by Kevin O'Brien
Lenovo offers three lines of notebooks; the ThinkPad, IdeaPad, and the not-so-frequently-mentioned "Value line" series. The Value line currently only includes the G530, a 15.4” notebook offering either an Intel Pentium dual-core or Core 2 Duo processor and Intel integrated graphics. With a starting price of $429, is the Lenovo G530 value notebook worth considering? Read our full review to find out.
Lenovo Value line G530 Specifications:
Build and Design
The design of the Lenovo G530 is simple yet stylish, having a black MacBook-ish appearance when the notebook is closed. The edges are rounded off and the lid has a matte black finish that is smooth to the touch. The interior of the notebook shares the same color as the lid, but is textured with a rougher matte finish similar to what you would find on unpainted sections of a ThinkPad. Lenovo took the back-to-basics route with the color scheme on this notebook, making it entirely black inside and out.
The chassis is constructed entirely of plastic, but where most budget notebooks might feel flexible or flimsy, the G530 feels like a solid block of sturdy material. When talking about the palm rest on most notebooks, including ThinkPads, notebooks with good support still show some flex under a very strong grip. Somehow squeezing the palm rests on the G530 feels like you are trying to squeeze a rock. Other areas of the notebook share the same toughness, including the keyboard and surrounding trim.
To upgrade components the G530 has easy access panels to the memory and CPU, wireless card, and hard drive on the bottom of the notebook. No components, including the processor, had “warranty void if removed” stickers, making it very easy to handle upgrades or repairs in the future.
The 15.4” LCD is above average compared to most 15.4-16” notebooks, with bright and vibrant colors and decent viewing angles. The panel used is an older 16:10 1280x800 panel, instead of the newer 16:9 1366x768 versions we see in most notebooks today. The screen offers a glossy surface, which helps improve colors and contrast at the cost of added reflections and glare. Compared to “frameless” displays the reflections were tolerable as long as you were not outside under direct sunlight. Screen brightness was adequate for viewing in bright office conditions, but might not cut it outside unless it is an overcast day. Vertical viewing angles were adequate with a broad viewing sweet spot measuring 30 degrees forward or back before colors started to wash out or invert. Horizontal view angles were much better, showing no color distortion at steep angles.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is easy to type on, sharing the same comfortable and durable feel as my ThinkPad T60 keyboard and only differing in layout. Individual key action is smooth with no audible click when pressed. The keys are textured with a smooth matte finish, giving decent traction for typing ... unlike the glossy keyboards we are seeing on a greater number of notebooks these days. Keyboard support is excellent, with no hint of flex under strong typing pressure. Media-related keys are limited to touch-sensitive mute and volume up/down buttons located above the keyboard.
The G530 uses a Synaptics touchpad that has good sensitivity and no discernable lag during use. The surface texture is a smooth matte finish that is easy to slide a finger across even when moist. The touchpad buttons are large and positioned directly under the touchpad. I found them easy to trigger, needing only light pressure to activate. Feedback from the buttons was minimal, giving off only a sharp click when pressed. If you prefer to disable the touchpad, the keyboard has a function key that will disable it and light a blue LED in-between the touchpad buttons.
Ports and Features
Port selection is limited compared to other full-size notebooks, offering only four USB ports, VGA-out, and audio jacks. eSATA and HDMI would have been greatly appreciated, but we understand that sometimes in order to cut costs some things have to be sacrificed.
Left: Kensington Lock slot, LAN, VGA, 2 USB, ExpressCard/54
Speakers and Audio
The onboard speakers are fine for occasionally playing music or watching video, but they were fairly unimpressive as far as notebook speakers go. Bass and midrange were lacking, but given the low-cost nature of this notebook it was expected. Peak volume levels were fine for a small room, but for the best possible audio quality a pair of headphones connected through the audio jack is the best option.
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