- Good build quality and keyboard
- Lots of ports
- Four hours of battery life
- Horrible touchpad
- Glossy plastic lid
- Subpar screen quality
The Lenovo Essential G560 is a solid consumer budget notebook with a weak touchpad.
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:
- 15.6-inch 720p (1366×768) glossy panel with LED backlighting
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
- Intel Core i3-330M dual-core processor (2.13GHz, 3MB L3 cache, 2.5GT/s QPI, 35W TDP)
- Intel HM55 chipset
- Integrated Intel HD graphics w/ shared video memory
- 4GB DDR3-1066 dual-channel RAM (2x 2GB)
- 320GB 5400RPM Western Digital hard drive (WD3200BEVT)
- Broadcom 802.11n wireless LAN card
- DVD burner (Optiarc DVD RW AD-7585H)
- 1-year limited warranty
- 6-cell Li-ion battery (11.1V, 48Wh)
- Weight: 5.73 lbs.
- Dimensions: 14.8” (L) x 9.8” (D) x 0.7~1.4” (H)
- MSRP: $699
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.
Build and Design
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.
Unlike the chassis, the lid is covered in smooth glossy plastic, which attracts dust and fingerprints. This is a con – the glossy plastic gets messy quickly unless a microfiber cloth is kept handy at all times. The build quality of the lid itself is average and not as good as the chassis. It flexes easily when twisted by the corners and I made ripples appear on the screen when I pushed in on the back. The G560’s overall build quality is satisfactory; my only real complaint is the glossy plastic used on the lid.
Screen and Speakers
The G560 has a 15.6-inch screen with a 720p (1366×768) 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 1366×768 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 1366×768 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.
Keyboard and Touchpad
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.
The touchpad is the polar opposite of the notebook – that is, terrible. After reviewing several dozen notebooks, I can safely say this is the worst I have used. The positives first: the touchpad’s mildly-textured surface is a cinch to track on with moist or dry fingers. It is also appropriately-sized for a 15.6” screen. The negatives: its usability; only about half my intended clicks actually registered, which was quite frustrating. There are no dedicated touchpad buttons; this is a “clickpad”, where the entire surface can be pressed down anywhere (supposedly) to register a click. Pressing the very bottom-right simulates a right-click and everything else is left-click. I had to apply an abnormal amount of pressure to get any sorts of clicks to register, especially towards the edges and center. On top of all this, the clicks are loud.
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.
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