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The opposite of Apple: A Mac user's weird experience buying a PC laptop

John Moltz | Jan. 21, 2015
John Moltz bought a PC for his son. Darn kids and their video games.

After wandering through this morass for a while, I finally settled on a Y40, which features a 14-inch screen, a 2GB Radeon video card, a 2.0GHz i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a spinning 1TB hard drive. The price for that configuration is $1,199 but, for you, because Lenovo likes you, it's $719 with an "eCoupon." The next model up is $1,179, but you can get it for $749 "After Instant Savings." I have no idea what the point of having "eCoupons" or "Instant Savings" is unless it's to give you the feeling of a toupé-wearing car salesman who would love to set you up with a laptop today, but he has to talk to his manager first.

Despite the ridiculous pricing charade, you truly cannot get a MacBook with 8GB of RAM and a dedicated graphics card for $719. And there's a reason for that. The web store said it wouldn't ship for 8 to 10 days, but it actually shipped the following day.

What's in the box?
The unboxing experience was not Apple-esque, but it was, at least, minimally appointed. The device did not have an optical drive so there were no discs included and only a few pieces of paper, most of which were offers for services like three free months of Google Play Music. The box was small like a MacBook box, with the laptop suspended in styrofoam, wrapped in plastic and, of course, adorned with stickers.

I had heard decent things about the build quality and the unit did feel a lot better than I expected it to. It's not all plastic, and the plastic that exists is decent. The keyboard is not backlit but, hey, you can't get everything for $719. Instead, the keys are painted red around the sides to provide the illusion of backlighting. Which is really not the same thing at all.

There's a snake in my boot!
Then we get to the software, which is a mixed bag ranging from good to bad to ugly and back to bad again. The setup process was relatively smooth. However, despite my somewhat favorable first impression of Windows 8 and the fact that I still like the interface formerly known as "Metro," it's ultimately a confusing mishmash of touch-optimized and desktop-optimized interface elements. Some settings, for example, can be changed by accessing the charm bar, but for the majority you still need to go into the Control Panel in the desktop environment. It's meant to provide quick access to frequently used settings when in touch mode, but it's absolutely meaningless on a device without a touch screen, which this device is.

Just as the outside of the machine is festooned with stickers, the inside is festooned with third-party software. McAfee's antivirus software is installed by default, but it's a subscription service. Once it runs out, McAfee does nothing but incessantly pop up to nag you to buy a subscription. There are also almost a dozen applications from Lenovo, few of which I know the purpose of so I've uninstalled most of them.

 

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