Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 review
The Lenovo Z560 (part code M37AFUK) comes with only 2GB of RAM, so SaveOnLaptops.co.uk has created this bundle with 2GB of extra RAM. Even with this upgrade, plus a Core i3 processor, a dedicated graphics chip and a well-built and stylish chassis, the Z560 costs just £500.
We're used to seeing Lenovo's ThinkPad business laptops, which share a practical but unexciting design. The IdeaPad, on the other hand, has a glossy black lid and screen bezel. The keyboard panel is finished in a silver brushed-metal effect and there's a small indicator panel above it.
Lenovo's ThinkPad keyboards are renowned for their quality, and thankfully the IdeaPad Z560 follows in that tradition. The keys are separated but moulded into a convex shape on top so your fingertips get excellent tactile feedback.
There's a four-column numberpad to the right of the main keyboard, but it's a bit cramped. Thankfully, all the keys are still in the 'right' places. The touchpad is on the small side and has an unusual rough texture, but it's responsive and has two separate buttons with a light action, plus a vertical scrolling area.
As with most laptops, the screen is glossy and has fussy vertical viewing angles, so you'll have to adjust it carefully. The backlight is even although not as bright as we'd like and colours are dull, with a red cast. You can connect a larger external monitor, either via the analogue VGA port or the HDMI port.
An ExpressCard/34 slot could prove handy for adding peripherals such as TV tuners or extra ports. There are three USB ports, one of which shares an eSATA connection for fast external drives. There's no Bluetooth support, but you do get 802.11n WiFi and Ethernet, albeit at only 100Mbit/s.
A score of 91 in the single-threaded Image-editing test is almost as fast as a budget desktop PC, but in the Multi-tasking test this dropped to 73, showing the dual-core processor's limitations. Although the extra 2GB of RAM didn't lead to any noticeably performance increase in these benchmarks, it will be useful if you want to edit large video files, and many games benefit from more RAM.
Amazingly, you can just about play games on the Z560. It scored only 17fps in our Call of Duty 4 benchmark, but ran smoothly with reduced resolution and quality settings. Don't expect to play the latest shooters, however.
Battery life was slightly disappointing at under four hours, although at 2.5kg the Z560 isn't ideal for everyday mobile use. Nevertheless, the Z560 is good value. Alternatively, the MSI CX623-203UK has a faster processor and graphics card plus a far better screen - if you're willing to stretch your budget a little.
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