Multimedia Laptop


Feb 8, 2012
I've read many many forum posts on multimedia laptops but most of the suggestions tend to gravitate towards gaming. I just want a nice multimedia laptop with good audio, video, build quality, keyboard. I don't want monstrous computing / graphics power. I have shortlisted some good candidates and I am hoping for some expert opinion to help me decide.

1. What is your budget?
>> $500 - $1000

2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering?
>> 15"

3. What screen resolution do you want?
>> 1080p

4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop?
>> Will be mostly at home but I intend to move it from desk to bed, etc.

5. How much battery life do you need?
>> not important

6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)?
>> no games.

7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo/Video editing, Etc.)
>> Heavy web surfing. Watching movies, TV. No games, photo / video editing. Remote desktop usage, productivity software usage, listening to music.

8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need?
>> 250GB is sufficient. Hybrid drive / capability would be nice. I might consider investing in a 60 GB mSATA SSD for eg.

9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links.
>> Newegg, Amazon. I'd like to stick to reputed websites.

10. How long do you want to keep your laptop?
>> 4-5 years or longer. I have a 7 year old iMac (provided by workplace) that is still not showing any signs of dieing any time soon. I'd like for my next laptop to follow a similar / respectable trend.

11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ?
>> Standard DVD burner is sufficient but not necessary.

12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons.
>> I like Lenovo - fast and courteous service, solid laptops that perform well, don't overheat. We only have Thinkpads (X, T series) and while these are fantastic laptops for work, they have washed out screens and abysmal speakers. I hope the rest of the Lenovo lineup (esp. Y500 / Y580) have better multimedia credentials.
>> I had a Toshiba U405D that was very capable of giving my 1st degree burns. I find Toshiba's service rude and poor in general. My colleagues say the same about HP as well. I find that many commercial / non-business laptops (not all) are poorly put together (like my Toshiba) and tend to fall apart in 3 years.

13. What country do you live in?
>> USA

14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
>> I don't think I need a discrete graphics card for my level of usage. Most of the laptops I've looked at / shortlisted come with discrete graphics. Ability to switch off discrete graphics would be nice to prevent overheating / unnecessary battery consumption.

15. Laptops I have shortlisted:
1) Lenovo Y500: $950 (deal), i7 3630QM, 8GB RAM, 1080p display, NVIDIA GeForce GT650M 2GB, 1TB HDD + 16 GB SSD
2) Sony S series SVS151290X: $875: i5 3210M, 4 GB RAM, 1080p IPS panel, NVIDIA GeForce GT640M LE 1GB, 500 GB 7200 rpm
3) Asus N56VJ-DH1: $910, i7 3610QM, 8GB RAM, 1080p display, NVIDIA GT 635M 2GB, 1TB HDD @ 5400 rpm.
4) Dell Inspiron 15R 7520: $900: i5 3210M 2.5 GHz, 6GB RAM, 1080p display, AMD Radeon HD 7730M 2GB, 750GB @ 5400 rpm HDD
5) HP ENVY dv6t-7200: $830, i5 3210M, 8GB RAM, 1080p panel, Intel HD4000 (or NVIDIA GT630M for extra $50), 750GB HDD @ 7200 rpm

I like the Sony, while it has average specs, it is really light and seems to have decent reviews. I haven't come across any serious deal breakers for it. I liked the Vizio 15" Thin and Light for the same reason but the keyboard / touchpad are deal breakers

I like the Asus and Lenovo models since they seems to have generally good reviews and are very future proof in terms of specs but aren't as light (6 lbs roughly) as the Sony (4.42 lbs). Still weight isn't a huge deal breaker here.

I haven't read much about the HP and Dell models but I like the fact that the HP has beats audio.

Please let me know if I left something out.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y series have good speakers. Definitely better than the speakers on my ThinkPad T40 laptop from ye 'ol days of yore. The IdeaPad Y500 makes for a good gaming laptop, but it is overkill for mere multimedia.

I have the previous generation Y470 I don't really have time to play games anymore, but I do listen to music through the speakers when I am researching / studying. On a few occasions I watch videos (youtube, DVDs) with it. The JBL speakers are pretty good when it comes to laptop speakers. The only real bad thing about it is the low 1366x768 screen resolution.

The only thing I don't like about the Y500 is the short battery life. I believe at best it can barely break 3 hours of battery life. Not a big deal if you intend on keeping plugged in. If you are going to be using a laptop on your bed, then I recommend you get a cooling pad for it rather than placing it directly onto your bed since many laptops have air intake vents on the underside of the laptop. Blocking them is a very effective means of causing the laptop to overheat.

Sony's laptops are generally lighter than average and that is a good thing. However, one bad thing that I keep hearing about them is the below average customer service / support should you ever encounter trouble with a Sony laptop.


Feb 8, 2012
I agree, most laptops in that list are overspecced for what I need. Unfortunately, more often than not, when I ask for a punchy 1080p screen with good (branded) speakers, and solid build quality, I inevitably have to opt for a roughy fully loaded laptop with monstrous internals.

My first laptop had awesome JBL speakers which is why may be why I have a soft spot for the Y5XX series. Seems like the Sony is a good fit for me. That said, with the exception of the 1080p IPS panel, I can get everything else that the Sony offers from a $550 laptop. So, $850 seems quite rich for what the Sony offers. I do understand that I might lose out on nice perks like backlit keyboard on lower end laptops.

Are there other alternatives that might suit me better?

Thank you for your time