by Jerry Jackson
The IdeaPad Y650 is a multimedia notebook from Lenovo with a beautiful 16-inch screen, HDMI out, a giant touchpad with multi-touch controls, and enough power and storage to serve as your primary family PC. With a thin (almost MacBook-like) appearance and a starting price of $1,299, how does the Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 stand up against the competition? Keep reading and we'll let you know.
Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 Specifications:
Build and Design
The IdeaPad Y650 has an all-new look compared to previous IdeaPad notebooks. As part of the new IdeaPad refresh earlier this year, the Y650 distinguishes itself as being one of the thinnest and lightest laptops in its class. In fact, the Y650 weighs less than the old Y530 15-inch laptop (5.8 pounds vs. 6.65 pounds as tested). Making use of thin metal, solid plastics, and even carbon fiber, Lenovo engineered this 16-inch laptop to be as thin and light as possible. The matte black exterior looks extremely classy. Inside the notebook the black exterior changes to a glossy white surface that surrounds the keyboard and touchpad. The massive palmrests (more on that later) provide excellent support with minimal flex. Overall, the design is very clean and gives the Apple MacBook a run for the money at first glance.
Build quality is excellent with a very rugged feel for a consumer multimedia notebook. When closed the Y650 feels almost as sturdy as the business-class ThinkPad notebooks with very little flex in the screen cover under strong pressure. On closer inspection of the lid, the matte black surface has a honeycomb pattern for subtle styling and easy gripping thanks to the rubberized paint. The body gives the notebook a great deal of support and the combination of metal and plastics used feel rugged enough to withstand regular day-to-day abuse without showing much wear. 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 the battery and an all-in-one bottom plate that must be removed in order to upgrade the RAM, hard drive, or replace any additional components. On one hand, this makes it easy to access the entire motherboard to make upgrades or repairs, but it also means Y650 owners have to remove 20 screws if they want to upgrade their notebook.
Unlike most notebooks that feature an optical drive (DVD/CD drive) located on the side of the notebook, Lenovo decided to move the optical drive to the front of the Y650. On the bright side, this means right-handed mouse users won't have to worry about the drive getting in the way. However, if you often use your notebook as a "laptop" this means the drive pops out into your crotch.
The 16-inch panel on the Lenovo Y650 rates above average with vibrant colors and excellent contrast. The LED backlighting in our review unit is slightly uneven in the upper right corner, but that's not entirely uncommon for larger notebook screens. Horizontal viewing angles are extremely good, so you won't have any trouble sharing a movie with a friend or two. Upper vertical viewing angles are above average since the colors don't wash out when viewed from above, but colors do begin to distort and invert as you move the screen back.
If there is any potential negative about this screen it's that the 16:9 ratio means you lose some vertical resolution. Most 15-inch laptop screens with a 16:10 ratio have a resolution of 1280x800 compared to the screen on the Y650 which has a resolution of 1366x768. This means you can fit more on the screen from left to right, but the screen is actually smaller from top to bottom.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the Y650 is quite unusual compared to the keyboards on most large multimedia notebooks. As notebooks get larger they usually end up using progressively larger keyboards, some that even include dedicated number pads like a traditional desktop keyboard. Lenovo decided to take a distinctly different approach and use a smaller keyboard in order to make more room available for a massive multi-touch touchpad.
As a result, the keyboard on the Y650 is roughly the same size as the keyboard you expect to find on a 14-inch or 13-inch laptop. This provides much more room for the touchpad, but it has the unfortunate side effect of turning the palmrests into armrests. The position of the keyboard is so far back that your forearms end up resting where your palms normally would. These "armrests" are so large I almost expected to find a built-in cup holder.
Despite the size of the keyboard relative to the rest of the notebook, the keyboard is quite comfortable to type on with reasonable key size and spacing. There is some flex when heavy typing pressure is applied, but overall this is a fine keyboard.
The touch sensitive media bar located above the keyboard gives quick access to EasyCapture (webcam controls), ReadyComm (wireless connectivity manager), VeriFace (facial recognition software), and OneKey (back up and recovery software).
The Synaptics-based touchpad is very large--much bigger than those found on previous IdeaPads--and very comfortable to use. Sensitivity is good, accurately tracking finger movement with little pressure on the surface. The matte white touchpad surface is easy to move your finger across while still providing a small amount of traction. The multi-touch gestures (such as zoom in and zoom out) are easy to use, but these multi-touch gesture controls have limited use until more software (including Windows) recognizes the gestures. The touchpad buttons have excellent feedback with a deep throw but they do produce a rather loud "click" when pressed.
Ports and Features
The port selection proved to be a little underwhelming with this laptop. Lenovo's engineers had to make some sacrifices in order to make the Y650 as thin and light as possible. This means the Y650 only has two USB ports, a smaller ExpressCard/34 slot rather than a larger ExpressCard/54 expansion slot, and no FireWire. Lenovo was kind enough to put an eSATA port on this notebook, but it would have been more impressive if they used an eSATA/USB combo port so that users could have a third USB port if they needed it.
Right: 6-in-1 card reader, USB, Headphone/Mic, eSATA, ExpressCard/34, Ethernet, Kensington Lock slot
Speakers and Audio
The IdeaPad Y650 offers a pair of JBL-branded speakers that produce some extremely nice sound. The 2-watt stereo speakers have plenty of range and are free from any distortions until you increase the volume levels to near the maximum limit. The speaker don't have the chest thumping bass you expect from notebooks equipped with a subwoofer, but it's hard to complain about the quality of these speakers considering how light and thin this notebook is compared to most 16-inch and 17-inch notebooks.
more than 100 focused websites providing quick access to a deep store of
news, advice and analysis about the technologies, products and processes crucial
to the jobs of IT pros.
All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2000 - 2013, TechTarget | Read our Privacy Statement