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Pro’s: Solid chassis, good performance, loaded with features
Con’s: Poor battery life, mushy keyboard, pricey
|Specs||Lenovo IdeaPad Y460|
Intel Core i5-520M (2.4-2.93GHz)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Switchable ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 1GB
500GB 5400rpm SATA
14-inch Full HD (1366×768) LED backlit; 220 nits
|Ports||6-in-1 card reader|
ExpressCard 34 slot
(3) USB 2.0
(1) eSATA/USB 2.0
VGA & HDMI output
13.4 x 9.3 x 0.8-1.3 inches
6-cell: 4.85 lb
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While the Y460’s design won’t catch many eyes, the beautify is in the details on this one. Most of this sleek laptop is painted a glossy black, with some very minor orange highlights. The highlights are subtle, but create a nice accent. You’ll also notice the plethora of white LEDs above the keyboard, most of which are functional. There are two LEDs offset from the center that just pulse, which admittedly creates a nice effect.
Beyond the subtle color scheme, Lenovo has some very nicely sculpted edges and vents. Each side of the laptop has a chamfered edge, not unlike the ThinkPad T410, and the vents are ornately styled. The LCD top cover also has some subtle patterning, like many other IdeaPads.
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We’ve used many a laptop in our time, including nearly every model from Lenovo since the ThinkPad T42. Laptop keyboards tend to vary greatly in layout and typing experience, though every laptop from Lenovo that we’ve used has had a solid typing experience. Unfortunately the IdeaPad Y460 lets us down.
The keyboard layout is overall standard and practical, with its 6 row layout and the useful Home/End/PgUp/PgDn keys laid out on the right side. The Fn key is in the lower left corner, as with all Lenovo laptops.
The problem with the Y460’s keyboard is a large amount of flex and general lack of tactile feedback. The keys have a very soft response to them and as a heavy-handed typer, I experience a large amount of flex when I type at any significant speed.
To make sure I wasn’t holding my standards too high, I handed the Y460 over to my fiancée who is a polar opposite of me regarding typing: she has small hands, doesn’t type as fast, and is used to her old Dell Inspiron’s keyboard. She found the Y460’s keyboard to be satisfactory, though noted she had an issue with the Shift key not responding quickly, resulting in an additional letter being capitalized.
Accordingly, it would seem the keyboard would be satisfactory to those not used to something as solid and responsive as a ThinkPad keyboard. As always, one’s expectations will determine their satisfaction. Unfortunately, ThinkPad owners will have expectations that should steer them away from the Y460’s keyboard. This is a shame, as the previous generation Y450 I reviewed had a great keyboard and I love the overall design and chassis of the series.
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Lenovo’s IdeaPads have been hit or miss with the performance of their touchpad, but the Y460’s performs well. It is responsive and has a texture to it that creates a nice tactile experience.
The size is plenty sufficient, though the location is not ideal for my big hands. It is placed slightly left of center, as are many other touchpads, making it very easy for my left palm to rest on the touchpad. This happens so often that need to disable the touchpad with the hotkey combo Fn+F6. Increasing the palm sensitivity option in the touchpad options helps a bit, but ultimately the touchpad location is problematic for me.
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The Y460 uses a 16:9 ratio, HD resolution, glossy LCD, like nearly all its brethren. The color saturation and overall image quality are quite good, on par for this category of notebooks. Brightness in particular is rather astounding: I never had to use above half brightness indoors. The viewing angles won’t win any awards, but are sufficient for the average user and don’t leave you hunting for the perfect LCD angle.
The biggest downside to this machine is just how reflective the glossy display is. This is common for most mid-level consumer machines, but as someone who uses a matte screen all day I find it very distracting.
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We delved into one aspect of the Y460’s multimedia prowess above, but it doesn’t end there. The speakers are JBL branded and deliver pretty decent sound. They are at the higher end of all laptop speakers, but of course don’t hold a candle to proper external speakers or headphones.
A nice multimedia feature on the Y460 is the playback mode button, which adjusts the display and sound profiles based on whether you’re using the laptop normally or watching a movie. Switching on the movie mode, contrast improved making it easier to see detail in dark movie scenes, a common problem on LCDs. It also changed the sound profile, creating a slightly fuller output with a bit of simulated surround to it.
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Features & Technology
Lenovo’s IdeaPad Y Series have always been a mid to high end system and come accordingly equipped. The recently refreshed Y460 uses Intel’s new 2010 Core processors and all models come with 4GB RAM and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. 500GB hard drives, DVD burners, and Bluetooth are standard across the line as well!
You also come fully loaded for ports, with a surprising four USB 2.0 ports (one doubles as an eSATA combo), card reader, ExpressCard34 slot, and both VGA & HDMI video outputs. This is a very strong set of features in a consumer notebook, which helps explain why this isn’t a $500 bottom basement machine.
Connectivity & Ports
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Left side (front to back): Headphone & mic jacks, two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet jack, HDMI output, VGA output
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Right side (front to back): USB 2.0 port, eSATA/USB 2.0 combo, ExpressCard/34 slot, optical drive, AC jack, Kensington lock slot
Lenovo is pretty generous with the preloaded software on their IdeaPads. You get a full suite of CD/DVD burning software that should cover most users’ basic needs. DVD playback is covered of course and thankfully the bloatware is kept to a minimum.
The worst offender is the McAfee anti-virus trial, which bugs you to activate the program, but can of course be easily removed. The MS Office trial is there as well, along with a few other programs.
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Unfortunately battery life is an area where we’ve never been truly impressed with IdeaPads. Lenovo’s design choices generally prohibit larger capacity batteries, so many of the systems are limited to 6-cell batteries, the Y460 included.
Also of note is that our Y460 has switchable graphics, with manual switching available between the on-CPU Intel HD and discrete ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 1GB graphics. This was a learning point for your author, as our first battery test was quite poor. At this point we realized the GPU didn’t automatically switch when you went to battery power, so we re-did the test with the GPU switched to the Intel HD graphics for comparison.
Our battery test consisted of watching 45 minutes of streaming video from Netflix and the remaining time spent browsing various websites, which is a rather strenuous activity due to the CPU load caused by Flash heavy websites. Under these conditions, the discrete GPU yielded 2 hours 20 minutes runtime, while the integrated GPU extended that to 3 hours 5 minutes. If you were to lower the screen brightness and/or stick to a lighter activity, you could likely reach the 3.5 hour runtime that Lenovo quotes for the Y460.
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Real World Usage
The Y460 is mostly on par with Lenovo’s other IdeaPads and mainstream consumer notebooks in day to day computing. It is reasonably small and runs sufficiently cool & quiet. I didn’t find the glossy display to be too much of a distraction indoors, but those who are surrounded by overhead fluorescent lights may want to consider a matte screen.
While the 14-inch notebook is relatively portable and certainly sleek in design, this compromises how much battery capacity can be included and hurts the overall portability of the Y460. Sure you could pack the AC adapter with you, but it is very long and narrow, taking up quite a lot of space in your bags.
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We’ve generally liked Lenovo’s IdeaPads over the past few years, as they have expanded from an Asia-only niche to Lenovo’s “consumer” products across the world. One of the early Y Series, the Y650, was a particular triumph in design and quality. We also really liked the Y450 quite a bit, but the Y460 falters a bit in carrying on the torch.
The design is a bit lackluster compared to earlier IdeaPads, though to be fair that is entirely subjective. What does come across as very disappointing is the mushy keyboard, coming from someone who is spoiled by ThinkPad keyboards every day. Given it appears to be the same chassis as the Y450, Lenovo also did not introduce a significant refresh that would allow for a larger battery. Unfortunately all of the Y Series are hindered by 6-cell batteries with no option for greater capacities.
Priced around $1000, depending on configuration, the IdeaPad Y460 is definitely a premium offering. The technology inside it is competitive for the price range, with 4GB RAM, 500GB storage, and 2010 Intel Core processors on every model. The features are strong as well, with nearly every connection you could need. You can even get one model with a Blu-ray drive.
Unfortunately the devil is in the details, as the mushy keyboard and mediocre battery life should make you carefully weigh the Y460 against other options like a better priced IdeaPad, competing models from HP and Dell, or even a ThinkPad T410 which runs in the same price range.
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