Tuesday, March 05, 2013

First Impressions: Lenovo Ideapad P400 Touch

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) - 15.5.7.52). 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.

35 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:43 AM

    Hi I have the same laptop you have but I'm not so good with laptops but the first day I used it I noticed that it has an internal fan to clean the dust from your computer but I forgot how I did that and where to find it :( have you found it? thanks in advance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Open the power managament utility, click on the wrench icon (settings) and then there is a fan dust extraction feature.

      Delete
    2. awesome! thanks!

      Delete
    3. Anonymous2:27 PM

      What power management utility are you finding this in? I tried power options in the control panel and nothing.

      Delete
    4. go to show icons and click on the energy management you will find the dust removal there ;)

      Delete
    5. Lenovo is not anymore IBM... it's China ;)

      Delete
  2. Anonymous11:33 AM

    Hi Ben! Im Letícia, from Brasil. How are u?
    I bought Lenovo P400 a week ago and Im having the same problem:The laptop was able to connect to my home and cell phone WiFi hotspot, yet it was stuck with limited connectivity.
    I wonder if they give you any solution, because Im in Brazil and I can't go to BestBuy, lol!

    If you prefer, send me an email: leaccs@hotmail.com

    TKS,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous11:29 PM

      , hmm in your case , try to locate the windows update (it can also be useful) i have tried it in my sisters hp laptop because it also have same problem, i guess it will also work in this lenovo.

      Delete
  3. Letícia -

    I'm sorry to say, but after I called Lenovo and my internet provider, nobody had any suggestions. And the folks at Best Buy weren't aware of the issue.

    I don't have any specific advice to offer. However, perhaps if other users start seeing the issue, a solution will be found?

    On paper, the laptop really is impressive and perhaps if this issue can be resolved, I'll end up buying one.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have the same issue. It's a Windows 8 problem, actually.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous9:11 PM

    Go into Device Manager (search start menu for "device manager" then click Settings on the right), find the wireless network device, right click it, go to power management, and make sure it is UNchecked to allow the computer to turn it off. This is the problem!!! You're welcome!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your tip.
      I bought this laptop yesterday.
      Though I haven't seen this problem so far, I went ahead and changed the power mgmt settings as suggested by you just to be in the safe side.

      Delete
    2. Hi. Where can i find the power managment option? I opened the device manager then right click on "intel centrino wireless N2230" and it shows: update driver software, enable, uninstall, scan for hardware changes, properties. Please help me

      Delete
  6. Anonymous6:22 PM

    I also found turning Blue Tooth off solved the issue with the internet connection . . .

    I like this laptop - been pleased with it. Still need to figure out the little red crown-like icon on the space bar. Any ideas?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous2:00 PM

      If you hit the Fn key at the same time as you press the space bar, the keyboard will light up.

      I haven't had any WiFi problems yet and agree with others about the touchpad. I don't know how much of the problem is Windows 8 and how much is the pointing device--I'm using both for the first time. The whole touch concept is ridiculously overrated in a laptop, unless it's a convertible, which this is not.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous10:06 PM

      Thanks for this tip. It is very useful. Do you know how I can get a list of the various function keys?

      Delete
  7. Anonymous10:11 PM

    The touch pad is so awful on this device I flipped the screen by accident and how to research how to fix that and now I'm having issues with my keyboard not working. Any ideas on what I may have done to lock the keyboard so that i can now unlock it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ctrl+Alt+ up arrow... you can also do Ctrl+Alt+ other arrow keys for other directions as well.

      Delete
  8. Anonymous3:29 PM

    press fn and the crown to turn backlit keys on and off

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have this laptop. The touchpad and keyboard are indeed horrible. Also, I was bored so I tried to downgrade to Windows 8 and now not only can I not reinstall 8 but the brightness is stuck at max which sucks when I'm using my computer at night.
    1600x900 is super nice at a laptop this size though, and the i7 CPU is great.
    Wish it had a faster drive than the slow 5400RPM disk... rather have 256GB SSD or 500GB HDD @ 7200RPM...
    Intel HD 4000 graphics are good, but GTA IV doesn't work right :(

    Overall, I would not recommend this laptop. I like my old Lenovo IdeaPad V570 much better than this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous6:24 AM

      my brightness is stuck in low which really sucks! HELP!

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  10. What is the difference between this and the Z400?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi all. Am considering purchasing this computer and have done some research. There's no difference between the Z & P. Lenovo had named it the Z400, BestBuy has renamed it the P400. I can only assume that's to disable customers from researching?? That said, I also had a wonderfully informative, no pressure experience at the two Best Buy stores where I've been browsing for computers.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anonymous10:38 AM

    Where is the battery compartment located on the P400?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous8:23 PM

      The battery is built in

      Delete
  13. Anonymous10:03 PM

    I too have the same computer and on a daily basis I have to trouble shoot my problem of not having access to internet. After following steps which can take up to 20 mins. or so, it gets temporarily fixed. I say that because I go through this everyday which has become a drag... How to you find the wrench icon?

    ReplyDelete
  14. I recently bought one of these machines, reconditioned, from NewEgg for only $525. For that price I can live with a sucky touchpad. Also, I got rid of the Windows 8 installation and replaced it with Ubuntu 12.04, which completely smokes on that hardware. I kept the recovery partitions that it comes with, so at any time, I can restore the UEFI boot method in the BIOS and quickly revert to the Windows 8 configuration that it came shipped with, should I decide I'm unhappy with Linux. A very nice machine all around.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How did you get to the bios??? I tried but when it would turn on it would boot straight into windows 8, oh how i hate windows 8.

      Delete
  15. @Howard -

    Thanks for sharing your success story! I keep meaning to install Linux on a laptop (like the good old days, when I ran Linux on a desktop) but I can't ever seem to find the time. Thanks for the inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  16. can't get laptop to charge above 29 percent

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous12:01 AM

      If you upgraded to Windows 8.1 the battery gets messed up. I had to send my machine back to Lenovo to be repaired for this.

      Delete
  17. Can't stand the "anti-glare" screen. Can't stand Windows 8.1. I have been working in IT for 10 years and have had many pcs. This is a solid piece of hardware, I think the Ideapad is a great value. The keyboard/pad are great, the durability, networking etc are all great, but I just can not stomach the dimness of the screen. Even on brightest setting, the screen is DIM. This anti-glare/surfact stuff really gets on my nerves. I just can't bring myself to enjoy using the PC because of the inability to see the screen and the burden/dragdown that Windows 8.1 does (in fact for any PC) is just too much. Gonna sell mine I think. I have had it 6 months but have used it less than a dozen times. :-( Its not the Lenovo thing (except the screen)! I love Lenovo laptops. But this screen is killing me. So disappointed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous12:03 AM

      This is a Windows 8.1 software glitch. Contact Lenovo and they can advise you how to reset the screen brightness. They did it for me.

      Delete
  18. Anonymous12:25 PM

    i have same prob too

    ReplyDelete
  19. Anonymous8:39 PM

    This is one of the worst purchases I've ever made. Value for dollar is awful. Seagate Momentus hard drive died completely in less than a year. Upon replacement, the default BIOS config refused to recognize any bootable device. Upon enabling legacy support, the machine went into perpetual reboot mode with no way to even get into the BIOS setup screen. A complete waste of a large amount of money. Lenovo has gone down the toilet in build quality with the release of this dog.

    ReplyDelete

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