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Lenovo IdeaPad Y400 and Y500: inexpensive notebooks with swappable drive bays

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The newly announced Lenovo IdeaPad Y400 and Y500 offer low price tags and a swappable drive bay that will allow users to add a discrete graphics card, extra storage, or a cooling fan.

IdeaPad Y500 crop
IdeaPad Y500 crop

Lenovo bills its ideaPad Y series laptops as mobile entertainment machines, aimed at delivering premiere gaming and media experiences without breaking the bank. Today the company added two new models to their lineup: the 14-inch IdeaPad Y400, and 15.6-inch IdeaPad Y500. Both are equipped with Lenovo's UltraBay, a swappable drive bay typically found in Lenovo's ThinkPad line. The UltraBay will allow users to swap in a discrete graphics card, more storage space, or an additional cooling fan; the bays will be offered as accessories at select retail and online stores, though there's currently no word on pricing or availability. The laptops also include JBL speakers and Dolby Home Theater audio software.

There are some disconcerting points: the 14- and 15.6-inch displays are both saddled with a 1366 x 768 resolution, and battery life is quoted at a mere three hours. The Y400 and Y500 are also a bit on the heavy side, weighing in at 5.5 and 6.4 pounds, respectively; we noticed many of the same problems when we checked out the Lenovo IdeaPad Y480. The Y400 and Y500 can be configured to include Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors, an Nvidia GeForce GT 650M GPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB hard drive with a 16GB SSD cache. Both notebooks will be available in October at a starting price of $649.