Screen and Speakers
The IdeaPad Z560 includes a 15.6-inch display with a 1366 x 768 resolution. At the time of publishing this review, only one screen resolution is offered. The display handles 720P HD video content, although it would need to downsize 1080P content to show at the lower resolution. The screen rates about average in terms of color and contrast, with the glossy surface helping to enhance black levels.
We measured the contrast ratio as 128:1 with a peak brightness of 222 nit. The backlight was more than adequate for viewing the display in bright indoor viewing conditions, but with the glossy surface, outdoor viewing isn’t possible unless you find a good spot of shade. Vertical viewing angles were average, with colors staying true and accurate when the screen was tilted 10-15 degrees forward or back. Horizontal viewing angles were much better, with the screen staying visible past 60-degrees before the reflections off the surface blocked what you were viewing.
The onboard speakers are located right above the keyboard on the Z560, instead of lap-firing speakers we tend to see on many newer notebooks. This location prevents clothing or soft surfaces from blocking the speaker outlet and muffling sound coming out. The speaker quality was about average for a mainstream notebook, although the performance wasn’t up to the standards of some of the nicer multi-speaker notebooks we have reviewed. Peak volume levels were fine for watching a movie or listening to music in a small to mid-size room.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard on the IdeaPad Z560 is a cross between a standard and island-style keyboard. It offers shaped and contoured keys to make it easy to center your fingertips while typing, but with the larger key-spacing offered by island design. This brings the best of both worlds and makes the Z560 a dream to type on. Even as a long-time fan of the traditional ThinkPad keyboard, I have started to sway and actually prefer this design. We first got a look at this design with the ThinkPad Edge-series and loved it ever since. The typing feel is great with long-throw keys that give off very little sound when fully pressed. The keyboard support is excellent, showing no signs of flex even under strong typing pressure.
The IdeaPad Z560 offers a spacious Synaptics touchpad supporting multi-touch gestures. This particular model offers pinch zoom, pivot rotate, two finger scrolling, three finger flick and three finger press. Sensitivity out of the box is great, needing no adjustment to be perfectly usable. The textured touchpad was very easy to use, without the rough uneven feel on the newer ThinkPads and not completely glossy like what’s on most consumer notebooks. The two touchpad buttons located below the touch surface are very nice. They both offer long travel with excellent soft feedback.