Review: Lenovo ideapad Y560

by Lee Hopkins on October 28, 2010

in reviews,tools

lenovo ideapad y560

A little while back I mentioned that Lenovo, the maker of the business-friendly ThinkPads, had just released some domestic-level machines into the Australian market.

One of these, the Y560, was the subject of a competition that I ran and that Pita Norris from Queensland won.

I’ve been using the ideapad myself (not Pita’s one – she get’s one that’s still fresh in the box) for domestic consumption and I have to say I’m delighted.

It does all that I ask it to, particularly around video.

You see, Mrs BetterComms and I have become ‘tragics’ for the BBC tv show Spooks; I bought the boxed set of series 1-7 as a gift for her and we have methodically worked our way through the entire set, night after night watching two or three episodes.

Personally, I miss Christine, the CIA station master, whereas Mrs BC is still in shock (with frequent bouts of distraught wailing) after Adam was killed, but both are neither here nor there. Fellow Spooks tragics will know who I am talking about and why.

We’ve watched the show both on the laptop’s generous 15.6” HD widescreen and also with a 24” monitor connected and provide give excellent watching.

I’ve also watched a whole dvd on just battery power, with the battery lasting a very crisp 2 hours precisely, not a minute more, not a minute less, which is good going and certainly enough to keep you entertained on most flights in Australia should the in-flight entertainment be lacking. Connect up the power supply to a converter that plugs into your cigarette lighter and you have a great way of entertaining the young-un’s in the back seat for hours at a time.

I’m also impressed by the processing power – 4gb of ram kept the Intel ARD 2.40G processor in good company and never raised the fan noise, even when I was engaging in some cpu-draining video processing and rendering (and the 1gb ATI Mobility Radeon card helped too).

But noise (of the ‘nice’ music and speech variety) was certainly a-plenty and appreciated via the JBL speakers. Nothing scratchy or boomy about the sound coming out of them – fabulous!

The various control buttons (volume, etc.) are easy to find and are kept alight so you can find them in the dark (very handy).

Lenovo include nifty little ‘Spooks-friendly’ eye-recognition software on startup and re-awakening from slumber. It’s a handy way of bypassing all the login kerfuffle, but you need a fair amount of light shining on your face for it to work. More of a gimmick than a real safety feature, but it does at least allow someone who tries to access your computer via your keyboard the opportunity to leave you a message.

Lenovo also includes a ‘SlideNav’ bar that allows you to preset various applications or documents for easy opening, as easy as sliding your finger along a bar. I didn’t bother programming it myself as I knew I’d be giving the machine back, but I have no doubt it works perfectly, if every other thing about this laptop is any indication.

This being a retail customer-focused machine, it’s all glossy and shiny, with no anti-glare screen that you would find on the business-focused thinkpad, but that is to be expected. I’m just used to business machines and so got slightly peeved by wanting to wipe my fingerprints and palm prints off the casing all of the time. But then, I’m curmudgeonly like that, and I can imagine the ideapad happily occupying a teenager’s shoulder bag or someone’s ‘office on wheels’ bag. Most folks prefer, I would think, something that shines, to something dull like me and my laptops. It certainly looks sharp with its etched cover design and dark red pinstrip around the outside.

lenovo-laptop-cover-242x163I’d happily buy this ideapad for my stepchildren, knowing that they would get more than three years’ of use out of it before it needed to be tossed aside as last month’s paperweight. For what it is, a retail-focused laptop with extra video oomph, it is ideal.

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