Pros Loved the keyboard and size. Was not able to test more as it failed so quickly.
Cons Hard drive failed after less than an hours use. It popped up the blue screen of death and went into an endless boot cycle.
Customer Service was TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Summary In response to these unusual and frustrating tactics, I highly recommend shortcutting this process and simply not giving your money to Lenovo in the first place.
"Thank you for choosing Lenovo where it is our goal to ensure that you are extremely satisfied."
This was the last thing I heard before being dumped into the hold queue for technical support. I was reassured. I remember thinking that any company with corny a slogan like that must put a strong emphasis on customer service so they would make it right.
I had ordered my laptop from Lenovo 6 weeks ago. It was everything I wanted: professional, small, and reasonably fast, with a long battery life - somewhere between a netbook and an ultraportable. I waited anxiously only to find out once it had arrived that the wireless side of my home network wasn't working. Another three weeks and a new router later, I was excited to try again. All in all, I had had the laptop open less than an hour so far this would be the big test. Finally. Tonight. My new perfect little machine hung up on the first site and gave me the blue screen of death on the second site. This was followed by an endless boot cycle. My new perfect wonderful little laptop was dead. I was crushed. But Lenovo's goal is to ensure that I am extremely satisfied, so they would make this right?.
The first person I spoke to was Alan. He asked me to run a diagnostic application on the hard drive that was apparently embedded in the BIOS. The trouble was.... there was no hard drive diagnostic application embedded in the BIOS, something of which Lenovo was apparently unaware. Next, he requested the laptop to be run in "safe mode". He had to request that several times even though nothing had happened the first time, just in case something different would happen after doing exactly the same thing. Then he said that it must be the hard drive or a corrupt operating system and that either way they would need to replace the hard drive. I thought about my perfect little laptop with less than an hour's run time on it and how often Lenovo sent out defective machines. I expected to hear a little fumbling and then a statement about Lenovo's reputation and reassurance that they would make this right. Instead, Alan said that he could give me the number for sales and they could arrange a return and refund. I was shocked. I was put off. I started to have doubts that Lenovo would make this right, much less leave me extremely satisfied.
After I told Alan that I wanted a wanted a solution and not a refund, he verified that I had purchased onsite support and my address so that a tech could be sent out to fix my little laptop by swapping the hard drive for a new one. So far this had been a slightly aggravating support call, not extremely satisfying but not beyond the parameters of a slightly below average call either.
That was about to change. First, despite apparently having record of what I purchased, Alan couldn't figure out what kind of drive had been originally installed on the laptop. The invoice described... or should have described all the parts that went into the laptop.... parts like.... well like the hard drive. After some time, he told me that I had a 120Gb drive. During this time, I had pulled up my electronic invoice and was able to see that I actually had a 320Gb hard drive so I offered him the actual part number. He, then, declared the hard drive was a "mandatory crew piece". This apparently meant that I had to do the replacement and a tech would NOT be sent out. When I asked him to explain why this was the case when I had paid extra for onsite support, he again recommended calling sales to get a refund. It was starting to sound like he just wanted to end the call. He even provided the number for the sales department. After buying a laptop with a warranty that specified house calls, I was being asked to perform the operation myself. I told him to send the hard drive and with no satisfaction I ended the call.
The next morning, I was still unhappy and I really wanted someone to explain why I needed to install the hard drive myself when I had paid for onsite support. A new call to technical support got me different person. This woman, in order to provide what she believed was excellent customer service thought that snippiness was the perfect tool to deliver this resolution. She said that a "mandatory crew piece" must be swapped out by the customer. After being asked several times what the reasoning was behind this policy she only repeated that it was part of the warranty agreement and that it was a mandatory crew piece. After I politely asked her to explain "Why I should keep this f*cking computer", her response was to demand "respect", explain that she had done everything possible and ask if there was anything else she could do. After all, it was their goal to ensure that I was extremely satisfied. I asked for her manager.
The next person was named Joshua, and he was the first reasonable sounding agent I had yet spoken to, explaining that the reason a tech was not going sent out for the hard drive swap was that it was an easy fix. They could send out the hard drive and I could fix the laptop short order. He told me that my new hard drive and the recovery disks would be shipped immediately. I reminded him that I did not have a cd rom drive. He said that the installation application could not be sent on a flash drive. He also said that the "fix" for this issue was that I would have to buy a cd rom drive with no reimbursement in order to install a new hard drive. He apologized that he was not authorized to help me more. I explained that I would share my dissatisfaction with the electronic world and recommended that unless he wanted that, he find someone who was authorized to help me further. It was a shame that this agent was the most reasonable up to this point, because an accidental disconnect ended the call. At least he cleared up some of the confusion.
The next person wasn't Joshua and wasn't so reasonable. I asked this new tech, Shah, to speak with Joshua but Shah claimed that it was impossible to transfer the call.... in a call center... where half of their job is to be able to transfer you to the proper department. That was something I didn't know. He also unhelpfully explained that reason I had to buy a new CD rom was because the lack of a CD rom was my fault. He seemed quite offended when I insisted that since the company was responsible was sending the defective laptop, the company should be responsible for the cost of fixing it. Shah didn't agree and suggested a call to Sales for a refund several times over the course of this conversation. I finally took him up his suggestion because I was extremely dissatisfied and actually quite offended at the difference between my experience and the promise of "it is our goal to ensure that you are extremely satisfied."
So I gave up and called the Sales department. I not-so-patiently explained the whole tech support story to this new person. Despite this, the sales representative requested my name and number and asked if tech support had been contacted, as if her ears had shorted out while that story was being told. She also requested a case number even though I had offered the case number at the beginning of the call. I was sensing a pattern. At this point, I demanded a supervisor. She said that the "manager will only tell you the same thing I did". This was quite possibly the worst customer service experience I had ever witnessed and I told her as much, which prompted her to respond saying that she would remove the 15% restocking fee that Lenovo normally charges on returns, something else that no one got around to mentioning before. This was the first mention of a restocking fee. At least they were being consistently unhelpful.
After processing the return, I asked for a manager more insistently. Ahmed the supervisor came to the phone and offered to talk to the sales team about getting a new computer sent out. Unfortunately, he required that it be processed as a refund, with the old laptop sent back and I would have to buy a new laptop at the same price, but there were no guarantees. Mind you, he only said he would "speak" with the sales team about getting it done, because managers aren't actually in charge of anything. If he couldn't get his team to play along though, I would have to buy a new laptop, and if it was more expensive then I would be out the extra money. Even if it worked, it wasn't a convenient fix by any stretch of the imagination. The bottom line was that it would take almost 3 weeks for the refund to be processed and three weeks before the new laptop was delivered, so for three weeks I would be out a laptop, twice the money. I should note that if it is their normal policy to process the refund and then sell a new computer - the customer would still usually be charged the additional 15% restocking fee thus would be now purchasing the computer at 115% of the price and waiting an additional 3 weeks to receive it. Far from trying to "solve the support issue" and satisfy their customer, at each turn, each representative for Lenovo seemed more intent on returning the money to the customer and making the customer go away. Actually fixing their mistake seems to cost even more money from their customer.
In response to these unusual and frustrating tactics, I highly recommend shortcutting this process and simply not giving your money to Lenovo in the first place.
Pros Sounds great so far.
Cons Waiting for answers.
Summary I just priced this out at the Lenovo site using the exact same configuration as reviewed above. The upgrades included Windows 7 Pro 64 (+$50), E-350 1.6Ghz processor (+$40), 4GB DDR3 RAM (+$80), 320GB 7200rpm hard drive (+$70) and a 6-cell battery (+$50). That adds nearly $300 to the $399 list price, making this a $700 model. That's a pretty steep increase of nearly 20% over the $579 quoted in the review. If CNET can tell us where, exactly, this package price can be obtained, we're all ears. Otherwise how about revising your review to reflect the actual price consumers can be expected to pay?
Pros Great screen resolution for the size, crisp and clear. Wifi reception is great, keyboard is a pleasure to work on... Not overloaded with bloatware. Solid build.
Cons Screen bezel not minimized... larger on top to hold the dual wifi antennae.
Summary I could easily make the decision to buy a few more of these for my team. Low price range with high benefit.
Pros The AMD Fusion cpu is very fast compared to Intel Atom. Windows is quite responsive here. Great keyboard and nice plain design. Great with multitasking. Capable of playing 1080p video smoothly.
Cons The battery life isn't as great as Intel Atom. Also, 2 finger scrolling rarely works. However, scrolling with the trackpoint always does.
Summary This is the perfect netbook for me. The AMD APU has performance that's better than a dual-core atom (the E350 AMD CPU that is), and graphics that are perhaps better than an Nvidia ION GPU. Meanwhile, it costs as much, if not less, than one of those systems. The keyboard is great, the trackpoint is precise, and the matte black design is nice and plain (unlike all these glossy consumer machines). With the 6-cell battery, I get about 5 hours of life.Oh also - there are a few programs like Adobe Reader and MS Office 2010 preinstalled. It wants to install a Norton trial but you can decline. I uninstalled some of the thinkpad utilities. Also, they claim it supports a max of 4GB RAM, but many report that it's actually 8GB. I haven't tried that though. Oddly, the FN key is leftmost and then the Control key, but you can easily switch them in the BIOS (push F1 or F2 during post, I forget which).
The AMD Fusion APU combines great integrated graphics (low-end by dedicated standards) with a resonably good low-end CPU.
I recommend getting 4GB RAM, but lenovo wants $80 for that. You can get a DDR3 1333MHz 2GB module for it for $25 elsewhere (like newegg). I bought a g.skill one.
Also, the laptop feels fairly cool on the palmrests and underneath the laptop, but the vent on the left is always putting out warm air. Of course, that means the cooling system is working well.
Basically, the AMD Fusion APU shows how Intel Atom is really a dog. Atom netbooks are known to be slow, and they deserve that reputation. However, this AMD Fusion system is not - far from it in fact. This is really what a netbook should be. I can do lots of multitasking with basic programs like Office and a web browser, and I can even play 1080p video (as long as I use a program that supports hardware acceleration) and some games (with low settings). Sure it can't do that with youtube, but Adobe Flash is typically terrible at using hardware acceleration, so the CPU is stuck with all that and it can't keep up. Youtube video plays fine at 720p though. I connected it to a 1080p hdtv via HDMI and played a 480p hulu video with no issues at all.
Let's see an Atom system do all that. This was $450 well spent (AMD Fusion E350, 2GB RAM, 320GB 7200RPM Hitachi HD, b/g/n wifi, no BT).
Windows Experience Scores:
Gaming GFX 5.7
btw the wifi card is a Realtek 8192CE. I updated my drivers using the ones from realtek's site and wifi performance improved. It shows as a Thinkpad wireless card but it really isn't made by Lenovo. Also, the default touchpad drivers kept changing the vertical scrolling value to 1. Lenovo released updated drivers that fix that problem.
Updated on May 22, 2011
Pros It's pretty fast, the keyboard is great, the price is good. Build feels sturdy. I bought this after hearing cnet's report.
Cons Every 1-2 mins, the audio stutters for mp3s and video. For someone who listens to podcasts and music, it's really irritating. Confirmed by other people. Also lenovo charges you a 15% restock fee for refunds.
Summary I'm a huge fan of thinkpads and lenovo (s12 and t40). However, I feel like lenovo's quality has been slipping. The audio issue was a pretty big turn off for me. I hope they fix it soon.