As recently as five years ago, the primary uses of laptops were to supplement our desktops at home or function as a portable media device. The game has changed and now manufacturers are looking towards laptops becoming desktop replacements. Lenovo’s Ideapad series is aimed at different user profiles. The latest in its Z series is the Lenovo IdeaPad Z560, which promises ‘affordable entertainment’ along with a host of other features. We tried our hands at it to see if it lives up to the promise.

Look and feel

The Z560 looks sleek with its black glossy lid and the subtle yet smart metallic finish. The keyboard, placed in a brushed aluminium base, is spacious and well laid out. The pattern is that of a chiclet keyboard but it is not a backlit one. However, the keys are well spaced-out and comfortable to type on. We especially liked the inclusion of a separate number pad.

Despite its size, the laptop was still lighter than most others in its category and it wasn’t cumbersome to carry around during regular hours of commute.

Above the keyboard on the right are four touch buttons to mute audio, start the playback of movies and videos, activate the Smart Fan Noise Control feature and display battery power.

One distinctive feature of the Lenovo Z560 is the trackpad, which has a dotted/contoured pattern on it and feels smooth and responsive, as do the left and right click buttons below it.

Multimedia

The screen is a 15.6-inch widescreen with an aspect ratio of 16:9, and supports Full-HD playback that is ideal for watching movies. The only niggle here is that the screen is glossy and results in glare which is a deterrent when it comes to watching videos or gaming. The LED-backlit display, however, offered crisp, colourful images and videos.

The sound quality was also good and loud enough to entertain a handful of people. Lenovo has integrated Dolby Advanced audio in this laptop to enhance the multimedia experience, a definite plus as it makes for a good combo when coupled with the widescreen format.

Connectivity

The Z560 ships with the regular ports - with a Power socket, USB port, DVD drive and stereo headphone-out and mic-in jacks on the right side. On the left you have an HDMI port, a combined eSATA/USB port, VGA-out, LAN port and a Kensington Lock slot.

Performance

One definite plus with the Z560 was that it did not heat up even when we used it for long durations. We watched a movie with the notebook on our lap and it didn’t heat up or cause any discomfort.

Back-up options include the OneKey Rescue System, the proprietary software by Lenovo. This is an easy-to-use system that helps you scan for viruses and eliminate them, and restore your operating system and files in case they are corrupted.

The notebook also comes with the free version of an IM and video-chat client ‘ooVoo’. With the paid version, you can record calls and engage in video chats with as many as six people simultaneously.

Another inclusion is Lenovo DirectShare that syncs all your files and data with other PCs and USB drives in the local network. However, this software will let you connect only with PCs that have DirectShare installed in them.

The Z560 comes in two processor choices; the Intel i3 and Intel i5. The one shipped to us for review had the Intel Core i5-460 processor and was pre-loaded with Windows 7 Home Premium. The graphics card included was an NVIDIA.

The laptop runs on a 6-cell Lithium-Ion battery and on a single charge, it was still left with some juice, after three hours of multimedia playback and internet usage.

Our verdict

The Lenovo Z560 offers basic functions and more when compared to laptops from other brands in its price category. With looks that could help it pass off as a slightly higher-end laptop, the Lenovo Z560 also scores with its good multimedia performance and overall user experience. This notebook certainly seems to have got a lot of simple things right, thus making it a decent buy especially considering the price it comes at.

Rs 36,000 onwards

Love: HD capabilities, Dolby audio, good keyboard

Hate: Glossy screen, no backlit keys, lid smudged easily

(This article was published on January 26, 2011)
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