The IdeaPad Y560d is a consumer multimedia notebook featuring a powerful Intel quad-core processor and ATI graphics. The most interesting aspect of this notebook is the 3D-capable screen. Does this feature make the notebook worth extra money? Read our review to find out.
Our Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d review unit has the following specifications:
The specifications are enthusiast-grade; the most noteworthy components are the Intel Core i7 quad-core processor and 1GB ATI graphics card. The Y560d's screen has a 120Hz refresh rate, which is what allows it to produce the illusion of 3D when combined with the included special polarized glasses and TriDef software. The Manufacturer's suggested retail price is a bit steep; however this notebook can often be found for several hundred less online.
The Y560d has an aesthetically pleasing design. The notebook is quite thin and light for its class, coming in at six pounds and just over one inch thin. The chassis has a standard rectangular shape. All corners are generously rounded off, giving the Y560d a soft appearance compared to business notebooks. Numerous white status lights dot the chassis, including a backlit “IdeaPad” logo in the bottom right of the palm rest. The keyboard is flanked by two impressive-looking JBL-branded speakers.
The biggest problem I have with the Y560d is the fact that every visible surface is covered in glossy, smudge-prone plastic. It is nearly impossible to keep clean and is not all that durable. Overall, the build quality is below average for a notebook priced north of a grand. The glossy plastic and gaudy lid tattoo may turn off prospective customers.
Screen and 3D
The Y560d has a 15.6-inch screen with a 720p (1366x768) resolution and LED backlighting. Its glossy mirror surface allows colors to stand out but means lot of reflections from nearby light sources. This display is on par with displays in other consumer notebooks; nothing out of the ordinary, in other words. Brightness is good; even 3/10 is quite usable on battery. Colors are acceptable and do not look washed out; contrast measured 184:1 which is satisfactory, with ample black levels and stark whites. The backlighting is relatively even, measuring 214 nit at its peak. Side-to-side viewing angles are good however the vertical viewing angles are rather poor; the display can only be viewed about 10 degrees off-center in either direction before colors start distorting.
The fundamental problem with this display is the resolution (viewable area). 1366X768 might be acceptable on a 11” screen but is out of place on one as large as 15.6”. Such a low resolution hampers productivity – just 768 pixels of vertical space means only one-half of a page in a Microsoft Word document is viewable at a time. Using two windows side-by-side is impractical because not enough of each window can be seen, and lots of scrolling is needed on web pages. Lastly, forget about editing high-resolution photos – not enough detail can be seen without zooming excessively.
Now, the part everyone has been looking for – the 3D experience. The Y560d comes with special polarized glasses that work with the 120Hz screen to trick your brain into thinking you are seeing in three dimensions. This is passive 3D, which is not quite as good as active 3D like Nvidia 3D Vision-equipped notebooks. However, passive 3D is typically less expensive. No matter how much money you spend though, there is no getting away from wearing some kind of glasses.
How well does it work, you ask? It actually works just like it does in the movie theater (and I'm talking about modern 3D movies, not the 1970s red/blue nonsense). That is, the 3D effects are convincing. Image and videos have perceivable depth – but no, you can't touch them (I tried).
3D is only useful for entertainment purposes at this time. One of the problems with 3D right now is actually finding 3D content. All 3D content works through the included TriDef 3D software. Some newer cameras can take 3D photos and there are some videos floating around out there, but otherwise the audience is limited. 3D gaming – perhaps the reason to spend extra for the Y560d -- is another story; as of this review, 210 games have TriDef profiles. I tried Valve's Left 4 Dead 2, which was immersive and a lot of fun. There were some minor issues – for example, my aim was slightly off because the crosshairs location was not exact. I almost forgot I was wearing glasses while playing (read: almost). However, after about a half hour I started to get a headache.
Is the 3D feature worth extra money? It depends on how much money – as it stands, the standard IdeaPad Y560 is the same notebook sans the 3D screen and goes for a few hundred dollars less. For monetary reasons alone I'd say no. 3D is a controversial technology and I’m not totally convinced. While I was playing Left 4 Dead 2, for example, I can’t say I had more fun playing in 3D than in 2D. Additionally, I felt awkward wearing the glasses while looking at a computer screen, and I never quite forgot I was wearing them. Your experience may vary – my recommendation is to go see a movie in 3D and judge the technology for yourself.
It is important to understand that 3D, as it pertains to consumer electronics, is brand new at this point and will take years to mature. There is no single 3D standard yet; early adopters will pay a premium and run the risk of investing in a 3D technology that loses to another (think HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray).
The Y560d has two large JBL speakers above the keyboard. They sound positively excellent for notebook speakers; there is ample bass and a good mix of mid and high frequencies. There is very little distortion at max volume.
Something Lenovo has historically done well is input devices; the Y560d is no exception. The full-size keyboard has great tactile feedback and is fun to type on. The Y560d's keyboard has a softer feel than other Lenovo IdeaPads I tested, but that is not a bad thing. Key travel is just right and the keyboard is very communicative as a result. The keys' matte surface firmly holds fingers in place. There is no flex unless abnormal pressure is used. I found it easy to type quickly and accurately on this keyboard. Another positive aspect of this keyboard is that it's quiet – there should not be any issues using this notebook in a library or classroom.
The touchpad has a glossy dimpled surface and two large buttons below. Even with damp fingers I was able to track my fingers across the surface with ease. The touchpad is appropriately-sized for a 15.6” notebook with large buttons that are easy to operate without looking down to see which buttons are in use. The touchpad buttons are quiet and have good multilevel feedback.
Ports and Features
The Y560d has an ample array of input/output ports, including three USB ports, a USB/eSATA combo port, and HDMI. The Y560d does not have USB 3.0 or ExpressCard. All picture descriptions are left to right.
Right: USB 2.0, USB 2.0/eSATA combo port, optical drive, AC power, Kensington Lock slot
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