Lenovo IdeaPad Y510 review: Lenovo IdeaPad Y510

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MSRP: $881.92

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.

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7.2 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Battery 7
  • Support 7

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.

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.