on April 23, 2009
For the money, you get a good combination of features and a solid machine. I actually bought mine at Fry's for $599.
Before buying this computer, I had an HP laptop that I bought about a year and a half ago and the motherboard just died. The same thing happened to a friend of mine with an HP laptop. My mom also had an HP laptop and the hard drive failed after just a few months. I no longer trust HP. When I brought it into the shop they said they had a very high opinion of Levono machines. They told me they rarely came in for repairs, and they were built well. They don't sell computers, so I felt it to be an unbiased opinion.
This machine has performed well so far. It's fast, the sound is good quality for a laptop (much better than HP, though my wife has a Dell and it has better sound quality than this Lenovo). However, it doesn't get very loud. We can crank up te volume on my wife's Dell and it's loud enough to dance to, plus it doesn't sound tinny. This Lenovo doesn't sound tinny, but it's hard to take the tiny "subwoofer" seriously. There is not much bass.
There are a few annoying things about this computer.
First, there are rubber nubs on the inside surface to keep the thing from slamming shut too hard when you close it. Unfortunately, they lie right under your wrists or the heels of your hands, and they're not soft. Eventually, they can get downright uncomfortable. Why don't they figure this kind of thing out before it goes to market? All they needed to do was to space these a bit farther from the center. I shaved them off with an X-acto knife. You could use a razor blade. That took care of the discomfort. There are two more nubs on the sides, and hopefully they'll be good enough. Alternatively, you could stick on some of those clear rubbery things (little adhesive nubs) more toward the front corners - that is, lateral to where they currently are.
The next annoyance is the placement of the Ctrl key. Some people maybe don't use this key much, but I use it all the time to cut and paste (ctrl+C / ctrl+x and ctrl+v). I also use it all the time to open new tabs in Firefox (ctrl+T). I expect it to be at the bottom left and it isn't there -- the function key is there instead. Over and over and over again, I block some text, and mistakenly hit Fn+C to copy it and end up replacing the text with the letter C!
Another annoyance is for people who like to use the End key. When I'm typing, I use the End key rather frequently to jump to the end of the line. Maybe most people don't use it, so Lenovo decided you can only access this function by pressing the Fn key.
The last minor design flaw, in my opinion, is that the keyboard and touchpad are very close to the front edge of the machine. There's plenty of room "above" the keyboard. If only the whole thing could be pushed and inch closer to the screen, there'd be some room to rest your hands more comfortably while typing/mousing. If you're doing some mouse-based activity, your hand is entirely off the machine except your finger and thumb.
Some people have complained about the inability to deactivate the Veriface function (which, indeed, makes start up very slow). Don't bother with Veriface - it's a gimmick. Just use a password if you want to keep people out of your computer. Anyway, though, all you have to do is go to the Veriface settings and un-check the box that enables it to run every time Windows resumes.
Finally, I was reluctant to get a machine that runs Vista. I love XP, largely because I know it so well. I feel like I can do anything in XP and I know where everything is. I planned to buy this computer and wipe the hard drive and install XP. But before buying it, I decided to make sure there would be XP based drivers available. I don't know what the previous reviewer is talking about. I could not find drivers for XP on the Lenovo site. Maybe they're available and I missed them. So I started playing around with Vista and I began to feel it was less of an issue. Some of what I disliked was just a matter of getting familiar with a new OS and figuring out where everything is. It definitely helps, if you like previous versions of Windows, to switch things to "Classic View." People complain that Vista eats up your memory and slows down the computer, but this thing has a plenty fast processor and 4 GB of RAM. I haven't felt it's been a problem. If you're concerned, shut down some of the bells and whistles. If you have a bunch of gadgets running, constantly updating your weather and retrieving headlines and the stock ticker and running a slide show of pictures of your kids, this will slow things down a little. You can easily disable many of the memory-gobbling settings. But maybe what made me most willing to live with Vista is that it's not so prone to viruses, spyware, and hacks as XP is. My previous computers would get so congested by all the crap they accumulated. I'd run Ad Aware, Spybot Search and Destroy, AVG, Malware Bytes, ComboFix, etc. on a regular basis to keep my machine clean. So far, this system has been bullet proof. But, by the way, it comes with Norton, which, in my experience is not one of the better antivirus utilities. Get AVG for free. Or Kaspersky if you don't mind paying for it.
on March 18, 2009
This is my second Lenovo notebook. The first one was a ThinkPad R61 which I liked very much. It got stolen out of the back of my car. So, liking the Lenovo product, I bought a new one. The product I am reviewing is similar to the "item being reviewed," the main differences being.
Lenovo is the company which manufactured IBM's laptop computers. IBM's laptops were designed for business users. They were tough enough to be dragged around everywhere. It continues to make laptop computers which are more road friendly than the competition, even in this unit which is "home user" oriented. On most of the competition's laptop computers for school and home use, you can twist the lid/screen and there is a good deal of flex. Not so here. This means the screen is less likely to get damaged or cracked. The rest of the case similarly has little flex which means it is better built. While the keyboard is not up to the quality of the ThinkPad line, it is still very good and does not have much flex or bend when you type on it. It is a bit heavy weighing in at over 6 lbs, but it is worth it to me when I consider that it is less likely to break.
XP Drivers available on-line:
The Y530 comes with Vista Home Premium. Mine has the 64 bit o/s. I hate Vista. It is bloated, slow, overly intrusive, the Start Menu was modified poorly from XP, it is cumbersome to find any administrative tools and it does not work with many pieces of business software. When Microsoft updates their operating systems, it seems that only their software works on the newer o/s. WordPerfect X3 (the better word processor!), Paperport, Legal Solutions and many older game programs simply won't work properly, even when you tell the system to run it in XP mode. This, I suspect, is the reason about 75% of the business computers still run XP.
Vista Ultimate and Business come with downgrade rights to XP. Here, no such rights exist; HOWEVER, Lenovo provides drivers and software on line so you can load XP!!! (XP is faster than Vista and runs everything I need!) I will be downgrading.
I get the following benchmarks with Vista:
Performance Test 6.1: 525.7
PC Wizard (not valid because of 64 bit o/s) = 2047
3DMark 01 = 5193
3DMark 03 = 2269
3DMark 05 = 1199
3DMark 06 = 905
SuperPI calculation of PI to 1M places takes 29.25 seconds.
In short, this machine is not as fast as my 2 year old XP based desktop which has a 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo with 2G of memory, an ATI All In Wonder X800XL video card on a Gigabyte 965G-DS3 motherboard running XP. This box is not up to speed for modern gamers. It has good speed as a home entertainment and business/school oriented system. An O/S downgrade to XP would no doubt give you an extra 10% or so of speed.
Appearance and Functionality:
Lenovo still goes with the industrial black look. The outside is plain dull black which is textured so as to make it easier to grip. None of the high gloss colored plastic stuff that is on so many HPs and Dells and Sony Vaios.
Inside, you get a piano black high gloss plastic surrounding the 15.4" screen. The hinge is in the back of the machine, and rather than clamp the screen on the top of the box, the lid is bent and wraps around the computer/keyboard/electronics bottom section. The keyboard is surrounded by a single piece of brushed metal with a black touch sensitive multimedia controls above the keyboard and an orange volume control on the right side of the touch controls.
The box contains five speakers, including an alleged subwoofer which fires downward under the computer. I would look at the Toshibas with the HK speaker systems for a better audio performance.
It comes with a multi-card reader slot, dual layer dvd/CD writer, HDMI output, VGA output, 3 USB ports, modem, ethernet port, built in WIFI, Dolby Digital sound system, microphone and 1.3 megapixel camera in the lid. It includes Veriface software which allows the computer to enter your log-on password using just your image. The Veriface software is very sensitive, and works only from the right distance and at the same angle. It does not seem to be available on XP.
Unlike HP, the keyboard has no angle to it, so you are typing on a slightly uncomfortable surface if you have it on a desk or table. There are four small rubber pieces which protect the screen when the lid is closed. Two are right under your wrists and my writs rub against them unless I wear a long sleve shirt. It comes with Vista and a trial version of Norton Anti-virus, which I find ineffective and annoying.
The high gloss screen is a little too high gloss and too reflective under certain circumstances.
Based on the price to performance ratio, excelent build quality and availability of XP drivers on line, I would not hesitate to purchase this unit again.