by LAPTOP Staff on March 27, 2012
Excellent build quality, best-in-class ergonomics and efficient tech support make Lenovo one of the top notebook brands.
UPDATE: Check out Lenovo's 2013 Brand Report Card to see how the company fared this year.
Lenovo notched an impressive five Editors' Choice awards out of the 16 notebooks we reviewed from the brand. However, five of these systems--mostly its consumer-focused IdeaPad line--scored a middle-of-the-road 3 stars. Among our laptops were the ThinkPad T420 and Edge E420s.
The ThinkPad X1 proved that Lenovo is willing to take some risks with its iconic business brand, sporting a soft-touch finish and modern, chiclet-style keyboard. The ThinkPad Edge line is a little flashier, with such models as the E420s dressed in Moss Black and edge-to-edge glass. Lenovo's first Ultrabooks were a mixed bag, however. The all-metal designs were sleek, but had sharp edges and lacked SD card slots and backlit keyboards.
Lenovo's business and consumer notebook's input devices couldn't be more different. The business-y ThinkPad line sets the gold standard with the best keyboards around, accurate touchpads and time-saving pointing sticks. The consumer-focused IdeaPad line uses Accutype keyboards with smile-shaped keys, which offer good spacing but not the best feedback. Lenovo's touchpads with discrete buttons, offered a highly accurate experience, but clickpads with integrated buttons (ThinkPad X1 pictured).
In our experience, Lenovo has consistently offered solid tech support, with the company averaging a "B+" grade. Support.lenovo.com includes a new layout and innovative tools, such as Virtual Agent for common questions. Plus, during test calls, Lenovo phone-support representatives used remote-access software to help us. While we wish Lenovo would add live-chat support, the company delivered a very good experience.
Lenovo's displays offer good viewing angles, especially on the ThinkPad X220. However, some laptops, including the IdeaPad U400, come with super-glossy screens. Speakers sounded generally accurate and loud enough for small- to medium-size rooms, though we did notice tinniness on some systems. The best-sounding Lenovos use Dolby Home Theater v4 technology.
Lenovo's lineup isn't as diverse in feature and price as Dell's and HP's offerings. Still, Lenovo's IdeaPad and ThinkPad lines consistently earn high marks for their good performance and excellent keyboards, making them worth the cash. You can buy notebooks directly from the Lenovo website, and you can build your system to order.
Lenovo's helpful business apps include ThinkVantage utilities (found only on ThinkPads), Power Manager for conserving battery, Rescue and Recovery for backup, Password Manager and Access Connections. Power Manager uniquely offers Instant Resume, which keeps a Wi-Fi card active 10 minutes after the notebook goes to sleep. On consumer-focused IdeaPads, users get Veriface for facial recognition, OneKey Recovery for backup and DirectShare for sharing media across networked PCs.
Lenovo notched a first-place finish in Rescuecom's reliability report, beating Apple and Dell. The BBB awarded Lenovo an A+. The brand has been praised by Laptopmag.com readers, with one saying, "Nothing compares to Lenovo." Others complimented the notebooks' build quality and design.
Despite its reputation as a business notebook brand, Lenovo is pushing the envelope when it comes to bridging the gap between tablet and laptop. The company's ThinkPad X1 Hybrid gives users two operating systems on one device, while the upcoming IdeaPad Yoga sports an innovating folding design.