Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Y650

Lenovo’s new IdeaPad Y650 hardly has a flaw. Its Apple-esque chassis is loaded with decent components and it even excels (gasp!) at video playback. The only real stumble is an obnoxious low-battery warning tone (we’ll get into how horrible that feature later). But let’s focus on the good stuff first.

Lenovo didn’t skimp on styling the Y650. The coated lid has a rubberized, fingerprint-proof hex-pattern that adds confidence to your grip. When it’s opened, the machine offers up an uncluttered, MacBook-esque design. Lenovo even added a melodic startup jingle that’s about as soothing as a unicorn ride. The trackpad is multitouch, but its skills are limited to scaling images or web pages up and down. The single design boo-boo is the the moiré pattern on the speaker grill, which gives a slightly smudgy look to the Lenovo’s facade.

This IdeaPad hosts a respectable spec set, with a 2.53-GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 320-GB hard drive, and a big 16-inch screen (upsetting 15.4 as the new black). But no Blu-ray; the Lenovo comes with only a DVD burner. HDMI, eSATA, a multicard reader, ExpressCard, and two USB ports line the sides of the machine as well. The Nvidia GeForce G105M graphics don’t exactly blaze, but the unit did get an average 109 frames per second in our Quake 4 test. Battery life is 1:50, but that’s not bad, considering the lightweight battery (the whole rig weighs just 5.6 pounds).

But during the battery rundown, we uncovered the laptop’s most egregious flaw: a warning tone that’s ear-splitting and tonally on par with a smoke alarm. This high-decibel beep occurs when you insert or remove the power cord and when the battery is about to go kaput. Unfortunately, this happened at about 5 a.m., waking the neighbors, making local dogs howl and we’re pretty sure it spoiled the milk in a few of the dairy cows across the county line.

If it weren’t for the abominable warning tone, this would be an excellent notebook. It’s reasonably priced and sharp looking, with decent power — and it’s fantastic for watching film. But unless you have a deep desire to get fitted for a hearing aid, there are other, better lappies that won’t crush your cochleae.

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