The common perception of notebooks with larger displays is that they tend to gravitate towards the big and the bulky but you'll be surprised to find that Lenovo's latest creation, the 16-inch IdeaPad Y650 easily turns this notion on the head with a slim yet sexy profile. Our prototype review unit certainly does carry this off with a little bit of grace and lots of carbon fiber.
If there's one thing that we liked so far about the unit, it's the fact that it's dressed all prettily in matte black on the outside. We were hoping to finally get a unit which would not be easily marred by fingerprints, but alas, opening the Y650 revealed that like books, you shouldn't judge one by its cover. That's right folks, the innards of the notebook beneath that matte surface are terribly glossy and unfortunately fingerprint friendly.
Now if the situation were reversed, we could have at least enjoyed a fingerprint-free inner surface. Sadly though we're stuck with what we have, but a small consolation is that smudges on the inner white surfaces aren't as obvious or as bad as we would have expected from the glossy surface.
With 16-inches of screen realty, you would expect a decently spaced keyboard for comfortable typing but this isn't the case with the Y650. Instead, you'll find that there's plenty of space to rest your wrist. It's strange to find so much space wasted, with the keyboard squashed near the screen, but at least typing on it was pleasant enough thanks to the responsive keys.
The multi-touch touchpad of the Y650 is quite possibly the strangest (or coolest) feature of the Y650. For starters, its size is surprisingly large and pretty much comparable to the newer Apple MacBooks, but unlike the MacBooks, the multi-touch on the Y650 only supports simple pinch zoom gestures. Perhaps there were other gestures and applications that made use of them, but we were unable to find out during our short time with the unit.
Powered by dual JBL speakers, the audio quality for the Y650 was definitely decent though lacking some bass support as it does not have a built-in subwoofer. Otherwise, the Y650 is definitely a worthy multimedia machine that's quite portable for its size. This is reinforced by the latest NVIDIA discrete graphics in the form of the GeForce G105M. We weren't able to get the drivers installed due to its prototype nature and Lenovo seemed to have forgotten the drivers on the default installation. NVIDIA's generic notebook driver also failed to support the Y650.
Thus, we're unable to provide you with any accurate benchmarks on the discrete graphic's performance. By all indications however, the new GeForce G105M with its eight processor cores and 64-bit memory bus should belong in the mainstream value segment, with slightly better performance than the company's GeForce 9200/9300 mobile GPUs.
Screen-wise, the unit's panel tops out at 1366 x 768, which is sufficient for watching 720p videos. It's a strange resolution indeed despite its large display. Now you're probably looking for numbers here, but we aren't able to provide them due to the unit being a prototype. Our informal battery life test showed a decent 1 hour and 36 minutes of usage, though this was marred by the fact the screen brightness was at 100 per cent and not our usual 50 per cent (this was due to the lack of driver support for the graphics).
16-inch notebooks might seem a little strange to those used to the popular 15 and 17-inch versions, but it does strike a nice balance in between. The Lenovo Y650 isn't quite the desktop replacement we are used to, not being as large or as heavy (at around 2.5kg) as one, so it potentially offers the portability of a 15-inch notebook while delivering a DTR-ish experience. While we can't really comment on the performance of this prototype unit yet, our experience with it tells us that Lenovo is onto something with this category - though we could do with a lot less gloss, if you know what we mean.