Date Joined: 07/15/03
Pros: OVERALL: The specs are obviously fantastic, especially for the price. Quite aside from being the cheapest 650M laptop, this machine has two (and it only costs you the basically useless optical drive).
DISPLAY: The display is excellent. Viewing angles are good to very good - I'm not sure if the laptop actually has an IPS panel, but if it isn't IPS/PVA/PLS it's the best TN I've ever seen.
KEYBOARD: The keyboard has a nice, solid feel and good action. Travel is nice. There's no "hidden tray" underneath it to suck up dust, which is a nice touch.
PERFORMANCE: Haven't really had a chance to run the gamut on this. I upgrade the RAM to 8 GB of major name-brand out of the box. In my machine at least, Lenovo inserted the 4 GB stick (ie, the larger stick) on the top port meaning an upgrade from 2GB-4GB for the second stick requires removing both. The laptop only has two SODIMM slots, so you're limited to 16 GB which is a slight disappointment given the weight, but not the dimensions.
INTERNAL LAYOUT: To get access to the innards you need to unscrew quite a few screws (more than 5, I think the number is 7 or 8) and life the entire rear panel off. It also doesn't like to 'snap' back into place. It was definitely a tense moment trying to pry it out of the 'snap' slots. With the battery at the top and the laptop upside down facing you, the clockwise part arrangement is CPU/GPU1 + Heatpipe (right side), 2x SODIMM Slots bottom right, Wireless card (Intel 6325 if I'm not mistaken) (middle), 1TB HDD (bottom left), GPU2 (left side). The second GPU is removable (Lenovo calls it an "Ultra Bay" - presumably some kind of advanced technology oceanic/land formation) with a switch on the bottom-center of the laptop that doesn't latch, but is flush with the bottom. It takes a *lot* of force to pry the GPU out of the slot, so while the ease of moving the switch was a little disconcerting at first, I was actually afraid I was missing some screws somewhere before I successfully pulled it out. It *does not* screw in. The HDD is easily and readily user replaceable - there are two screws holding in the 2.5" caddy. The caddy has a 4-screw metal foil shield over it (I didn't remove this, but it looked pretty straightforward). The laptop uses standard mSATA interface, so it's ripe for replacement. Drive comes with an ~25 GB recovery partition, and then ~900 GB of space for you after the install. The slowest overall component in the WEI is the HDD so this one's ripe for replacement. There is only one drive slot in the machine, so you're going to be trading space for speed (but who honestly needs 1TB in a laptop anyways?).
EXTERIOR: The lid is aluminum with a nice texture - the texture makes it feel more plasticy, but it definitely is metal. The entire bottom of the enclosure is plastic,
SPEAKERS: The speakers really surprised me with how good they actually sound. Much better than expected.
Cons: DISPLAY: Glossy. I strongly dislike these because in industrial/commercial lighting (ie overhead flourescents) conditions they reflect the bulbs back in your face...but aside from the reflectivity issue, it's great. I could do with a little bit more brightness. The bezel is really thick (especially for such a small chassis) - it makes the panel feel more cramped than it is.
KEYBOARD: The biggest issue is the placement of the arrow keys with respect to the numeric keypad. For someone who is used to doing a lot of work on a 10-key or a numeric keypad, having to deal with the 'half zero key' is a big hassle. I'm sure I'll get used to it, but initial reaction is "really?" It seems unnecessary to cram them together like that.
WEIGHT: It's pretty darn heavy. I cooked up the clever idea of pulling the second 650M MXM module from the laptop to make it lighter...don't count on this. It weighs maybe 6 ounces - so the laptop will get lighter but it won't be the big change I was hoping for.
SHIPPING: In what has to be the most surprising thing I've ever seen, the internal *laptop* box had several PUNCTURES a few inches in diameter. The box was still sealed, so I was honestly amazed that newegg would ship a container that had so obviously been abused - and the outer container had no marks on it whatsoever! That means that it was either punctured at Newegg's facility during packaging or before. The internal packaging wasn't bullet proof either (There are two simple end supports that hold the laptop in the box) so I (and Newegg) got really lucky that the laptop wasn't damaged by the punctures. This was a real disappointment (that Newegg would ship such an obviously damaged container). The box still had the Lenovo factory seal on it as well so... Shame on you, Newegg.
EXTERIOR: Even though the top is textured, it still picks up fingerprints like a drunken sailor (is that a thing?). The all-plastic bottom definitely flexes noticeably to user touch.
TRACKPAD: I'm not sure if this was a design feature, but the touchpad (as I noted about, I don't use trackpads I use mice, I'm just waiting on a BT mouse) flexes noticeably when 'clicked.' There's also not defined 'buttons' for mouse clicks (just areas - which is what makes me think that it is a design feature) - but this is slightly unnerving given the flimsy plastic enclosure. The plastic base definitely makes everyone feel cheaper than it probably should.
HDD: I would've strongly preferred a 120GB SSD to a 1TB HDD. I don't know what the costs end up being, but the 5400 RPM drive definitely holds you back. Aside from the RAM (Windows will happily make use of as much RAM as you can throw at it - and you should throw as much of it as you can) this is the biggest upgrade spot.
Overall Review: BATTERY LIFE: Windows predicts just shy of four hours, but I have yet to really push this. Will update as more data comes available. If the machine has one shortcoming, it is this. For a machine in this price range with an Ivy Bridge mobile processor, I really want to be in the 4.5-5.5 hour range, especially considering Optimus. We'll see how it plays out.
DEFAULT INSTALL: Took a long time to boot up the first time (30+ seconds) - some combination of first-time stuff and the 5400 RPM drive. Lenovo 'gives' you a subscription to Norton or McAfee...I uninstalled it so quickly I can't remember which it was. The apps that stood out to me (that were installed by default) were Kindle, Skype, a Lenovo cloud storage app (no thank you), Lenovo Photo, Lenovo Webcam and some other junk. NT 6.x does a pretty decent job of streamlining the uninstall process - though the AV uninstall did go through the application uninstaller which I didn't care for.
OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: So far so good. Lenovo spent money on the important stuff (keyboard, display) and has nice hardware to back it up. They get high marks for making every key area accessible and user replaceable but lose some for making the bottom cover so difficult to remove (I suppose taking off 7-8 screws once is better than having to hunt around under different panels to find what you're looking for - but it was pretty frustrating to have to pry off the entire bottom panel to get access to the SODIMM slots).
I'm taking off an egg for the general quality of the enclosure, the glossy display, and the battery life spec. It's one of the better laptops I've owned, and when you take into account the hardware for the price (cheaper than laptops with better build quality, with much better hardware than even the best built laptops have) you have to commend Lenovo/Newegg for speccing out such a nice machine.
I have to again mention how disappointed I am in the condition of the internal (not shipping, but the actual laptop box with the Lenovo labels on it) container. Whatever did that damage was pointed and sharp, and punctured a 3+ inch hole in the box in an area where there was nothing but air protecting the laptop itself - and the condition of the shipping container means that this was damage done by Newegg in NJ (or that Newegg accepted a box in this condition from the factory)! Frankly, Newegg is lucky I'm not posting a video of a broken laptop unboxing.
Pros: Decent Layout, lots of space. Two 'drink pouches' on the side (as opposed to zip pouches), Laptop section heavily padded. Straps are comfortable and broad. Handle is rubber and reinforced. Has a cross strap.
Cons: I would like a bigger external small zip pack in the back. There is no designated "power brick" area (I ended up sticking it in one of the 'cupholders.'
The real problem with this backpack is that one of the straps came apart after 4 months of use. I'm sure there was some kind of incindental nick (though I never noticed it) - but in a matter of two weeks a small tear in one of the straps opened up to the entire strap unraveling. The pack still functions but is unsightly and uncomfortable to wear. I'm very disappointed in the quality of the stitching if this is the result of a simple nick in the canvas/fabric that makes up the strap covers.
Pros: Performance/Dollar are the best of any laptop available. Great multimedia features - building a comparable desktop rig would cost more than the laptop does. 900 lines vertical resolution are great for browsing (most of the i7 laptops in this price range come with 768 line displays, which for anything over 15" is just too small). Port layout is very clean, with nothing on the back. Keyboard has a nice feel to it, touchpad is a very nice unit with scroll pad on the right. LED display is sharp and bright as expected. BD-ROM is a very nice feature to have in this price range. Overall, a very solid machine - especially for the price.
Cons: The very first thing I noticed on powering on the machine was the viewing angle. It's a TN panel - and you start to get light bleed and distortion at a *very* narrow angle band. It is very disheartening. I think Acer did not spec the panel well to what is needed for such a wide display. The unit is a little bigger than I'd like (but the fact of the matter is it's a 17" display - I'll love it when I'm using it, and hate it when I'm carrying it). It's actually surprisingly light for the size. Would've liked a USB3 port, but with all the whiz-bangs (like BDROM) I can't really complain about that.
Overall Review: Very solid product. Just got it today, packing was a little unnerving (UPS delivered the box, I picked it up and the box with the laptop in it was sliding around inside the packing box). I remember when Newegg used to pack everything in a 2x3x2 foot box full of polystyrene. The worry was for nothing - the exterior box was *slightly* roughed up, but the laptop's outer box was pristine, and the inner laptop box (what you would see on a store-bought unit) was factory.
All-in-all, a great unit. The specs are unbelievable on this machine; I built a rig in December of this year (Lynnfield and GTS250) and this laptop has more computing power than my main rig - really astonishing.
The exterior is pretty sharp. The base of the laptop is matte, but the display shell and bezel is gloss. I'm not really a stickler for that kind of thing (It's a portable compute device, not a display item), but it's something to consider.
Acer loads it up with bloat. Took about an hour to clean