Lenovo B50-30, First Take: A Windows notebook at a Chromebook price point

Lenovo B50-30, First Take: A Windows notebook at a Chromebook price point

Summary: If you're envious of the affordability of Chrome OS laptops, but need to run Windows applications, Lenovo's 15.6-inch B50-30 has much to recommend it.

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Low-cost business notebooks don't get much less expensive than the Lenovo B50-30, which starts at £190.83 (ex. VAT, £229 inc. VAT). Aimed at the small business market, the 15.6-inch B50-30 is a basic but functional Windows notebook that'll handle everyday workloads such as email, web browsing and low-level document/spreadsheet work.

lenovo-b50-main
Lenovo's B50-30 is an affordable 15.6-inch Windows notebook aimed at small businesses. Image: Lenovo

The Lenovo B50-30 is powered by Intel's 2.16/2.41GHz dual-core Celeron N2830 processor and is supported by 4GB of RAM (expandable to a maximum of 8GB). It's not an especially speedy combination, and we noticed pauses for applications to open and websites to resolve during the review period. How you perceive the B50-30's performance will depend on how demanding your favourite apps are, how much you multitask and your patience.

Build quality is very solid as far as the chassis is concerned, and if you don't mind lugging 2.15kg (or 2.32kg with the optional optical drive), this notebook should survive in transit without a protective case. The keyboard is another matter: as a light-touch typist, I found it comfortable to use — but when I started bashing the keys there was a significant degree of flex in the keyboard that heavier-handed typists may find unacceptable.

The keyboard layout is rather good. The 38cm by 26.2cm by 2.47cm chassis means there's space for a slightly reduced-size number pad and a long row above the number keys comprising no fewer than 20 keys, including the 12 Fn keys. The touchpad, which has a pair of physical buttons, is responsive and functional but does not support multitouch gestures.

The large 15.6-inch screen has a matte finish, as befits a business-focused notebook. It's bright enough for everyday use, but low resolution at 1,366 by 768 pixels. There's no touchscreen option.

A big laptop like this has room for an optical drive. There are also three USB ports, although only one of them is USB 3.0. You also get an Ethernet (RJ-45) port plus VGA and HDMI connectors. There's a headset/microphone combo jack and an SD card reader too.

The 320GB hard drive should be large enough for most needs. For wireless connectivity there's 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n, with Bluetooth 4.0 optional. Lenovo claims up to six hours' battery life for the B50-30.

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Lenovo's extensive software bundle includes a nice Settings utility. Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

Windows 8.1 is accompanied by quite a lot of extra Lenovo software, including face-recognition login via Lenovo VeriFace Pro and the 720p webcam that sits above the screen, McAfee LiveSafe Internet Security and various other apps including a rather nice Lenovo Settings utility that lets you manage various system features and settings.

You can't expect a notebook that starts at £190.83 (ex. VAT, £229 inc. VAT) to be brimming with bells and whistles, but you have every right to expect a solid workhorse. Although it's a moderate performer and only has one USB 3.0 port, the Lenovo B50-30 is an excellent option for those seeking a low-cost Windows laptop.

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Topics: Laptops, Lenovo, Mobility, Reviews

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82 comments
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  • Windows w/Bing

    The article mentions Windows 8.1. Is this the Windows w/Bing option or did the manufacturer license Windows? How much cheaper would it be if they had used the Windows w/Bing option?
    robradina@...
    • It's not Windows 8 with Bing

      That option is the free version that is only available for sub-9" touchscreen devices (mainly tablets) that sell for under $249US. As with XP Home for ULCPC's, Vista Home Basic, and 7 Starter, Microsoft has a whole list of hardware requirements (read: limitations) on which an OEM can put one of these cost-reduced versions of Windows. For a standard system, an OEM is also required to logo-certify it, and Windows 8 with Bing doesn't require that either. I'm not sure if all of the info about Windows 8 with Bing is in the Windows hardware certification docs, but if it's anywhere, it'll be there.
      Joe_Raby
      • Windows 8 with Bing is available on screens about 9 inches

        It is just offered at a reduced price. Not sure what the scaling is though
        Emacho
        • That should say "screens above 9"

          n/t
          Emacho
    • I Would Stay Away From Any None "Core" Intel CPU...

      The Celeron had always been slow garbage. If you have the patience, save you money and get the entry level i3. It's personally a little too lighweight for me processing wise. The sweet spot is the i5, which is often a better mobile value than the i7, in my opinion (unless of course you're buying a Desktop, and in that case the quad i7 can't be beat).

      However, if you are desperate, low on cash, and prefer an Intel Windows PC, then just go for it. Anything is better than AMD. Every AMD system I ever purchased has died!

      On the other hand, I've NEVER had an Intel system die on me, that's a fact. The software or the hardware would become outdated, but the system would boot up and work, until I either reformatted the drive and sold the system or removed the HDD and trashed it.
      orandy
      • I've had both types die on me

        I've had more Intel's die than AMD, but have had both die. Most times, it's sheer user negligence (I have been doing tablet, PC, laptop repair on-the-side for many years now).

        I would *NEVER* buy a Celeron! There have been a few of them that will perform moderately-well, when you first set up the system but, after a week or two of use, you get the "snail-crawl" syndrome. Celeron is the "Windows/ME" of the Intel chips. It's crippled and dumbed-down.

        Oh, and another strike against this: It has Windows 8.x. As you can see, the manufacturers, vendors, etc. are practically having to "give away" these machines, to get people to swallow Windows 8. *EVERY* USER I've spoken with who has Windows 8 absolutely HATES it! Nobody ever says that about Android or iOS (or Windows 7).

        Personally, I have found Windows 8.x to be functional, and it pretty much runs most things that were able to run under Windows 7. It's just that the general tech and user populations seem to feel they are being "force-fed" a new operating system over which they had almost ZERO input; and which is not nearly as aesthetically-pleasing as the competition's offerings nor as the previous version of Windows.

        Several of my clients have said words to the effect of: "[Windows 8] is downright confusing, difficult to use, and the interface is ugly, squarish, blocky and clunky."
        bitdoctor
        • Every User You Have Spoken To?

          You must not talk to many people or have many clients. You must live mostly in shell.
          MichaelInMA
          • Nice try

            I have over 30,000 clients, fyi. But, thanks for playing.
            bitdoctor
          • An you have spoke to each one about Windows 8?

            nt
            thekman58
          • Shenanigans

            Its fine not to like an OS or claim most people you hang out with don't seem to like it.

            But to present yourself as an expert or authority on the subject and then claim no one likes it at all is either unparalleled ignorance or just flat out lying.

            A short google search will reveal many respected tech sites like Tom's Hardware giving it high marks as well as thousands of consumer reviews on Amazon for popular windows 8 machines like Lenovo's Yoga, Asus T100 or Surface Pro 3, which is cruising right around 4.5 stars last time I checked giving it higher marks than just about anything one can buy on that site.
            mfgillia
        • agree 100%

          That said people hate 8 so much that you can get great deals on the refurbs at walmart. Literally people return the new units within two weeks and then go out and order a win7 model.
          cdaringer@...
        • celeron of past

          normally Id agree with you about the celeron but over the last year or 2, these chips arent so bad. When you referenced windows ME when using them, I completely agreed. Even the netbooks were throw aways. But Ive had much better experience with celerons over the last 1-2 years. Specifically as endpoints. And lets be honest - if you are comparing the chrome book with the Celeron - the celeron will win. If you are comparing a dual core or more iChip from intel, of course the celeron will pale in comparison.
          JABBER_WOLF
    • Work at home special report.........www.Works23.us

      Start working from home! Great job for students, stay-at-home moms or anyone needing an extra income... You only need a computer and a reliable internet connection... Make $90 hourly and up to $12000 a month by following link at the bottom and signing up... You can have your first check by the end of this week­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­..........................http://x.co/5CSVJ
      Acantiming
    • Work at home special report.........www.Works23.us

      Start working from home! Great job for students, stay-at-home moms or anyone needing an extra income... You only need a computer and a reliable internet connection... Make $90 hourly and up to $12000 a month by following link at the bottom and signing up... You can have your first check by the end of this week­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­..................http://x.co/5CSdm
      Acantiming
  • Good value for money.

    Now imagine a fool paying £225 for an entry level Chromebook which only runs a browser and google spyware...
    Owl:Net
    • If we all had your wisdom

      the world would be a better place.
      /s
      daikon
      • Actually he's right?

        Why by a scaled down software machine for virtually the same price? When you can get a decent machine that does WAY more than a Chromebook?
        ScanBack
        • I read the article, so I know...

          "How you perceive the B50-30's performance will depend on how demanding your favourite apps are, how much you multitask and your patience."
          blatanville
          • Pointless

            A Windows 8.X laptop without touch is pointless.
            MichaelInMA
        • Why Chromebook

          Buying Chromebooks for the price is stupid. They are great because they are locked down, low maintenance devices. Which is great for some and useless for others.
          Sacr