Lenovo G550 review

7 Jan 2010

Lenovo's G550 tries to combine ThinkPad build quality with consumer-friendly features, but it's a disappointing mix

Price when reviewed: 
568£568 inc VAT
3

Lenovo’s iconic ThinkPad range has become synonymous with high-quality business portables, and with its Value line, it's attempting to recreate that success with keenly priced consumer models such as the G550.

With its lid closed, the Lenovo is almost rather handsome. A subtle grain helps to make the G550’s silvery-grey plastic look a little like brushed metal, and the curved edges initially dispel any comparisons with the square-jawed ThinkPad range. Tilt back the lid, however, and the thick base and lumpen design make most ThinkPads look positively svelte.

The G550’s 2.56kg frame seems to promise equally thick-set build quality, but it isn’t up to ThinkPad standards. There’s nothing major to worry about, but the chassis is noticeably more pliant than Acer’s Aspire 5739G, and there’s a fair amount of give in the lid, too. If you do decide to take the weighty Lenovo on your travels, battery life is middle of the road: sitting idle with the screen set to mid brighness it lasted 3hrs 52mins on a full charge.

Lenovo G550

The average build quality rears its head in other areas. The keyboard is sensibly laid out and the keys have a nice, positive action, but you don’t have to press too hard to feel the base give way underneath. It’s a shame, since it makes for a disconnected feel that isn’t as pleasant to type on as the best we've tried.

Image quality is another of the Lenovo’s weak points. The 15.6in panel has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels, which is identical to many of the other laptops here, but while the images it produces appear eye-poppingly bright, it isn’t subtle. Highlights looked crushed and poor contrast left even the most vibrant of pictures looking sun-bleached.

Performance at least showed the Lenovo in a more favourable light. The 2.2GHz dual-core processor is enough to push the G550 past the finish line with 1.10 overall in our application benchmarks and, on the graphics front, the Nvidia GeForce G210M chip powers to a respectable 36fps in our easiest Crysis benchmark.

But despite fine performance, Lenovo’s G550 doesn’t deliver the all-round panache of some of its rivals. With a poor display, unremarkable build quality and mediocre ergonomics, it simply doesn’t have what it takes to compete with best in this price bracket.

Details

Price ex VAT £483
Price inc VAT £568
Overall rating 3
Features & Design 3
Value for Money 3
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 383 x 244 x 40mm (WDH)
Weight 2.560kg
Travelling weight 3.1kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core 2 Duo T6600
Motherboard chipset Intel GM45/GM47
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce G210M
Graphics card RAM 512MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 500GB
Hard disk usable capacity 466GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Hitachi HTS545050B9A300
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical drive TSSTcorp TS-L633B
Battery capacity 4,300mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Conexant HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 3hr 52min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 16min
Overall application benchmark score 1.10
Office application benchmark score 1.16
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.22
Encoding application benchmark score 0.97
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.04
3D performance (crysis) low settings 36fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs