For those that are looking for a sturdy laptop at a low price, the Lenovo G550 does an excellent job. With its well designed and comfortable keyboard, the G550 provides a very well designed layout for extended use which is good since they have improved the running time over their previous model. The downside is that the G550 has dropped a number of ports found in the previous G530 that will be missed and its $600 price tag is a bit higher than similar equipped laptops
The chassis is constructed entirely of plastic, but where most budget notebooks might feel flexible or flimsy, the G550 feels like a solid block of sturdy material. When talking about the palm rest on most notebooks, including ThinkPads, notebooks with good support still show some flex under a very strong grip. Somehow squeezing the palm rests on the G550 feels like you are trying to squeeze a rock. Other areas of the notebook share the same toughness, including the keyboard and surrounding trim.
The 15.6″ LCD is average compared to most 15-16″ notebooks, with bright and vibrant colors and decent viewing angles. The G550’s big change is the transition away from the 16:10 screen size to the wider (but shorter) 16:9 panels. The screen offers a glossy surface, which helps improve colors and contrast at the cost of added reflections and glare. Compared to “frameless” displays the reflections were tolerable as long as you were not outside under direct sunlight. Screen brightness was adequate for viewing in bright office conditions, but might not cut it outside unless it is an overcast day. Vertical viewing angles were adequate with a broad viewing sweet spot measuring 30 degrees forward or back before colors started to wash out or invert. Horizontal view angles were much better, showing minimal color distortion at steep angles.
While the improvements are welcome, there are still some problems. For starters, the keyboard isn’t the same quality as those found on more expensive Lenovo laptops, and we found the keys a little spongy. There’s a thin numerical keypad squeezed in, but it’s so small that it’s difficult to use comfortably. We’d have preferred the space to be used for a better keyboard. The touchpad could do with a textured surface to make using it more comfortable and accurate.
The Intel Pentium Dual-Core T4200 processor handles the main processing. The clock speed of this processor is 2GHz. There is a 3GB DDR2 RAM housed in this device. The hard drive has a 250GB capacity. A DVD read/write drive is also fitted into this laptop. The operating system that comes pre-loaded is the Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium edition.
The laptops offer constant connectivity with WiFi, Ethernet and optional Bluetooth. They also come with VeriFace technology and built-in cameras. The G550 laptop comes equipped with a numeric keypad for ease in logging data, high speed memory, the latest Intel® Centrino®2 processor technology and choices of NVIDIA graphics.
One of the big problems of the G530 was the battery life. The G550 uses a smaller battery but actually provides a longer running time than the older version and more on par with other budget laptops. Expect roughly three and a half to four hours of typical usage with two and a half when playing back video.
The Lenovo G550 is a very solid and durable notebook, but now is missing some of the features that were standard on the previous revision. From what could only be considered cost-cutting measures, Lenovo took away one USB port, removed the ExpressCard slot, and moved to an ALPS touchpad. These types of changes might not look as bad if the retail price also dropped, but it is selling for the same price as (if not slightly more than) the previous model. I would still gladly take this model over a lot of the small-business targeted notebooks on the market, but it is just a shame that it is no longer as nice as it once was.