I've had my new Lenovo P400 for about 3 days now. If learn more or my opinion of it changes, I'll be sure to update this review.
First off, I had the most delightful buying experience purchasing the Lenovo P400 at Best Buy. I walked in, and was quickly greeted by a sales person. I told him the specs I was looking for and he showed me my options. The P400 stood out as having a touch screen, a backlit keyboard, a 1 terabyte drive and being $100 off. I played with it a bit, and the sales person even jumped through hoops so I could get Internet access on the device (so I could read reviews, naturally). When I asked the difference between Window 8 Basic and Professional, he rattled them off without missing a beat. When I decided to buy the laptop, he grabbed the box, charged me for it and had me on my way. No need to check out again at the front of the store. Best of all, I wasn't pressed into buying an extended warranty. He didn't even make mention of it. Heck, he even reassured me I could bring the laptop back within 30 days without a restocking fee.
Seriously, it was the most effortless laptop buying experience I've ever had.
The P400 booted up and Shira had no problem setting it up on our network. I had no problem installing Carbonite on the device, and am currently 8% through the process of transferring files from my now retired Dell Vostro. Carbonite promises me that in "a few days" all my files should be in place. In the mean time, I've been using it for casual surfing and getting a feel for the device and Windows 8.
Here are some first impressions of the device:
- The touch pad is awful. I mean truly dreadful. Like almost bad enough that I'm tempted to package the whole thing up and return the laptop to the store. The problem is that Lenovo (IBM?) decided to ditch the separate left and right buttons found at the base of most touch pads and integrated them into the pad. You can use the pad as normal, or click where the buttons should be. This makes for a plasticy feel, noisy operation and one that lacks the physical edges to guide a touch typist. Worse than all that, I find that when I click a button the touch pad area often picks up slight movements in my fingers and moves the mouse just a tiny bit. Enough that it agitates me. Anyway, it's a hideous design. I assume that in another few days, I'll get used it. I'll be shocked if I ever decide I love it.
- The keyboard is nothing special, though I do like the backlit feature. It does have a bit of a loose feel to it, which I don't love.
- The touch pad seems to be setup as a space saving design, yet doesn't seem to save any space. The physical laptop appears to be bigger than my Asus. Which is OK, I use a netbook for when I travel and space is a real concern.
- The touch screen is a nice addition. I don't really know when or how I'm going to use it. However, Windows 8 seems to be designed with tablets in mind, so having a device that can approximate one is a smart idea to me.
- The device comes with Windows 8 which at times is very disorienting (compared to Windows 7). I actually had to Google Windows 8 Shutdown to find the Right Way to reboot the laptop. I'll have more to say on Windows 8, soon, I hope. I will say that I'm pleased that the device came with it.
- I like the Home-End-PgUp-PgDn key layout. Itmatches up to my Asus, the other active laptop I'm using, which is a real bonus. I can't recall the last time I was using two laptops that had the same keyboard layout. That's a treat.
- The laptop comes with Microsoft Security Essentials, my preferred anti-virus software, already installed. That's really handy.
- There's seems to be a minimum of bloatware installed on the computer. I think they wanted to make Windows 8 shine, and so a minimum of crap has been pre-installed.
All in all, the laptop seems to be working well. I've yet to push it, but I'm impressed with how much laptop you can get for around $750. Provided I can learn to live with this touch pad, I think this is going to be an excellent platform to program on.
By the way, here's all the software I intend to install on this puppy. This should cover my programming and blogging needs:
Update 3/7/2013: The top row of keys contain both the function keys (F1, F2, etc.) as well as common short cuts (mute, volume up, volume down, etc.). Nothing too exciting there. But here's the part that's just rocked my world: usually the F keys are accessed by default, and the short cuts are accessed by holding down the Fn key. The P400 has this inverted! So, pressing F2 will lower the volume. To actually press F2 you need to hold down Fn and F2. While being a major break in tradition, and not very helpful to someone who uses key short cuts (F2 to rename files, anyone?), it's actually a way overdue move. Why should a bunch of seemingly esoteric keys (F1, F2, etc.) take precedence over something you'll actually use - like a mute key.
Update 3/12/2013: I noticed the laptop reported WiFi was unavailable a few times while the rest of the devices in my house were connected up just fine. Sometimes turning WiFi off and on fixed the issue, sometimes a reboot helped. I finally visited the Lenovo Support Site and installed the latest network drivers (Intel Wireless LAN Driver (2230N BGN) - 18.104.22.168). Since then, I've had no further issues with WiFi being dropped. Whew, that was a close one.
Update 3/21/2013: A few days ago the mysterious WiFi issue popped up again. The laptop was able to connect to my home and cell phone WiFi hotspot, yet it was stuck with limited connectivity. I talked to Lenovo, and they said to call my ISP (Verizon Fios). They, in turn, said it was an issue with the laptop. In the end, rather than send in a 2 week old laptop to be repaired, I opted to return it to Best Buy. As promised, Best Buy returned the laptop without any hassle or fees. And thus ends my ownership of a Lenovo Ideapad P400.
Here's a few additional observations I've had:
- Best Buy really did rock. The no hassle buy and return means that I'd very much like to buy from them again. The only downer is that they've changed their return policy to 15 days from 30. Ouch.
- Specs wise, the P400 really is remarkable. Since returning it I've looked around at a variety of other options I've yet to find anything with the specs (i7 processor, 8gig RAM and touch screen) with such a good price and small footprint. I'll keep looking around, but I may just buy another one. Though that touch pad is annoying enough that I'm looking into all my options.
- I used the touch screen a few times while browsing full screen. Using the touch screen is way slower than the keyboard. But, it's a lot more convienient to drag the screen around than use the touchpad to drag the scrollbar. There may be a use for touch screens on laptops after all.