out of a tv show. hahaha. Skype call ” Picks up HUGE monster iPad” (look at her face, thing is probably heavy) stands in living room. Why would you do that? You can do that with an iphone, ipad, droid. etc. etc. etc.

    1. You seem to be judging this by tablet standards..

      Architects and builders are already wanting to buy these, because they’ll replace blueprints.

      Computer artists are looking at these as a new type of electronic canvas.

      These should be great tools for musicians, too.

  3. I’m not completely sold on touchscreen compared to hardware really but as a mostly ITB guy it may be preferable to just mouse based. I think it has a way to go before it’s all worked out for proper music use – I see it coming in a few years really when new or existing DAWs and plugin developers seek to modify their products to properly support this. At the moment from the touch screen DAW attempts i’ve seen on youtube looks fiddly and unresponsive or difficult to get much accuracy. I’m not really sold on the ‘advantages’ of touchscreen for anything but music stuff really. There just seems no point – like i’s just a gimmick when my macbook pro trackpad does most of this stuff anyway. I’d rather be touching my touchpad than have my fingers all over the screen creating prints and getting in the way of my line of vision.

    1. Well said. These simple things such as line of vision outweigh the sensational aspects IMO…. My trackpad still feels great…and, I can still see what I’m doing. Kinda important. We shouldn’t forget what actuality works vs some huge flashy looking but impractical toy.

  4. Jeez! What aggravating tunage behind that ad!

    I think that something like this could be a great tool for music making. You could have one of Arturia’s synths on the screen and play the keys while tweaking the knobs. Mixing will be much more intuitive when you can push buttons and slide sliders in a more realistic fashion. Pointing and clicking will soon become so last century.

    So generally I think this will be a good thing. The big plus is that these machines will run full Windows 8 so you can use all of the plugins that you already own and you aren’t hobbled with a cut down OS like iOS or Windows RT.

    If Microsoft were smart they should buy Reaper and a couple of instrument and effect devs and make a killer music making package a la Logic. Just tweak everything for touch screen use.

    1. If Microsoft were smart, they would not have a long history of baffling moves that come across like finding a pirahna in the toilet. Buying and refining Reaper would take imagination and commitment they’ve rarely evidenced. Besides, they have a lot of the business market sewn up. I doubt they feel any need to dabble in music seriously. Its always been an afterthought and a game of catch-up with them.

      1. Please understand that Microsoft do not really “support” audio apps in a proactive sense.
        They are in the OS, office and database markets.
        And also in the games console market, but that’s a different division.
        They just need the audio work well enough to stream movies, so that’s what it does.

        Then they don’t actively prevent the PC to crunch numbers that represent audio, but that’s just what users will do at their own peril. (“Users” here includes the pesky segment of audio software makers that just complain and are never going to make a single worthwhile dollar for the company).

        (PS I say this as Windows user since way back, and as occasional hack audio coder.)

        (PPS And very little Mac envy – got over that with, er, OS 7.5 when they introduced lots of new GUI controls and destabilized their OS so it could crash almost as easily as a PC.)

    2. “Just tweak everything for touch screen use.”

      LOL That belief system right there is exactly what Microsoft is counting on to sell units. Too bad it takes a hell of a lot more work than “just tweaking”.

  5. Well, why not. I think it’s great that companies are trying out different form factors and usage patterns. You never know what might stick and be successful with users.

  6. It looks seductive at first, but it seems too unwieldy at that size. A work surface like that should be enthroned in a solid place. A computer is a hella complex and delicate thing to haul around casually, even an iPad. The imagined convenience of things being portable doesn’t always play out in practice. You get too distracted, you become a bit of a drone with your nose in a screen and you can get careless about protecting your toy physically. I like the idea of an iPad I could use when I traveled, able to transfer my noodlings into my desktop later, where my work flow benefits from my own established playing ergonomics. But this big honker? Pardon me, but the first problem is allowing two post-toddlers to move your computer around in the first place. The second is where your mindset is about your screen time when you think you need to move that around at home. Someone always likes the new generation of shiny objects, but IMO, in the end, the sweetheart size for such a pad will be a third smaller.

  7. Why is no one talking about latency?!? Ruddess used one of these at a demo and it had at least 100 ms of latency when playing his app. If w8 can ever bring that down then it may be worth it. Till then, stick to something that actually works.

    1. Not a Windows 8 problem, just a matter of vendors getting their drivers right.

      Rudess tried his apps on a big Sony tablet and said latency compared to that on an iPad.

    2. yep.. DPC latency averaging ~1ms (should be <100us) because microsoft has boiled all interrupts down to one to minimise cpu usage and extend battery life.. basically, windows 8 is designed for the kiddie tablet market. don't expect anything too useful from it.

  8. Looks like it could be an interesting mobile rig for performing.

    Instead of showing ‘mom’ lugging it around, they should have shown somebody performing on it with Live in a club. This ‘table PC’ looks like it could be a better solution for creative work than tablets, simply because of the larger work area.

  9. I would rather see something like a 13 or 15 inch Windows 8 Pro tablet. Would make a great live performance tool (when used with something like Emulator Pro from Smithson Martin). I think the sheer size of this unit is a little overboard.

  10. Mostly, what THIS MODEL of tablePC means for electronic music is that we a have a ways to go before we have self-contained, mobile, multi-touch performance/production tablets capable of running a full-fledged OS. There is nothing in this commercial that wasn’t possible back when Microsoft first shipped my company a coffee-table sized Surface back in 06. The unit is smaller, the specs are improved, the screen looks better, and they now have interactive-accessories. End list of differences.

    But the implications of this technology are essentially the same that we assumed from the iPad 4 years ago. As the tech really catches up with the needs of electronic (and other) musicians, then the game will change and people will increasingly find mobile music-making a practical and valuable option. Instrument stores will continue to slim out their hardware synth inventory as more and more musicians opt for the affordability and simplicity of one infinitely-expandable unit over expensive, dedicated hardware synths that require lots of space, care, transport, set-up and tangled webs of cabling.

    as for the IdeaCentre, it is nothing new but still oh so futuristic. Like DJ Shadow’s miami set.

  11. Doesn’t matter if you “press play” by clicking a mouse or tapping a screen, it’s not going to “legitimize” so-called “live” electronic music…

    1. Now before you mod me down by saying live electronic music is just “pressing play” i was obviously talking about Bad Guys like Skrillex or Evil Doers like Deadmau5 not your personal favorite artist, your personal favorite artist is obviously a Real Musician, which can be proven by his low record sales and small live shows!

        1. Well it just seems like everyone is just dying to buy some device that will transform them from computer nerd to Real Musician…well, such a device already exists, it’s called: a guitar!

          1. sorry, this is bs.

            i’ve been playing bass for 42 years. have a university degree in classical contrabass and have had my music reviewed and played all over the world.

            so for me, the ipad is a great tool to use live for improv stuff.

            get your head out of your dogma.

            1. I’m just joking man but I hate it when electronic producers seems so desperate for some device to come along and and make them into “real musicians”. Every time some crappy midi pad or touchscreen thing comes out there’s a whole bunch of hype like “omg this could be the thing that makes our music into real music!” and it’s like…dude, if you want to be in a “real band” that bad just buy a fricken moog and play it. Why is suddenly just being a dj/producer not good enough? Because you think being a “live” act allowed you to charge more? Well, that’s all you care about why not just start making mainstream trance or brostep or whatever? Those guys make tons of money. It’s not like your glitchy idm turds are going to turn to gold just because you tapped them out on a touchscreen.

              1. so you’re half-joking 😉

                any tool can be used by people in the wrong way. maybe you’re not old enough to remember what people said about electric bass, rhodes pianos, moog synthesizers, etc.

              2. I could believe in “IDM” a LOT more if even one practitioner got his/her beats rolling and then came out FRONT to play over it creatively where we could see their hands. Derek Sherinian’s idea of angling his ‘boards towards the audience leaves no doubt about jack. Show me some real-time playing and not just “programming chops.” That’s where most of the heart resides. I really appreciate a few acts like Banco De Gaia, who show some great added spark, but show me the hands and make me a true believer.

                1. while i don’t necessarily disagree, i wonder how you feel about classical composers, who basically program an orchestra to play notes?

                2. While musical performances should always be entertaining, they do not always have to be a spectacle. Some artists don’t want to be out front running their fingers up and down an instrument just to show off how much they’ve practiced their scales. And some fans appreciate that. Just because an artist isn’t as technically flashy or provoking doesn’t mean they’re unskilled. And just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean other people won’t. Support what you like, ignore what you don’t.

                  Not to turn preachy, but if you want to get fired up about something, try something a little more consequential like poverty or mental health or gun control or anything of any significance. Because diatribes about how there are performers who don’t fit your idea of a good performer isn’t gonna do anything to change someone else’s creative outlet and form of expression.

  12. one of these would be pretty cool for doing my mixdowns on, it would be very handy if they included a thunderbolt or firewire 800 somehow though for expensive soundcard compatibility

  13. i guess their target demographic likes out-of-tune singing . . . ouch.

    but, ugly kid moe said this:
    “Instrument stores will continue to slim out their hardware synth inventory as more and more musicians opt for the affordability and simplicity of one infinitely-expandable unit over expensive, dedicated hardware synths that require lots of space, care, transport, set-up and tangled webs of cabling.”

    and that pretty much encapsulates how i feel about the ipad and any other future touchscreen devices.

  14. This is my issue with implimenting touch in Windows 8.

    Where are there capacitive touch screen monitors, *with ten point touch*, that are around or under $400? That you can *confirm* have 10 touch points?

    They don’t exist. There are cheap touch screens, but they don’t have 10 touch points. There are screens with 10 point touch, but they are *at least* $700. Usually in 4 figures.

    This portable 27″ might be nice, and perhaps suited for certain situations. But why the hell can I not buy a Windows 8 upgrade disc, an affordable *and* useful touch enabled monitor, and build MY OWN MACHINE? Then people have have their firewire, upgradeable processors, PCI sound cards, etc etc etc.

    There have been promising press releases, but I haven’t seen anything actually buy-able and on the market right now. Big failure of the Windows 8 launch, in my opinion.

    1. Microsoft technology being overhyped and poorly executed? Don’t act so surprised bro, that’s been the Microsoft mode of operation for 30 years.

      1. I suppose you’re right. That being said, they managed to get shit together enough to make reference tablets (Surface, and RT variations). Now, the quality might be up for discussion.

        But what that means is that microsoft put all this effort into making a reference tablet that other companies could use a guide to make their own, talked to all these companies about logistics, pushed for tablets tablets tablets in time for a Windows 8 release… and no one had any moment where they thought they should do something similar with a monitor.

        You’re already making the screens! They just have expensive computer guts I don’t want. Take those out, and sell me the touch screen. It’s not like they didn’t do any work- it’s that they did a good amount of work myopically.

    2. Microsoft should just kill the Metro interface and work on making Windows – the Windows that can actually run our apps – work as well as possible with touchscreens.

      Sonar looks pretty good, but we want Live!

  15. I’m a huge Apple/Mac/iPad/iPod/iPhone fan but I dug this “table” PC when I saw it in the Microsoft store. I think it would be great for music apps and multi-touch VSTs if it gets some quality software support. I’m still not into Windows 8’s start menu, of course, but it does work slightly better on a touchscreen…

    I really like the way it adjusts to multiple angles as well as “flat” mode for games and for those of us who reminisce about the “cocktail” tabletop arcade cabinet versions of various classic arcade games like Pac-Man, Galaga, etc. – it would be a great base for building a tabletop MAME cabinet that also did multitouch games and music apps.

    It’s also a cheap alternative to a Wacom Cintiq, although the capacitive screen isn’t as accurate as a resistive screen, and obviously you need a special bluetooth stylus with pressure sensitivity.

  16. This thing is a joke – Lenovo trolling an imaginary market – one extreme to the next fishing for a new market. Hardware touch still has so many benefits – the heat this thing would give off would make you sweat – and as we all know hit fingers are shit for performance – there are many attachments for games like stick on joy sticks – I think a stick on capacitive knob would be awesome and a touch of LEAP it would work.

  17. This no is a joke, work ok, and is ultra stable with windows 8 or 7.
    We provide solution for OSX users, anyway, i use under my gigs, Ableton + Traktor + Emulator PRO.
    I really not pretend evangelize about PC world, but the LENOVO A720, is a really great option, I have installed on my Lenovo win8 with the software I created Emulator.
    Also I use our product KS-1974 combined with Lenovo a720 for some live acts.
    Take a look, sorry for the quality this are fragments with photo camera, I create this video, not for our company, just for my fans, and create a version in English.

    Open your mind to new possibilities is a option should never be ignored, specially for electronic music artists, after all electronic music is that………evolution!

    Best regards!

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