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Lenovo IdeaPad Y510 review: Lenovo IdeaPad Y510

Lenovo IdeaPad Y510

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Dan Ackerman
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Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
5 min read

When is a ThinkPad not a ThinkPad? Don't twist your brain too hard around this riddle. It's when Lenovo, a corporate staple, makes a play for the casual laptop buyer, dressing up its solid, well-built systems with some new consumer-friendly features and naming it the 15-inch IdeaPad Y510.

7.2

Lenovo IdeaPad Y510

The Good

Solid construction; reasonably priced; face-recognition software that actually works; decent battery life.

The Bad

Fixed configuration; overly glossy screen; no Bluetooth.

The Bottom Line

Lenovo's entry into the consumer laptop market with the 15-inch IdeaPad Y510 provides ThinkPad-like quality but the design still comes off as a little buttoned-up.

Aside from the textured lid, 4.1 speaker system, and media control buttons, the IdeaPad T510 could almost double as a ThinkPad T61. While the above features give this 15-inch laptop some consumer appeal, some of other additions, such as a facial-recognition log-in screen, seem more at home in a business laptop. Available only as an $899 fixed-configuration retail system, we're not ready to declare Lenovo a major player in the consumer laptop market, but the solid build quality and reasonable price make it an interesting alternative to mainstream 15-inch offerings from Dell or Hewlett-Packard.

Price $899
Processor 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5450
Memory 2GB, 667MHz DDR2
Hard drive 250GB 5,400rpm
Chipset Intel GM965
Graphics Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 (integrated)
Operating System Windows Vista Premium
Dimensions (WDH) 14.3 x 10.2 x 1.2 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 15.4 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 6.2 / 7.0 pounds
Category Midsize

The Lenovo IdeaPad Y510 eschews the soft round edges and light colors of other 15-inch consumer laptops, such as the Dell Inspiron 1525, for a matte black finish and boxy shape. It feels solid and well-built, if a little on the heavy side, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The Dell 1525 is lighter but feels much flimsier. This still isn't the heftiest 15-inch around--that would be the 7.8-pound Alienware m15x.

The back of the lid is also black, but has a linenlike pattern etched into it. Lenovo calls it a "Light Weave Texture," and while it probably spent more time on the name than the design, it's at least a nice break from the usual flat, glossy laptop shells.

Lenovo is known for its excellent keyboards, and the IdeaPad's is very good, with thick, sturdy keys. A row of touch-sensitive media control buttons sit above the keyboard, and a volume rocker switch is on the right side of the keyboard tray. It's worth noting that the traditional Lenovo pointing stick in the middle of the keyboard is missing.

The Y510 takes audio seriously, with four front-mounted speakers and a subwoofer on the bottom. The sound is certainly a step above your average laptop, and good for movies and TV, but we have yet to find a laptop that offers acceptable sound for serious music listening.

A 1.3 megapixel Webcam sits above the display. It works with the VeriFace face-recognition software, which uses your face to log into Windows. Unlike the Asus U6S, the Lenovo version actually worked well, and we were able to log in almost instantly, after running a quick face-enrollment application, without having to play around with positioning and lighting.

The 15.4-inch wide-screen LCD has a 1,280x800 native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size. The display looks bigger than it actually is, thanks to a glossy screen overlay that extends right to the edges of the lid. Lenovo calls it a "frameless screen," although we'd probably save that designation for a screen with the smallest possible bezel--this one has a fairly standard half-inch bezel. The glossy overlay does make for a cleaner look, but it was a bit too glossy for our tastes, and we had a lot of screen glare to contend with.

  Lenovo IdeaPad Y510 Average for midsize category
Video VGA-out, S-Video VGA-out, S-Video
Audio 4.1 speakers w/subwoofer, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, multiformat memory card reader 4 USB 2.0, mini FireWire, multiformat memory card reader
Expansion Express Card PC Card slot
Networking Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi Modem, Ethernet, 802.11 a/b/g Wi-Fi, optional Bluetooth
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

As a fixed-configuration laptop, you won't get to add options such as mobile broadband to the IdeaPad Y510. At least the system has an ExpressCard slot, so that kind of hardware can be added aftermarket. The lack of Bluetooth was also disappointing--it's standard equipment now even in cheaper laptops.

Intel's 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo T5450 is the default CPU these days for laptops that want decent performance on a budget, and coupled with 2GB of RAM, the Y510 is certainly more than capable of Web surfing, working on office documents, media playback, and photo editing. We found its performance nearly identical to other mainstream laptops with the same 5450 chip, such as the Toshiba Satellite A205, and didn't experience any slowdown or stuttering.

Lenovo has a reputation for good battery life, and the IdeaPad Y510 does well for a budget-minded mainstream laptop, lasting 2 hours and 56 minutes on our DVD battery drain test. That test is especially grueling, so you can expect longer life from the included 6-cell battery in casual Web surfing and office use, and we got closer to 4 hours anecdotally.

Lenovo includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the system, and the company's support Web site is above average, providing easy access to features such as an online knowledge base and driver downloads. Support is also accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line and an online chat tool.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510
1,222 

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510
261 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510
247 

DVD battery drain test
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Y510
176 

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Lenovo IdeaPad Y510
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition; 1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5450; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 965GM; 250GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Acer TravelMate 6291
Windows Vista Business Edition; 1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5500; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 224MB Mobile Intel 945GM/GU Express Chipset; 120GB Seagate Momentus 5,400rpm

Dell XPS m1530
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition; 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Nvidia Geforce 8600M GT; 160GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Toshiba Satellite A205
Windows Vista Home Premium Edition; 1.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T5450; 2048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 358MB Mobile Intel 965GM; 200GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

7.2

Lenovo IdeaPad Y510

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 8Performance 7Battery 7Support 7
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