I bought a Lenovo Yoga 2 almost as an impulse just over a year ago, because it had a wonderful keyboard that was backlit. Some Lenovo laptops do have the best keyboards in the industry, owing to their IBM legacy. (Most laptop keyboards are awful due to the thin size not providing sufficient space for key travel or indented keytops -- and excellent keyboards are crucial to professional writers.)
The ill-fated Yoga 2 by Lenovo soon to be pining for the fiords
(image credit Digital Trends)
Anyhow, no sooner did I get it home that I discovered this $1200-laptop had all kinds of problems:
- The positions of the Ctrl and Fn keys were reversed, a problem for a touch typists like me.
- Lenovo realized the problem too late, and so "fixed" it in the BIOS with a setting to reverse the function of the two buttons. But now I had an Ctrl key labelled Fn and an Fn key labelled Ctrl.
- The touchpad was sloppy (too much give), and often did not register a tap. It would scroll the screen at random times.
- It came also with a touch point nub, but I have never liked them -- or used them. (I once had a Toshiba laptop with that input device, but found it awful even back then.)
- I was ready to replace the memory modules to expand the RAM to 8GB when I discovered the RAM is soldered to the motherboard. That was a major blow.
But I was prepared to live with the limitations. Even after that whole spy software thing, which didn't bother me, because my model was expensive enough so that Lenovo didn't need to make more money off me by selling my information.
But then the final straw(s). Three months after the warranty expired, the memory went bad. The symptom was that Windows would refuse to finish starting up, each time complaining of a different problem. After a week of tinkering, I came across a hardware check utility in the BIOS, which takes about four hours to run. It found errors in the RAM.
Then the frustrations piled on. I went to the Lenovo Web site, but found that they are only interested in talking to you when you want to buy a system. Once the warranty is over, they provide almost no assistance. After a few days of on and off again navigation of their Web site, I finally determined the nearest Authorized Lenovo Repair Center.
They agreed that the RAM was bad, but that the entire motherboard would have to be replaced -- because the RAM was soldered in. The estimate for parts and labour came to around CDN$1,500 -- the motherboard alone costing US$950 from Lenovo. (I have since found non-Lenovo sources for the motherboard at US$400, and I can do the install myself).
First I thought I'd get another Lenovo because of the excellent keyboard, but then thought, "Why reward them for poor service and a poorly-made product?" So instead I got an HP Spectre X360 for about the same price, but with more features:
- 8GB RAM (vs 4GB)
- 2.3GHz i5 CPU (vs 1.7GHz i5 CPU)
- 256GB replaceable solid state drive (vs 128GB replaceable SSD)
- Three USB3 ports, all powered (vs two USB3 ports, only one powered)
- Full-size HDMI port (vs mini HDMI port, requiring an adapter)
- miniDisplayPort (vs none)
- One-piece machined aluminum body (vs plastic body)
- Decent touch pad (vs a sloppy, sometimes-unresponsive one)
- Louder speakers (vs speakers that are hard to hear when Dolby is on)
- Standard round power connector (vs proprietary rectangular one)
- Thinner and lighter with a longer-lasting battery, 7 hours (vs 4 hrs)
"Spectre" is HP's new name for its top-of-the-line laptops.The design is very clean; it arrives in a fat fancy cardboard box that looks like it should hold an XBOX or something exotic. And HP includes a black, smelly neoprene sleeve, albeit one that would cost $3 at the nearest dollar store.
The Spectre X360 has curious pricing. The one I bought has the sweet-spot compromise between price and features. Pay a bit less, and the features plummet (4GB RAM, hard drive); to get better features than the model I bought, I would have to pay HP a lot more, and so things like an i7 CPU become undesirable. The 256GB M.2 SSD I plan to replace in a year's time with a 512GB, after the warranty expires. In the meantime, I got a 128GB micoSD card with USB holder to expand the storage capacity.
HP Spectre X360
(image credit PC World)
One drawback I've found so far on the HP Spectre is the low-contrast of the backlight coming through the aluminum-color keys. Under certain lighting conditions, I can't see the letters and numbers; black would've been better.
Some features are the same between the two:
- Backlit keyboard good for fast typing
- Hi-res touch screen that pivots 360 degrees
- SD slot
- Soldered-in RAM (crossin' my fingers!)
So that's why I'll never get another Lenovo.