Lenovo: Best and Worst Laptop Brands 2015

laptop-Lenovo-lead

Lenovo has been going through a rough patch. The brand’s consumer laptops were preloaded with adware that left users open to security attacks, although the company has since apologized and removed the offending software. But that’s not the only issue. In our undercover testing, Lenovo’s tech support was subpar. Plus, the review ratings haven’t been as strong as in years past, and the quality of the company’s keyboards and touchpads has been mixed. All that added up to Lenovo falling from an excellent second place last year to sixth in this year’s Best and Worst Brands survey. Lenovo’s lineup offers a good mix of value and selection, and it generally offers high-quality business notebooks, but that wasn’t enough to avoid a middling overall score.

best-laptop-Lenovo-scorecard

Reviews (14 out of 20)

Slipping a bit this year, Lenovo had only one four-star notebook, the ThinkPad W540, which also earned an Editors’ Choice award. All of the other systems we reviewed received either 3.5 or 3 stars — not bad, but not what we’ve come to expect from one of the leading notebook makers. The new X1 Carbon and other ThinkPads for 2015 look strong, though.

Tech Support (9 out of 20)

Despite some cosmetic changes to its customer support site, Lenovo’s tech assistance has not improved appreciably in the last couple of years. We found it far too difficult to find answers to basic questions about Lenovo notebooks online. The company’s phone support agents are prepared to help you if you have a broken laptop, but don’t hold your breath if your questions have to do with operating systems or settings. We were happy to discover the helpfulness of @LenovoSupport on Twitter, despite radio silence from @Lenovo and the company’s Facebook page.

Design (12 out of 15)

laptop-Lenovo-design

Lenovo continues to flip the script on its competitors, churning out a Yoga laptop for every use case. The Yoga 3 Pro swaps the 360-degree hinges for a classy-looking watchband design that allows the notebook to fold completely flat. Lenovo also applied the Yoga’s flexibility to the ThinkPad Yoga 11e, creating one of the first hybrid Chromebooks.

MORE: Best Lenovo Laptops

The company added an innovative Lift ‘n’ Lock keyboard design to the business-centric ThinkPad Yoga 14. As visually stimulating as the Yoga series is, the company’s ThinkPads (ThinkPad W540 and ThinkPad X1 Carbon) and Y series (Y40, Y50, Y70 Touch and Y50-70 Touch), haven’t updated their aesthetics in a long time.

Keyboard & Touchpad (12 out of 15)

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Lenovo has a long-standing reputation as a leader in keyboards, but a number of its consumer models don’t live up to this high standard. The Y40, Y50, Yoga 2 13-inch and Y50-70 touch keyboards all suffer from a mushy, shallow feel. The company’s ThinkPad T and W series laptops have the best keyboards of any notebooks in the world, with deep travel and the crispest feedback anywhere. However, some thinner ThinkPads, such as the X240 and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, have slightly shallower travel.

Lenovo’s consumer notebooks generally have accurate touchpads, though we did notice some stickiness on the Yoga 3 Pro and inconsistent palm rejection on the Y50. All of the ThinkPads, except the education-centric Yoga 11e, have the famous red TrackPoint pointing stick, which provides an accurate, efficient way to navigate. In 2015, the TrackPoints will once again have their own mouse buttons after having them built into the top of the touchpad in 2013 and 2014. For those who don’t like the red nubs, the ThinkPad touchpads also have a slick and accurate feel.

Display (8 out of 10)

Although its mean brightness of 244 nits falls below average, Lenovo makes a lot of notebooks with sharp, colorful displays for both the business and consumer space. Most of the ThinkPads have screens that are available in 1080p or higher resolution, with the X1 Carbon (2560 x 1440 pixels) and W540 (2880 x 1600p) providing bright, vibrant images. The entertainment-focused Y70 Touch delivers a vivid screen (275 nits), full 1080p resolution and stunning color (100 percent of the sRGB gamut), while the flexible Yoga 3 Pro has an eye-popping 3200 x 1800p screen that can display 99.3 percent of the sRGB gamut. As with most brands, Lenovo’s lower-cost systems had dimmer, less colorful displays.

Innovation (3 out of 5)

Even as sleek, slim and bendable laptops become ubiquitous, Lenovo still finds ways to stand out among its competitors. The company’s new LaVie Z is the world’s lightest laptop at just 1.72 pounds, and comes as either a standard clamshell or a Yoga-style convertible design. The new Yoga 3 improves on the notebook’s ultraflexible hinge while adding a taste of luxury watch-inspired style. The company brought a touch-enabled, rotating display to the Chromebook with the N20p, though the notebook suffers from poor viewing angles.

MORE: Best Laptops

Not all of Lenovo’s innovations were hits — the company added context-sensitive keys to the ThinkPad X1 Carbon via an ambitious Adaptive Function Row, but the feature proved to be more inconvenient than standard F keys. The altered Function row won’t be returning on future models.

Audio (3 out of 5)

Audio quality is a toss-up when it comes to Lenovo; high-end laptops offered impressive sound, while budget devices were lacking. The $299 Lenovo N20p Chromebook notched 86 decibels, and sounded distorted and tinny overall, but the $1,550 Lenovo Y50-70 Touch measured 88 dB with its JBL speakers and blasted rich, vibrant audio. On average, Lenovo notebooks measured 85 dB, which is slightly softer than the category average.

Value & Selection (4 out of 5)

Lenovo continues its tradition of supplying a solid selection of home and business notebooks, along with the widest range of 2-in-1s and hybrids. Lenovo’s gaming PCs do a decent job of competing on price, offering a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD/8GB SSD hybrid drive, all for $1,230. Even better are the frequent discounts; while we were working on this year’s report, Lenovo was bumping storage up to a 512GB SSD for just an extra $170, which is a steal.

Comparing Ultrabooks, Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon doesn’t pack quite as much value as Dell’s XPS 13 when equipped with a 5th-generation Intel Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, for a total price of $1,079. An XPS 13 with similar specs costs just $900, although the X1 Carbon does come with a slightly larger 14-inch display and more durability features.

Software (1 out of 5)

laptop-Lenovo-software

Lenovo has apologized for preloading dangerous adware called Superfish onto its laptops, and the company has issued a removal tool for that program. However, that doesn’t instantly repair the loss of trust in the brand’s software. In the past, we’ve liked Lenovo’s software offerings, such as One Key Recovery for instant backup, QuickConnect for controlling your business laptop with your Android phone and QuickCast for sharing data across devices.

We appreciate the company’s helpful DOit suite of apps, which is new this year. You’ll get SHAREit for speedy file transfer over Wi-Fi Direct, and SYNCit to back up contacts, SMS messages and call logs in the cloud. As a result of the Superfish fiasco, Lenovo says it will stop preloading third-party bloatware on its systems once Windows 10 arrives. Smart move.

Best & Worst Laptop Brands 2015

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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???

  13. SS Says:

    I wouldn’t say the worst brand but definitely not the best. I’ve recently owned 2 Lenovo laptops a Z and T series. Both had batteries which failed after 1 year and were no longer covered by the warranty which meant I have to fork out 25-30% the new value of a laptop for a battery. Also the track pad sucks, the process often goes into a spin resulting in no response.

  14. Steven Says:

    I suggest to buy a Dell to avoid warranty issues. Lenovo IWS and upgrade warranties are not accepted in many countries. Something I never experienced with Dell.

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