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Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 4185 review: Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 4185

Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 4185

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR | Gaming | Metaverse technologies | Wearable tech | Tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
5 min read

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.


Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 4185

The Good

Movie-friendly 16:9 screen, thin and light, sturdy and stylish design, good speakers.

The Bad

Too much dead space in the keyboard tray; multitouch touch pad isn't well supported.

The Bottom Line

Online media consumers who want a portable laptop with high style and plenty of screen real estate should give the Y650 a look.

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
Height 1.0 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 16.0
System weight 5.62 pounds
Category Mainstream

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
Expansion ExpressCard/34, ExpressCard/54
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.

Lenovo includes an industry-standard one-year parts-and-labor warranty with the system. Support is available through a 24-7, toll-free technical-support phone line, and the Web site has the usual driver downloads and FAQs.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Y650

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Y650

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Y650

Unreal Tournament 3 (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,280x800, 0X AA, 0X AF  
Asus F50SV-A2 @ 1,280x720
Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 @ 1,280x720

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Y650
Dell Studio XPS 16
Asus F50SV-A2

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Lenovo IdeaPad Y650
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce G 105M; 320GB Western Digital 5,400rpm.

Dell Studio XPS 16
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600; 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 512MB ATI Radeon HD3670; 320GB Seagate 7,200rpm.

HP Pavilion dv7-1285dx
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 512MB Nvidia GeForce 9600M GT; 500GB Western Digital 5,400rpm.

Asus F50SV-A2
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8600; 4,096MB DDR2 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce G 120M; 320GB Seagate 7,200rpm.


Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 4185

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 7Performance 7Battery 6Support 6