The IdeaPad Y550 is a 15.6" multimedia notebook from Lenovo offered in a mix of affordable and high-end configurations. The top of the list system options include an Intel Core i7 processor and NVIDIA GT 240M dedicated graphics while more affordable systems include standard Core 2 Duo processors and integrated graphics. In this review we look at a model equipped with the Intel T6400 processor and Intel X4500 integrated graphics.
Our Lenovo IdeaPad Y550 Specifications:
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y550 has a modern design with a sleek shape and a rather pronounced contrasting color scheme. The exterior view of the Y550 when closed is thin and flat with a thick orange trim piece breaking up the two black halves on the notebook. From a distance the outside color of the screen cover appears to be matte black, but looking at it closer it is actually a faintly embossed surface. This particular design is an overlapping honey-comb finish that gives the notebook a nice subtle look while also giving it a light texture. The inside is a combination of a glossy black and metallic grey with chrome accented speakers and white LED-backlit controls. I really think that the Lenovo design staff has to hold so much back when building ThinkPad models that they really go all out with the IdeaPad series.
Screen and Speakers
The WXGA display on the Y550 appears to be the highest resolution offered on this model. Even the better configurations are limited to 1366x768. This is lacking when compared to the Dell Studio 15 that can be configured with a 1080p panel in configurations starting at less than $800. The panel offers good color and contrast, ranking middle of the pack compared to most notebooks. Black levels are good at low and middle backlight levels, but show some backlight creep near 100%. Peak brightness levels are great for viewing in bright office conditions with a comfortable home viewing level somewhere between 60 and 70%. Viewing angles appear average with colors showing significant inversion in as little as 10 degrees when tilted back. Horizontal viewing angles look much better, showing no notable color shift even when viewing from the very edge of the screen.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y550 has above average sounding speakers, making use of two primary speakers up top and a subwoofer below. Listening to music and movies the speakers have good midrange and bass, but is still weak compared to other notebooks with dedicated subwoofers. Peak volume levels sound strong enough to be listened to in a small or mid-size room, but not loud enough to over-power a lot of background noise. For watching feature-length movies in large rooms the HDMI-port is a great way to pass digital audio over to a home theater system.
The keyboard is comfortable to type on and has a pretty solid typing surface. Transitioning to this keyboard from my ThinkPad was no problem, especially since the key action felt very similar. The only tactile difference I found between this keyboard and the ThinkPad keyboard is the key shape; the ThinkPad keys have a more "cupped" feel to them.
The Y550 has a spacious Synaptics touchpad with a very nice texture. While some notebook manufacturers might carry the glossy palmrest surface onto the touchpad, Lenovo breaks it up with a barely-bumpy texture that is easier to slide over. Out of the box it was hard to slide across and almost tacky from the multitouch sticker over it, but with some oil build-up over the first few hours it broke in perfectly. Sensitivity is great out of the box... requiring only a light touch to move the cursor across the screen. Lag is not present under any circumstance including very fast movement. The touchpad buttons have a long throw and emit a mild click when fully pressed.
Ports and Features
Port selection is adequate although I feel there was enough room left unused to account for an additional USB port. The Lenovo IdeaPad Y550 offers two USB ports, one eSATA/USB combo port, VGA and HDMI ports, Ethernet, and audio jacks. Expansion slots include an ExpressCard/34 slot and SDHC-card slot.
Lenovo also includes a number of touch-sensitive and click-style buttons around the keyboard to control quick access functions. The standard buttons include one to switch video modes, another to load the Dolby audio control panel, and audio switches to adjust volume and mute the speakers. A blinking slider bar in the middle lets you quickly access four pre-set Lenovo applications.
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