Fresh from Lenovo's consumer-based IdeaPad stable comes the Lenovo Z570 which manages to hit a great balance between power and price.
There's something about the faint, almost purple tinge to the brushed metal exterior that looks a lot better than the basic black designs offered by other more traditional laptops.
The metal is only an overlay, set into a plastic chassis, but it's enough to make it stand out. We would say that in a line-up, only the Dell Inspiron 14z looks better.
Inside, the purple colouring is offset with Lenovo's traditional black keyboard and several backlit hotkeys. Two rectangular speaker grills are present below the screen hinges which are themselves buried into the chassis.
The 15.6-inch screen is covered with a Super-TFT coating for extra colour depth and isn't interrupted by a particularly thick bezel. It does wobble slightly on its hinges, although viewing angles are very good here. Because of the Super-TFT coating, however, the screen is reflective and in bright light these reflections are quite noticeable.
The Z570 has the same 1366 x 768 pixel resolution as its rivals, so although 1080p video is out of reach, you can still watch 720p high definition from sites like iPlayer.
Using the keyboard is a pleasant experience – providing you don't use the Return key too often. For some reason Lenovo shrinks this key to a fraction of its usual size, which we find particularly irritating.
While it doesn't beat the Sony VAIO VPC-EH2F1E's keyboard, typing on the Z570 is still easy thanks to the well-rounded keys and plenty of space between buttons. The touchpad is large and well-placed and the extra hotkeys controlling volume, thermal management and video mode are a nice extra feature.
When it comes to connectivity, this laptop matches any of the other machines here, boasting three USB ports as well as an eSata port that doubles as a fourth USB. There are both HDMI and VGA ports for connecting to an external monitor as well as an Ethernet port and a 5-in-1 SD card slot for expanding on the 750GB of storage space. A DVD-RW optical drive lets you burn your own data or media discs for backup.
In our benchmarking tests, the Lenovo Z570 posted the best scores and also has some impressive specs on board. The Intel Core i5 CPU is part of Intel's Sandy bridge family and the Z570 is the only machine to come with a dedicated graphics card.
The Nvidia GeForce GT520M adds an extra 1GB of pure video memory to the 6GB of standard RAM and lets you play basic games or run graphically-intensive programs like editing suites. We expected the extra graphical power to suck up more battery power, but this laptop lasted a solid 173 minutes during our tests. Although it fell short of the Dell Inspiron 14z, it equalled the Sony VAIO VPC-EH2F1E.
Battery Eater '05: 173 minutes
3DMark 2006: 5346
It's unlikely the average user will need more power than what is offered by the Lenovo Z570 but, at the same time, it gives you enough of a performance to avoid becoming dated in six months. Overall, it constitutes an extremely solid new year purchase.
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