Pros & Cons:
The price tag of somewhere under $400 is the initial eye catching feature of this machine. However, reliable components under the hood crowned by two USB 3.0 ports and Windows 8 make this a special bargain. There is always the question of whether Windows 8 is a Pro or a Con. If you want the latest, most secure version of Windows, it is clearly a Pro. If you don't want to learn a new OS, and want the familiarity of Windows 7, it is a Con. Besides the USB 3.0 ports, there is nothing else “special” about the hardware in this laptop.
As entry level laptops go, the Lenovo G500 15.6 inch laptop is at the top of the heap. The components are fairly standard for lower priced laptops, with a 500 GB hard drive, a dual core Intel Pentium processor, 4 GB RAM and Intel HD graphics. Several items set this laptop apart from the herd, however. First, two USB 3.0 slots are included. Second, this Lenovo is running Windows 8. Third is the price. The G500 is up to $100 less expensive than other entry level laptops without the USB 3.0 slots.
The most striking feature on this new entry level contender is the inclusion of 2 each USB 3.0 ports. USB 3.0 is the new standard, and is up to about 10 times faster than USB 2.0. Current flash drives, external hard drives, and other peripherals are already available in USB 3.0 and have been for quite some time now. Other entry level notebooks do not include USB 2.0 ports; as far as we at connectedelectrons.com can tell, this is the first and only entry level laptop to include USB 3.0. Making this more remarkable is that fact that this is a sub-$400 laptop! Windows 8, depending on your comfort with a new operating system, also sets this laptop apart from it's peers. Most entry level laptops still run Windows 7. Lenovo also makes laptops at the very high end of the market, especially their Carbon X1 line. Their marketing claims that they are bringing some of that engineering expertise to bear on the G500 line and that the laptop is “optimized” for Windows 8. Not too many details are provided, however.
When looking at the entry level G500 line from Lenovo, in particular the sub-$400 entries, pay special attention to the processor. The laptop that we reviewed for this article, and the one linked to in this article, features the Intel Pentium B960 running at 2.2 GHz. This is a modern, powerful, reliable, dual-core processor that will handle most computing tasks with ease. Be aware that at these low price points there are also G500 models with Intel Celeron 1000M processors running at 1.8 GHz. These Celeron processors will provide much less computing power than the B960! Please be quite careful; there is no cost savings in the laptops with the Celeron so you are simply getting a lesser product and no benefit at all with those options.
The 500 GB, 5400 RPM hard drive, 4 GB RAM and HD Webcam are fairly standard features that round out the G500. For battery life, expect about five hours.
The best entry level notebook that we have seen, period. With one large caveat. If you don't want Windows 8, look elsewhere. For a similar Windows 7 entry level laptop, check out our review of the Acer Aspire NX.M12AA.032.
Click here to buy the Lenovo G500 from Amazon.com and to get further information.