Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 review
A quality consumer laptop with some novel multimedia features, and reasonably priced too
Lenovo's business-orientated ThinkPad range is no stranger to PC Pro's A List, and now the first of its newly-redesigned IdeaPad models has landed on our doorstep. The IdeaPad Z560 isn't going to have it easy, though: it joins legions of 15.6in notebooks all desperate to ensnare the casual consumer with promises of power, poise and affordability.
It's certainly good looking. Its glossy black lid is now an elderly design cliché, but while the chassis weighs in at a hefty 2.58kg, the smooth curves and bold Lenovo logo still manage to make many of its competitors look decidedly frumpy. The brushed aluminium interior, meanwhile, shuns gaudiness and colour for a monochromatic, classy feel. Consumer laptop this may be, but it looks like it means business.
Build quality isn't up to bullet-proof ThinkPad standards, the IdeaPad's glossy lid feels well up to protecting the TFT panel within. The base and wristrest also prove impressively taut and stiff. Only the area around the DVD writer feels a bit creaky: picking the laptop up by its corner occasionally produced unpleasant creaks as the DVD writer flexed in its moorings.
We're willing to forgive such minor transgressions in light of the rather excellent keyboard, however. The Scrabble-tile keys provide a lovely feel, and despite the narrow-right shift key (Lenovo has decided to cram the cursor keys in alongside) the layout makes for supremely pleasant typing. The touchpad is less praiseworthy: depressing the soft-feeling buttons often saw our thumbs foul the trackpad and arrest the pointer in its tracks, making drag and drop operations aggravatingly tricky.
The ubiquitous blue ThinkVantage button, ever-present on Lenovo's business laptops, is replaced with a row of touch-sensitive buttons along the keyboard's top edge. A quick dab of the finger is all it takes to mute the volume or slow the cooling fans down for quiet operation, while the other two buttons give one-touch access to Lenovo's OneKey Theater mode and Energy Management application.
Dab the OneKey Theater mode button while watching a movie, and you'll be glad you did. The tinny speakers sound lightweight at first, but the OneKey Theater mode enables Dolby's Audio Enhancer software, which gives audio more body and substance. Image quality darkens slightly, too, which seems to give movies and images a touch more solidity. DisplayMate soon revealed these benefits come at the cost of crushed blacks and some banding in greyscale ramps, however.
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||378 x 253 x 38mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i5-450M|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||Nvidia GeForce 310M|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Optical disc technology||DVD writer|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||1,000Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|PC Card slots||0|
|USB ports (downstream)||3|
|PS/2 mouse port||no|
|9-pin serial ports||0|
|Electrical S/PDIF audio ports||0|
|SD card reader||yes|
|Memory Stick reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Compact Flash reader||no|
|Pointing device type||touchpad|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||3hr 49min|
|Battery life, heavy use||56min|
|Overall application benchmark score||1.67|
|Office application benchmark score||1.53|
|2D graphics application benchmark score||1.70|
|Encoding application benchmark score||1.47|
|Multitasking application benchmark score||2.00|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||36fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|