In a media-saturated online world, it's no surprise that whole categories of laptops now seem made to appeal to the home streaming-video connoisseur. Lenovo's IdeaPad Y series, and the Y650 in particular, look tailor-made for those who want to watch TV and media on a big, bright screen with better-than-average audio, and a decor-friendly design to match.
The $1,249 Y650 we reviewed is the higher end of the two fixed-configuration models, which includes a fast 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 and 4GB of DDR3 memory. The Y650 is the thinnest, lightest 16-inch laptop we've seen, and our only real complaint is the not-quite-full-HD display, which isn't ideal for 1080p content.
|Price as reviewed / starting price||$1,249 / $1,149|
|Processor||2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8700|
|Memory||4GB, 1066MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||320GB 5,400rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel PM45 Express|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce G 105M 256MB|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Premium|
|Dimensions (WD)||15.4x10.2 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||16.0|
|System weight||5.62 pounds|
Not long ago, Lenovo was known best for their minimalist, nondescript business ThinkPads. Comparatively, the Y series (part of the company's consumer-targeted IdeaPad line) is eye-popping and clearly targeted for younger media consumers. Designed with sleek materials, the 16-inch Y650 is matte black on the outside, with a slightly rubberized hex pattern and a copper stripe along the edges. Inside, the glossy white keyboard and palm rest area really pops in contrast to the shiny black screen--it comes across as slightly futuristic and very competitive with the aesthetic benchmark set by Apple's MacBook designs.
Carbon fiber helps reduce weight and add sturdiness, and the overall feel is pleasantly rigid. It's also lightweight for its category: 5.6 pounds for a 16-inch screen is hard to beat. The Y650 is very thin considering its considerable screen real estate. The lid, to no surprise, is a two-hander for opening. Spread across your lap, this laptop feels like a Cadillac.
Surrounding the keyboard are stereo JBL speakers, volume control buttons, a OneKey data backup shortcut button, and backlit touch-panel program launcher--which works nicely--with shortcut keys to Dolby audio options and screen brightness settings. The touch pad is large, comfortable, and multitouch capable, covered in a tactile surface that responds with excellent sensitivity. However, support for multitouch is sparse, to the say the least, as opposed to the relatively robust multitouch experience in recent MacBooks.
The built-in 2-watt speakers are boomy for their size, plenty loud enough for personal use (we kept them at midlevel most of the time). Dolby simulated surround even worked, too. For games, having a better-than-average set of speakers paid off. In a laptop this thin, it's nice to have speakers that aren't totally useless.
The 16-inch wide-screen LCD screen offers a 1,366x768 native resolution, which is a bit of a disappointment--no 1080p means that some HD videos won't display at their best. Still, it's enough resolution for 720p content, and the brightness and overall picture quality are excellent for any casual media viewing.
|Lenovo IdeaPad Y650||Average for category [mainstream]|
|Video||VGA-out, HDMI||VGA-out, HDMI|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks, SPDIF||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||2 USB 2.0, SD card reader, 1 eSATA||4 USB 2.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0||Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
Other than lacking an ExpressCard/54 slot and a third USB port, its port collection is reasonably complete. The eSATA port isn't a combo USB port, which is a lost opportunity. Large rear rubber feet on the bottom of the chassis give the laptop good support and a slight elevation on flat surfaces. The pop-out DVD drive is front-loading, which may lead to problems in already-cramped places such as airplanes.
With a fast 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 processor and 4GB of DDR3 RAM, the Y650 seems especially zippy jumping around applications. The discrete graphics processor, an Nvidia G105M, helps with HD video and gaming graphics, but the performance isn't speedy enough to consider this a gaming laptop. In performance tests, the Y650 only handled Unreal Tournament 3 at 21 frames per second--a decent rate to play at, but not ideal. Similar laptops, including the Dell Studio XPS 16, more than doubled that framerate (thanks to the Dell's ATI Mobility Radeon HD3670 graphics).
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 ran for 2 hours and 17 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included six-cell battery. That's less than we'd expect from a six-cell battery, but slightly better than the Dell Studio XPS 16. In anecdotal home usage, it chewed up a good chunk of its life during one streaming episode of an hourlong TV show. Still, a 16-inch laptop passes the point where we'd expect to carry it around very often, and it will likely remain tethered to a power outlet most of the time.