Ah, how things have changed. I remember when "Made in Japan" was a synonym for "Piece of Crap." Now two hybrid cars from the land of the rising sun, a Toyota Prius and a Highlander, are our trouble-free transportation.
And China? It used to be several large rungs below Japan in the quality category. Just a few years ago I never would have guessed that my new laptop would say "Made in China" on the bottom of it.
But it does. I just bought one of the first U.S. computers that are newly available in Lenovo's "IdeaPad" lineup. As I noted about a month ago, India had the cool IdeaPad Y510 first.
I was envious. It didn't take long, though, for the IdeaPad lineup to come on sale here. I got my 15 inch laptop from TigerDirect, which also is selling the Y710, a 17 inch powerhouse – especially the high end model.
It's been a pleasant two days with my new Chinese friend. We've communicated well, aside from a few mild language surprises when I perused the Y510 setup poster. Such as:
To bring you more convenience and make a better use of your computer, Lenovo provides a package of helpful software at purchase time.
When your computer comes with malfunction, OneKey Recovery restores the C drive to default status.
The illustrations in this manual may differ from the actual product, please take the actual product as standard when you purchase.
Nothing that I can't understand. Yet how much trouble would it be for a Lenovo employee in China to email a draft of the setup poster to a U.S. colleague for a last minute language check?
That minor quibble aside, so far I like the Y510.
It's got the same great keyboard as my IBM ThinkPad Z60m (Lenovo bought IBM's personal computer division, but is continuing to use the IBM name for a while until people get used to the well-regarded ThinkPad as coming from China.)
The sound quality is far superior, though. The best I've heard from a laptop. I usually have to strain to hear the sound from DVDs on my ThinkPad, but when I used the Y510 to take a look at a dance instruction video that just came in the mail, the maxed-out volume was almost too loud for comfort.
The "infinity" screen is a bit of a disappointment, since it doesn't actually go all the way to the edge of the frame (it just lacks a bevel, or whatever the plastic thingie is called on most laptops).
And I'm having to get used to some Windows Vista Home Premium eccentricities after being familiar with XP Professional. For some reason it has this thing about wanting me to repeatedly confirm that I'm really myself when I try to change some system setting, even though I already logged in as Brian the Exalted Administrator.
Still, that doesn't bother me a whole lot because I've decided to embrace the love-hate relationship that I have with Windows.
I had an Apple II+ way back and stuck with Macintoshes for a long time. Then I crossed over to the Microsoft dark side and haven't returned. I thought about jumping to a Mac this laptop purchase time around, but decided that it's better to stick with the enemy I know, than the enemy I don't.
Meaning, I have friends and family with Macs, and their computing experience isn't trouble-free either. So I felt more comfortable getting a laptop that has familiar operating system quirks, recognizing that I might well be suffering from the Stockholm syndrome.
Hurt me more, Windows. It feels so good.
I haven't installed the package of helpful software that I got at purchase time. After I do, I'll have the option of using my face as a log-on via face recognition software and the built-in webcam.
Somehow I don't think that I'll want to look at a close-up of myself first thing in the morning when I turn on my computer. Still, it's a neat security feature.
Bottom line: check out the IdeaPad line if you're looking for a new laptop. The U.S. trade balance with China is already way out of whack, so you might as well have a Chinese computer in your home, along with tube socks.
(For more information, here's a video and the technical specifications.)
Update: Just thought of a few other likes and dislikes. Like: the lack of annoying trial software. So far I've only had to uninstall Norton Antivirus, because I use SystemSuite 8 as a competent all-in-one security/maintenance package. I appreciate having a trial of Office 2007, since I'll probably end up buying it.
Dislike, sort of: the reflective screen, which is coffee shop unfriendly if overhead lights abound. The matte screen on my ThinkPad shows a fuzzy oval when I point it toward my office ceiling light; the Y510 IdeaPad reflects the light annoyingly clearly. Wish Lenovo offered an option on the screen, but I'll probably get used to it.
What a great and honest review! I actually ordered the Y510 today after hearing about it for the first time. I was actually a bit sketchy. A good friend of mine had told me about an Office Depot sale today, the Y510 was going for $528 (or so). I immediately researched it online and found out about it's specs and that it was an IBM brand. I was immediately pleased, it definitely beats the HP/Compaq dv2700t that I wanted to buy for $2,216. Office Depot is giving me the laptop with the 2 GB of RAM, 250 GB of storage that I wanted in that HP, including the integrated webcam, Dolby Sound System, etc, etc. This is just such a great buy. I'm excited to get it!
Posted by: Kyle | February 09, 2008 at 10:41 PM
We've had our Lenovo Y510 for about two weeks. It has made us very happy - great keyboard, great sound, nice video, good battery life (o far). Really, the nicest laptop I have ever used. The last computer I bought new was an Amiga 1200 back in 1992! I'll be very happy when I get my rebates from Office Depot. Playing a DVD is just dazzling. The face recognition software works great.
Thanks for your interesting and well written review.
Posted by: David Obler | February 15, 2008 at 01:25 PM
I missed the sale at office depot... If anyone hears of such a sale again.. Please let me know! :) my email is [email protected]
Posted by: Mike | February 16, 2008 at 10:19 AM
They had them on sale for under $600 (after rebates) at the OD here in KY. I picked one up and like it a lot so far. Seems like a great buy.
Posted by: scott | February 28, 2008 at 07:21 PM
david...this laptop is still for sale at OD, but you should call today, as the $185 in rebates, end tomorrow.
Posted by: tina | February 29, 2008 at 08:59 AM
I missed the sale at Office Depot that ended March 15, 2008 for $599.99 after $185.00 in rebates. That was for the 2G Ram, 250 Gig HD, with T2330 processor. If anyone hears of this for under $600.00 again, please let me know at [email protected]
Posted by: Dennis | March 16, 2008 at 08:10 PM
Has anyone had an issue while chatting? My lenovo is great except that everone complains that they don't understand a word I say when we chat using Skype, Google Talk etc. My voice is apparently all distorted. I'm thinking of getting a replacement to see if it is some issue with the piece I have.
Posted by: sumesh | April 01, 2008 at 10:53 AM
Picked one up at OD for $499
This is a very well built and attractive notebook,especially considering the cost.Lenovo makes great products.
Posted by: Shred | May 17, 2008 at 09:27 AM
Hello friends. being in India, laptops were always a dream for common folks like me. Everything has changed now. My friend in USA is going to purchase a lenovo y 510 for me. hooray( want to know the specification of my present computer, a celeron 266 with 64 mb ram and 14 gb hdd................dont laugh..
Posted by: Pramod | June 08, 2008 at 11:05 AM