Lenovo w520 Review

The Lenovo w520.  It’s a very well constructed laptop that offers incredible performance when well-spec’d.

Lenovo bills this as a portable workstation for graphics professionals, and when looking at the list of features it certainly appears to fit the description.  It offers a wide-gamut screen, X-Rite Huey display profiler built right into the palm rest, integrated card reader.  Upon closer inspection, however, things start to fall apart.  First, the card reader only supports the smaller consumer-grade cards.  CF cards are not supported, which means it’s useless to most of us pro shooters.  The X-Rite product works fine, I have no complaints there, but the biggest problem?  The screen!

In spite of Lenovo’s claim that this is a wide-gamut display with something like 90+% NTSC, the experience of the screen is absolute crap.  They may have put a high-end backlight in the unit, but that can’t make up for the fact that they clearly went with the cheapest possible TN glass they could find.  Off-axis color shift is so bad that you can never quite be sure which “version” is the real one.  Even when on-axis, colors look metallic and fake.  It reminds me so much of those early generation office class flat panels; Lenovo should really be embarrassed.  This is such a huge disappointment after the w520’s predecessor, the w510, which used a beautiful IPS panel.

So what’s the solution?  Ebay, of course!  I would have loved this laptop, and could have forgiven it’s other more minor flaws, but I could never get even quick-n-dirty color correction done on its screen.

Laptops with IPS panels in them can be a real bitch to find.  Not many come along all that often.  I’m primarily a PC guy, but IPS screens are so important to me I even check out Apple’s lineup from time to time.  So far all I hear is that they too are using TN tech.  (To be fair, their screens do look good, but I still want the real deal.)

So what’s the solution?  Stay tuned.  It’s already been ordered, and is scheduled to arrive next week.

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