Defining lines which used to divide multimedia and gaming notebooks are fast beginning to blur these days. Lenovo's Y-series is one fine example. Built for performance and offering a substantial bang for buck, the Y550P is wedged under the IdeaPad tab with an attitude to go. Equipped with a robust Core i7 processor and discrete graphics, this mobile rig comes with mixed priorities such as light gaming and HD video playback. By comparison, Lenovo's U-series actually looks rather inferior with its less competent CULV processors. Anyhow, here's what we think of Lenovo's Y child.
This 15.6-inch entertainment notebook cuts a dark and handsome figure with its patterned lid and orange accents. It's on the slightly heavier side with its 2.75kg weight, though it is still portable enough to cart around. Besides the illuminated IdeaPad logo found on the wrist rest, Lenovo has also added a distinctive touch with a row of LED strips situated on the notebook's lip.
Other perks include a bright and vibrant LCD display (LED-backlit). Nevertheless, the 1366 by 768 screen estate does come across as a little constricted for a 15-inch. The keys are comfortable to type on given their generous pitch, though Lenovo hasn't jumped onto the 'chiclet' keyboard design here like so many other vendors. The keys however do emanate a rather cheap feel on the whole.
Ports-wise, the Y550P has three USB 2.0 connectors to offer, including a USB/SATA combo. As a multimedia laptop, it’s customary to find a 1080p-capable HDMI port as part of its offerings, which is useful if you prefer to enjoy your movies on a larger TV screen. If you like your music clean and loud, the twin JBL drivers and single woofer should be sufficient to keep you entertained.
The SlideNav, or touch-sensitive bar found above the keyboard, is a little finicky to manage after we've given it a go. To navigate, we'd recommend using the touchpad instead. While some of the pre-installed software are useful such as Lenovo's OneKey Rescue System for data backups or recovery, you might want to spend a few minutes getting rid of the rest of the bloatware you have little need for.
The IdeaPad's humble $1,899 price did not seem adequate for its hardware. As mentioned, we were fairly surprised to find a Core i7-720QM (1.6GHz) workhorse and a mid-range GT240M GPU in this competitively priced package. Equipped with a 500GB hard disk and 4GB DDR3 system memory, the IdeaPad blazed away on the benchmarks with a PCMark Vantage score of 5,664 and a 3DMark06 result of 7,709.
Of course, it was no match for the expensive Sony VAIO Z which carried a 620M (2.66GHz) Core i7 variant and a rather extreme amount (8GB) of DDR3 memory. The VAIO Z finished with a PCMark Vantage score of 10,976. But for all its hardware, the Y550P was sorely let down by a middling battery pack which lasted 93 minutes on our DVD playback test. So be sure to bring along that power brick when you're on the move.
To wrap things up, the Y550P is a reliable machine in the performance and audio arena without a doubt, although Lenovo might want to consider spending a bit more money and effort on the notebook's build quality. As much as the IdeaPad is a convincing multimedia rig with a competitive price, it could have been a better laptop with a bigger and higher display resolution and a more enduring battery life. If you can overlook these shortfalls, then sure, go ahead. This idea shouldn't come with too many regrets.