The Essential G560 is Lenovo’s entry-level 15.6” notebook. It sports an Intel Core i3 processor, full-size keyboard with number pad, and a starting price around $600. Read our review to find out more.
Our Lenovo Essential G560 review unit has the following specifications:
Our test unit has specifications appropriate for what it was designed for – basic use. The Core i3 processor and 4GB of RAM ensure smooth multitasking. Something this machine will not be able to do is play 3D games since it has integrated graphics.
The G560 has a modest-looking exterior with a few high-quality touches. The palm rest area is inlaid with brushed aluminum, which feels cool to the touch. The G560 is rather thin and light given its 15.6” screen, coming in at a shade under six pounds and about 1.3” thin. Despite its all-plastic construction the G560 has a solid feel. The palm rest and areas surrounding the keyboard have good support and do not flex, even under abnormal pressure. The plastic used in the construction has satisfactory quality; it is thick enough to not feel brittle yet not something I would classify as durable.
Screen and Speakers
The G560 has a 15.6-inch screen with a 720p (1366x768) resolution and LED backlighting; this is the only available screen. While its glossy mirror surface helps colors stand out and improves sharpness, it also acts as a mirror, especially when there are light sources behind it. Cleaning is also difficult.
The picture quality of the display is passable at best; it has a low contrast ratio of 150:1 and lacks sharpness. Colors appear somewhat washed out. We measured brightness at 210nit at its peak, which is average for a notebook of this size. Side-to-side viewing angles are also average; colors start to shift about 40 degrees off-center. Vertical viewing angles are narrow; it is viewable about 20 degrees up or down off-center before serious color inversion.
The 1366x768 resolution is the number one problem with the display; it makes multitasking difficult and limits productivity in general. Only about one-half of a page in a Microsoft Word document is visible at a time; additionally, lots of scrolling is required in web pages since there are only 768 pixels of vertical space. Using two windows side-by-side is more or less impractical since only 1366 pixels span the horizontal.
Overall, the display is typical of a low-priced notebook; it is hard to find budget 15.6” notebooks with better. To get a better resolution than 1366x768 one needs to go with a business class notebook, and even then higher resolutions are a rarity.
The G560 has two stereo speakers above the keyboard. They actually sound respectable; tinny, yes, and without much bass however quite usable for casual listening; the sound is fuller than I expected. The touch-enabled volume buttons above the keyboard work well.
The G560 has a full-size keyboard with separate numeric keypad. The keyboard is one of the highlights of this notebook; it feels solid and is pleasing to type on. Even under significant pressure there is little flex. The keys are quite communicative thanks to the just-right travel (the distance between pressed and un-pressed positions) and moderate actuation force (the amount of pressure needed to depress a key); both of these factors help accuracy. The layout of the keyboard takes some getting used to. Lenovo was only able to fit in a number pad by squeezing the keys to half their normal size – this means a bit more precision is required to hit them.
When I use a touchpad I have one hand to click and one hand to track; this does not work with the G560’s touchpad. It gets confused when there are two fingers on it and works sporadically; I had to change the way I used a touchpad to work with the G560. All in all, the G560’s touchpad was aggravating; those planning to purchase this notebook should also invest in an external mouse.
Ports and Features
The G560 has an impressive amount of ports for a budget notebook. It includes e-SATA for fast connections to external hard drives and HDMI, which is handy for connecting to HDTVs. Also included is ExpressCard/34, which can be used for add-on cards like USB 3.0 adapters. All picture descriptions are left to right.
Left: Kensington Lock slot, cooling exhaust vent, RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet, VGA, USB 2.0, e-SATA, HDMI, ExpressCard/34
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