This machine is quick. I mean really quick. But then for $5.5k (list price) it blimmin’ well should be.
Readers of this blog whose memory is not as addled as mine will remember that I once product tested Adobe’s Premiere Elements video manipulation software. My findings were not complimentary, due in large part to the slowness of the rendering process even though Adobe’s quoted specifications suggested that my laptop was suitable.
But if Adobe want to furnish me with a brand new state of the art laptop, I’m very happy to try again. Seriously; it would make for a good test and case study of why computers should be upgraded every three years.
Well, Adobe didn’t, but Lukas, Niki and the fabulous folks at Text 100, the PR agency looking after both Adobe and Lenovo, did. They lent me a Lenovo W510 Performance as a way of road-testing the Lenovo workhorse and giving Premiere Elements another try.
The W510 has four memory slots for up to 16GB of high performance 1333 MHz DDR3 memory and supports the latest Intel® Core™ i7 quad core processors. It also offers the Nvidia Quadro FX 880M GPU with 1GB VRAMAs (no idea what these are, but I’m guessing you can watch video with no dramas), and it’s the first ThinkPad to offer USB 3.0 so you can transfer data quickly – reaching speeds up to 10x the performance of USB 2.0.
Lenovo also offers a new nine cell slice battery for up to 21 hours of battery life. They also offer optional 3G connectivity leveraging EV-DO and HSPA wireless networks with Qualcomm Gobi 2000 technology (whatever that is), allowing businesses to standardise on a single hardware platform that can be deployed globally and accommodate multiple carriers to simplify international deployments. Which is cool and keeps IT department heads happy, I bet.
I couldn’t find the source file for the original BCR video I ran the Premiere Elements test on (I had accidentally deleted it), so I ran a test on another BCR video.
I’m not going to show you the results, because the results don’t show up Premiere Elements in a favourable light (their default settings and sensitivity are rubbish), but take it from me that all of my original troubles with slow rendering and no playback [read the initial review if you haven’t done so already] were solved at hyper-speed by the Lenovo.
I also processed a couple of videos for a client (I cannot show them here) using Corel ProStudio X2 and the Lenovo handled all of the video jiggery-pokery with aplomb.
Playback was crystal clear, courtesy of the superb graphics of the W510, so that any faults of the videos I created were mine, not the machine’s.
Oh, and the keyboard, which is a particular stress point for me as I hit the keys pretty hard (a legacy of my RAAF training, where I learnt to type on crusty old teletype machines that required brute force to make them work) felt delightful under my fingers.
I’ve also been slowly digitising some cherished vinyl music albums for the digital age on my existing Dell – and ‘slowly’ is the operative word; the post-recording production (such as raising the volume levels) takes forever. But when it came to digitising them on the Lenovo and raising volume levels, I at first couldn’t believe how the little brown progress bar of Adobe’s Soundbooth raced along. If you are looking to digitise an old vinyl collection of records, this laptop may be a heaven-sent answer to your prayers.
The W510 is fast. Blisteringly fast. It’s relatively light in weight (compared to my current $2k Dell laptop) and it looks ‘business like and professional’ (i.e. no fancy colours, just charcoal gray).
It’s also $5.5k to purchase (currently on ‘special offer’ for $4.5k). That’s a lot out of an IT department’s budget – you’d be wanting to get a reasonable number of years ‘life’ out of it, or a reasonable amount of high-end productivity.
It is a workhorse machine – not a laptop for occasional use, but a desktop shoe-horned into a laptop-sized container. The on-board graphic display is more than adequate, but it’s the sort of machine you hook up to a very large and expensive monitor when you get back to your desk.
It is the true mil-spec road-warrior’s machine, not the occasional user’s digital accessory. If you want a digital accessory, get a iPhone. Seriously. There is very little you can’t do with an iPhone and a good collection of cheap or free applications.
As a road-warrior myself, a frequent consumer of bitumen and airline food (not in the same journey, I hasten to add), I am in need of a new laptop – my three-year old Dell is feeling and showing its age. So do I fork out the $$ and buy a W510, or settle for something less?
It’s like asking if I would prefer to buy a BMW 7-Series or a Holden Omega; both are very good cars for their target market, yet their price tags are continents apart. A new 7-Series is outside of my perceived price range and the Omega is not refined and high-powered enough to meet my needs. I could afford the W510 at a pinch, but would I do its awesome power justice?
Somewhere in the middle is a laptop that will combine both power and personal affordability – and I’m so impressed with the Lenovo I’ve put my order in for a T510 Performance, which should last me three-to-four years and supply plenty of grunt over its lifespan. More of a BMW 5-Series, then, or Holden Calais V with all the optional extras.
But if I had the money and the business need for such well-mannered muscle, the W510 Performance would win hands down, no question.