I will start with saying that I am an amateur photographer who will be using the laptop primarily for photo editing along with miscellaneous computer work. My Needs: - 4th generation Intel i5 - The i7, while more powerful, draws more power then the i5 and I determined that I would not need the extra processing power but would likely notice the extra battery life - 1080p (full HD) screen - good for watching movies as well as seeing more detail while editing photos - 15.6 inch screen - I use my laptop primarily at home so portability wasn't the greatest concern and learned that scaling from a full HD screen worked well at this screen size, added benefit of a number pad on the keyboard - relatively lightweight for when I do find myself editing photos on the road - since I don't game on my computer, intel integrated graphics would work fine and I didn't want to pay for a discrete graphics card.
Looking around I struggled to find a laptop that met these specs. It seemed that a full HD screen and the latest generation processer cost in the $1000 + range which is more then I wanted to spend if possible. Finally this laptop appeared on the Lenovo website for $679 and I made the plunge despite the complete lack of reviews.
My Review: Screen -The screen on the configuration I got meets the 1080p requirement and the extra detail is noticeable compared to my old 1366 * 788 screen. The viewing angles appear to be OK but this is clearly not an IPS screen as there is a drop off in brightness as you move from center.
Speakers - The speaker placement is on the bottom which I thought was weird. Despite this, the volume level seems louder then I have seen previously seen from a laptop. It isn't the fullest sound and there isn't a ton of base, but really what can you expect from a laptop. Due to the placement it is considerably better sounding on a table then on your lap.
Keyboard - The keys have a contour to them which looks like it would be nice to type on but in reality I did not notice a difference. The bumps on the home keys stick out a good amount and make it very easy to find your position. While typing there is a bit of spring as you press keys. The backlighting looks good in person and was a nice surprise since I didn't see it in the feature list.
Track Pad - the right and left click buttons are part of the track pad which I found very off-putting at first. I am used to physical click buttons and used to rest my thumb on the button before clicking. This causes the mouse to jump around I thought I was having driver issues. I am still getting used to it and I could see this continuing to bother me
Design - The laptop looks pretty sleek as you pull it out of the box with its thin, slightly wedge like disign. Unfortunately, the dark outside attracts finger prints. The area around the keyboard looks very sleek with the brushed aluminum finish. There is a slight ridge on the front which contours to thumb of finger and makes it very easy to open the laptop. At under 5 lbs this laptop is one of the lightest available which will be nice when I find myself transporting it
Performance - A SSD cache would have been nice to speed up performance a bit but even without it this laptop is very snappy. I plan on installing a SSD in the next couple months and will move the existing drive into the optical bay. I will update this review with a how to once I carry this out.
I love this thing. Good build quality, fast, whisper quiet, 1080p. For me it's perfect - I needed a machine that would spend 95% of its life not moving off of my desk, hooked to two external monitors for development and design. If you want an on-the-go laptop, you might want to get something smaller.
It runs (K)Ubuntu 13.10 like a dream (and I imagine it would be the same for any 3.11+ kernel). Wireless chip is intel so no worries there. To my surprise it'll actually run 2 external monitors and the laptop screen at the same time, at least under linux. I replaced the DVD drive with a generic 9.5mm caddy and a SSD, using it for / and /home and putting big stuff on the 1TB drive. Crazy fast. My only quibble under Linux is when it first boots to the login screen (in <10 secs) the brightness is at 0, so it looks like the laptop screen isn't on. The brightness keys work and it's a quick fix, but it threw me at first. I haven't bothered looking for a fix yet. Beyond that minor quibble, everything just works.
My only real complaint is the battery is internal. If you want to replace the battery, prepare to break out your tools. Getting inside the case is pretty easy though. I'm not knocking a star because I should have noticed that on the Lenovo site.