Lenovo: Best and Worst Laptop Brands 2013

Lenovo is nipping at HP’s heels when it comes to being the No. 1 notebook seller worldwide, and it’s easy to see why. Between venerable business Ultrabooks like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and innovative convertibles like the IdeaPad Yoga show that Lenovo is ahead of the curve. Add in low-cost ultraportables like the S400 series and it’s easy to see why other brands are looking over their shoulders. 

Reviews (14/20)

Coming in second, Lenovo received an astounding six Editors’ Choice awards this year. That’s nearly a third of all the notebooks we tested from the company. Not surprisingly, its highest-rated systems were in the ThinkPad line — such as the T430s and X1 Carbon. But while 13 of its notebooks received a rating of 4 stars, one system, the ThinkPad Twist, received 2.5 stars for low battery life.

MORE: See most recent Lenovo laptops reviews.

Design(13/15)

With such lookers as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch Ultrabook, Lenovo once again proves that business can beautiful — especially when you combine carbon fiber with sleek lines. Lenovo also gussied up the IdeaPad line with vivid, eye-catching color, as seen on the IdeaPad U410 and IdeaPad U310. The IdeaPad Yoga, a Windows 8 convertible with three user modes, proves Lenovo isn’t afraid to think outside the box.

MORE: 10 Best Lenovo Laptops

Keyboard and Touchpad (14/15)

The ThinkPad line is virtually synonymous with high-quality keyboards. Time and again, the brand has impressed with its spacious, spill-resistant keyboards, and this year is no different. In particular, we found the layouts of the T430, T430s and W530 to be the best representation of the brand. The company’s one stumbling block is its IdeaPad line, which features units that suffer from occasional keyboard flex and undersized keys. The ThinkPad line’s comfortable and accurate Pointing Stick is one of the brand’s hallmarks.

Tech Support (10/15)

Lenovo has only made minor tweaks to its tech support since last year, so its score did not improve. Lenovo’s Assisted Search provided confusing or unrelated answers. Getting an indirect response via Twitter took three days, and a Facebook rep gave us an incorrect response (luckily, a forum user jumped in to help). Fortunately, phone support reps were very helpful, and call times were no longer than 13 minutes.

More: Read Lenovo Tech Support Showdown results.

Display and Audio (7/10)

Lenovo kept on a par with last year, offering consistently good viewing angles and display quality, such as that found in the IdeaPad Yoga and X1 Carbon. Unfortunately, as we saw with the ThinkPad T530, some displays were relatively dim. Audio was hit or miss. The X1 Carbon pumped out clear and loud audio, but other notebooks had a tinny sound, which was improved only slightly with the Dolby Advanced Audio software.

Value and Selection (9/10)

Lenovo’s vast notebook selection consists of three lines: the G Essential series, IdeaPad (Ultrabooks and multimedia) and ThinkPad (business). In each of these series, you’ll find great deals, such as the $610 ThinkPad Edge E430 with Core i5 power. The IdeaPad line gets confusing with several sub-brands, from S (thin and light) and U (Ultrabooks) to Y and Z (multimedia). Then there’s the Yoga line of convertibles. The ThinkPad line houses several options as well, many of which undercut business systems from HP and Dell. Lenovo.com offers deep customization options, as well as prices that often beat other online retailers. However, the brand’s selection in some box stores is smaller than that offered by Dell and HP.

Innovation (10/10)

Lenovo continues to outshine most of the Windows competition in this category. The company is simply willing to take more risks, including the recently expanded Yoga line, whose screen can flip around 360 degrees. An 11-inch version will join the 13-inch model, which will also feature motion gesture support, in time for the back-to-school season. The ThinkPad Helix proves that Lenovo isn’t afraid to experiment on the business side of the house. The Windows 8 hybrid sports a design that allows users to dock the display in presentation mode, use it as a slate only or use it as a traditional clamshell. A built-in digitizer pen further adds to the versatility.

Software (4/5)

Lenovo’s business-oriented ThinkPad line ships with several helpful utilities, including Power Manager and Airbag Protection, which stops the hard drive if you drop the machine, in an effort to protect the data. Lenovo Fingerprint makes it easy to enroll your prints for systems that ship with a reader. The company’s IdeaPad line typically comes with OneKey Recovery, which is a quick and easy to way back up and recover system files. Power Management allows you to switch your power settings and resembles a car’s odometer, which we liked. And the Thermal Management System, which regulates fan speed and noise, comes in handy.

Best and Worst Notebook Brands 2013

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  1. Aaron Peterson Says:

    I’m sorry… The Thinkpad tracpoint is now crippled by software that makes it so you can’t use the middle mouse button and the trackpoint at the same time.

    There are also problems with the keyboards.

    The backlights are so horrible, they shine more light in your eyes making it so you can’t see the key caps!

    The backlit keyboards also feel like they are clicking when they are not.

    The non-backlit keyboard still sucks.

    It requires a very direct push, and the large keys make it impossible to position your fingers correctly if you are a touch typist.

    This lenovo has the worst keyboard of any laptop I have ever used :O seriously…

    (They do have that spill drain feature, which may be of some use)

  2. MTB Says:

    Lenovo = worst computer I have ever bought. Worst service I have ever experienced. Weirdest disconnect I have ever observed between enthusiasm of industry people and frustration of actual customers who get stuck with these lemons. If you think my computer is a good computer, I would be THRILLED if you would buy it from me.

  3. RLS Says:

    T430S is a pricy lousy product:
    Backlight keyboard breaks every 3 months. It breaks twice in 6 months of ownership with below average gentle usages. Different key caps broken off and can’t reattached back so it needed a new keyboard. It’s still under 1 year Depot/Express Warranty. Lenovo should recall their keyboard or extend their warranty for them.

    Lenovo provides lousy service:
    The keyboard was replaced by one of their service provider when it happened the first time.
    The second time I was told 2 options:
    1. a new keyboard will ship to me and I have to replace it myself or
    2. a depot box will ship to me and I have to ship my laptop back to them for repair which will take days
    I was told due to policy change Lenovo no longer ship parts to their service provider and I can’t have it repaired there.

    I contacted the service provider who replaced the first keyboard. They took over my issue and contacted Lenovo for me. They received/replaced the second keyboard. They told me if I followed their option 1 then I will void the warranty as soon as I open the product.

  4. Jeremy Says:

    The Lenovo Thinkpad and the Yoga series are the best laptops I’ve ever used. Their Thinkpad series are simply unbeatable, unbreakable. I love how customizable they are. The Yoga I bought for my family are so awesome, they beat ever ipad wannbie out there in the market in terms of speed, battery power and more.

  5. patme Says:

    On design side I prefer HP than lenovo. Yes lenovo got good keyboard layout but one thing which I should let readers know that Lenovo have many times copied HP designs many times. Like the one shown above. Envy got same red base and same design and lenovo simply copied it. It is not about the color here it is about Marketting Strategy which Lenovo copies HP. Apple HP Asus is always my favorites it stands out from the rest

  6. Aung ko ko oo Says:

    very nice

  7. ITGuy Says:

    Honestly, some time ago I bought 2 Lenovo laptops. Worst mistake I ever made. Had both motherboards replaced, keyboards and touchpads failed, then a screen in one of them, then a second motherboard in one of them. WORST POS computer I ever bought. I will never buy from them again. Seriously stay away from Lenovo and their garbage. I’d buy a Dell before I bought another Lenovo. Hell I’d buy a Chinese knock off before buying another Lenovo. As an IT professional of 15 years I have been through a ton of computers and supported them in the enterprise. HP has been the most solid even though I’m not an HP fan.

  8. James Says:

    What would the result look like if the ThinkPad and Lenovo standard lineup were considered separate?

  9. Jeff Bellin Says:

    Laptopmag.com’s annual survey is missing a major criterion in judging a brand: quality control. Lately Lenovo – both consumer and Thinkpad lines, especially the latter, have had among the highest failure/return rates in the industry and it is especially important to survey and publish this info because so many buyers are misled by the now-faded glory of past Lenovo product quality.

    I think you also fail to accurately depict customer service with just a review of web tools and a few sample calls for phone support of very basic questions. Once again, the formerly vaunted Lenovo tech support, especially on site support and even depot repair has become a horror show for many. Note how almost all the comments so far are from people who say they will never buy a Lenovo product again! This sounds more like Acer or Dell of 5 years ago. You need to get this kind of information into your surveys or, frankly, don’t bother publishing this ranking based on such subjective measures as how many of their computers you liked when you used a machine for one day and never dealt with quality problems or bad support.

  10. Dave Smith Says:

    Sorry, but will never buy a Lenovo again! Where do I start? Error messages saying the power adapter isn’t real, screen flickering Psychedelically, keyboard button failure, microphone interferences with the processor (which buzzes), SD card socket problems, brittle hinges and to top it off the sticker fell off. What a rip off and I cannot believe people are still pushing this crap!

  11. becky Says:

    lenovo ideapad nothing but trouble. I’ve owned at least six laptop brands and bought this one for flip function. That is the ONLY thing it does well. I have owned it for five months and still is unusable due to a different bug everytime I try to use it. Loading problems, crashing problems, now is loaded with popups I can’t seem to get rid of. Each time I call tech support, they do something and it works again for a short while. Just when I think all is going to be good, some other thing. Now again only chrome works. First one browser then the other dies for awhile. Never have had this problem with any other computer. I listened to the gurus say Lenovo was so great, but my experience is the opposite. Next time will go back to reliable Dell

  12. becky Says:

    oh right – forgot to mention how bad the mousepad is on the ideapad. How many times do you have to look for just the right spot in order for the mousepad to respond………awful. Who tested these before selling???

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