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Lap it up

Lap it up
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First Published: Tue, Jun 26 2007. 11 47 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Jun 26 2007. 11 47 PM IST
At a time when the market is flooded with multimedia laptops, a new entrant, the Lenovo 3000 Y series, positions itself as a business computer that combines the best of multimedia offerings. Mint takes a look at the top-end Y500.
It looks sturdy, but does give you the feeling of being too bulky. There are many excellent multimedia laptops in the market that boast similar features but still look more compact. Lenovo may have missed a trick here. The keypad is large, as is the space around it. Only if the Y500 could lose some flab, it would have been a far more appealing device.
There are four USB ports in addition to the usual networking and PC card slots. But serial ports, which are disappearing from most laptops, are missing on the Y500, too. The top of the laptop has a button for the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and a “Bass” button for the audio. This is a rather strange combination and the buttons appear to be wrongly placed since they are accessible even when the laptop lid is shut. This, of course, when there is an entire top panel of controls above the keyboard for multimedia functions.
With a silver body and running on Intel Centrino Duo, the Y500 is a powerful machine and has direct access buttons to most multimedia functions once you are in the “Lenovo Shuttle Center”. The Shuttle Center is Lenovo’s answer to Mac’s Front Row and while it lacks the finish and finesse of the Apple product, it gets the job done.
The Y500 is powerful: This is a computer that can really handle multimedia requirements. The Shuttle Center takes care of video playback, music library access, photo gallery and also lets you use the built-in TV Tuner card to watch, program and even record television programmes.
The interface of the Shuttle Center is fairly user-friendly, with good customization options and built-in Dolby Home Theatre. Unfortunately, the volume level of the speakers is not the best and one has to struggle to hear audio in noisy environs.
The Y500 also incorporates a slot-in disc drive that removes the need for a tray. You can simply slide in a disc, like bread in a toaster. Compared with a number of other laptops, the Y500 boasts of superior picture quality, complementing its claims of the laptop being a multimedia machine.
More than just being a multimedia PC, the Y500 is also a high-security computer implementing Lenovo’s new “Biometric Face Recognition” sign-in procedure. Simple to set up and almost always accurate, you need to “register” your face using the inbuilt camera (placed above the screen) and every time you want to log on, it will lock on to your face and sign you in. The face recognition technology takes a digital snapshot, extracts key features of the user’s face, and creates a digital map, which is then used to log the user to the system.
However, one wishes the computer manufacturing industry would come together soon and sorted out one major issue: the position of the home/end/page up/page down buttons. It’s not life threatening, but every time a user changes a laptop or has to handle another one, the changed positions of these buttons can cause some frustration as it involves a learning curve, however minor
Once again, with the Y500, the positions have been altered, compared with the standard positions on a desktop keyboard. In the Lenovo, these are placed on the top right of the keypad.
Y500’s Wi-Fi capabilities are pretty good, too. It caught a lot of the networks and didn’t lose the signal.
Running Windows XP, it performed very well with good battery life on a full charge and enabled one to watch a two-hour movie and then some more. The 1.3-megapixel camera is a good addition and the placement is convenient. The more one uses this computer, the easier it becomes to—get used to and one does not want to move away.
Going out on a limb and comparing it with the features of a MacBook, the Lenovo Y500 seems to be the only laptop that comes closest to it. But, as mentioned earlier, it lacks the finesse of the Mac (as well as the latter’s price tag).
In all fairness, though, this is a well-constructed laptop and one that one could plan on holding on to for a long time. There are six variations available, with prices ranging from Rs31,990 to Rs68,990.
The value for money is good though it may not be the best bet if one is looking for a compact machine. It is, however, a terrific buy if one needs to combine work and play (more like a SoHo set-up).
Cost: Rs 31,990-Rs 68,990
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First Published: Tue, Jun 26 2007. 11 47 PM IST
More Topics: Business of Life | Gadgets |