Lenovo's ThinkPad line is synonymous with business class, but the company's newer IdeaPad series tries to fly coach. In fact, Lenovo's sub-US$1000 IdeaPad Y510 vaults into the upper reaches of our most recent all-purpose laptops chart, largely on the strength of its design smarts.
The Y510's firm, responsive keyboard doesn't bow to fingertip pressure--this is a good thing, since you don't want your keyboard to dip as you type. The well-designed case has thick hinges that let you position the display at the best viewing angle. The laptop's rock-solid construction extends to a hard carbon-textured display cover. It feels durable like its bigger brother, the ThinkPad.
Lenovo piled lots of extras into this $900 notebook: A capable Web cam sits atop the display and works well with the included facial recognition software. The Dolby speakers deliver good high and midrange tones, and an integrated subwoofer blows strong bass from below the unit.
A host of touch-sensitive shortcut buttons line the wide keyboard, and a handy Novo button serves as a one-touch power management tool. The Novo button isn't quite as handy as the ThinkVantage button/software suite used in models such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X300, but it's not bad. The unit's roomy 250GB hard drive is another plus.
Still, the laptop's 1.66-GHz Core 2 Duo T5450 Intel CPU delivered only middling performance, earning a score of 70 on WorldBench 6. The Y510 will handle basic computing tasks, but it's no speed demon.
The Y510 also posted an average mark for battery life, surviving for 3 hours, 42 minutes on a single charge. Interestingly, this Lenovo matches the Acer Aspire 5920-6954 almost step-for-step, despite costing about $100 less.
The Y510's 1200-by-800-pixel resolution display is marred by a screen that's more mirror than monitor. Even after I cranked the display's brightness setting to its maximum, my reflection remained visible because of the glare.
Despite the display dilemma, this model represents a solid effort by Lenovo to court a more consumer-centric audience. The Y510 delivers a nice array of multimedia features for a good price.