by Kevin O'Brien
The IdeaPad Y530 is a multimedia notebook from Lenovo with surround speakers and subwoofer, HDMI out, touch-sensitive media controls, and a "frameless" display panel. With a wide range of multimedia features this notebook is aimed at dorm rooms or even acting as the media hub for a home theater system. Priced at $999, just how well does the Lenovo IdeaPad Y530 stand up against the competition in a pretty packed market segment?
Lenovo IdeaPad Y530 Specifications:
Build and Design
The IdeaPad Y530 has a very low-key design with an all-black shell similar to the ThinkPad notebooks. On closer inspection the black surface has a crosshatch pattern for mild styling and easy gripping. Inside the notebook the black exterior changes to a glossy black surface that surrounds the screen which blends with the touch sensitive media control bar. The palmrest and keyboard bezel is one solid piece of brushed metal, trimmed with black plastic. I really like the clean look and consistent color scheme which some notebook manufacturers sometime overlook.
Build quality is excellent with a very rugged feel for a consumer notebook. When closed the Y530 feels as sturdy as a hard cover book with very little flex in the screen cover under strong pressure. The body gives the notebook a great deal of support and the plastics used feel rugged enough to withstand regular day-to-day abuse without showing much for wear. The brushed metal palmrest surface is fairly rigid, even near the perforated holes that expose the main speakers. The only area that could see some mild improvement is the keyboard which shows some flex under heavy typing pressure.
The bottom of the notebook features easy access for upgrading system parts that include the RAM, wireless card, graphics card, processor, and hard drive. In our review unit the ram, processor, and wireless card all had small stickers placed over the screws or clips, but they did not appear to be security stickers.
The WXGA panel on the Lenovo Y530 rates average with vibrant colors, evenly lit bright backlighting, and good contrast. Vertical viewing angles were typical with a narrow sweet spot where colors are accurate before distorting as you move the screen forward or back. Horizontal viewing angles were slightly better, although instead of distorting, the screen would just fade out and all you could see was the reflection coming off of the "frameless" screen.
While some could say this is a privacy feature, it was more of an annoyance if you were trying to show someone sitting next to you something on the screen with a bright light source (window, lamp) next to you. In brightly lit rooms you also get lots of things reflecting off of the screen, including your face as you sit in front of the notebook. Some people might get annoyed by the reflections while others might take that compromise for the seamless look of the front panel. It is best to check one “all-glass” panels out in person before you purchase a notebook that has it.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is designed much like the style used on the ThinkPad series, with a few changes. The layout is more like a consumer notebook, with a single row of function keys, instead of the two rows found on the ThinkPad business notebooks. The keyboard was comfortable to type on with perfect key size and spacing. Each key had a slight metallic clicking sound with soft feedback when pressed. While it isn’t the loudest keyboard we have seen on a notebook it does rank up towards the top.
The touch sensitive media bar located above the keyboard gives quick access to media controls and with a press of a button switches to sound profile options to change the equalizer.
The Synaptics-based touchpad is very large, much bigger than those found on the ThinkPad series; and very comfortable to use. Sensitivity was good, accurately tracking your finger movement with little pressure on the surface. The semi-gloss touchpad surface was easy to move your finger across even when sweaty, while still providing a small amount of traction. The touchpad buttons gave excellent feedback when pressed, with a deep throw and soft click. This goes against the grain for consumer notebooks with most only using shallow feedback “clicking” buttons.
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