Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 review

1 Sep 2010

A quality consumer laptop with some novel multimedia features, and reasonably priced too

Price when reviewed: 
651(£651 inc VAT)
5

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.

Lenovo IdeaPad Z560

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £554
Price inc VAT £651
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 5
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 378 x 253 x 38mm (WDH)
Weight 2.580kg
Travelling weight 2.9kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-450M
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce 310M
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Optical disc technology DVD writer
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 1
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel 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
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type touchpad
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

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