Lenovo's 15.6-inch Essential G570 laptop may not be beautiful, but it offers decent performance for a very affordable price, rather like former Liverpool footballer Robbie Fowler. Our model, the G570 M5134UK, comes with a 2.1GHz, dual-core Intel Core i3-2310M processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. It's available now from SaveOnLaptops, and other vendors, for around £400.
If you've been desperately scrabbling through the over-saturated laptop market looking for a fancy, colourful machine to match your fancy, colourful personality, you might be a little underwhelmed by the G570.
The lid is plain black. We wanted to say more about it, but there's really not much else to talk about. It's just plain black. It's a bit shiny too, actually. The only distinguishing feature is the small, chrome-effect Lenovo logo in the top left-hand corner.
This lid is made of a glossy plastic that doesn't feel as sturdy as we'd like. It flexes a fair amount when poked, which gives it a rather cheap feel. We wouldn't want to take this laptop on any rough and tumble missions. It's also a total fingerprint trap and can look filthy within seconds if you've been eating cake or bacon -- or both.
Under the lid, the laptop is more attractive. The keyboard surround is made of a much more appealing -- and sturdy -- black brushed metal that doesn't seem to have the same taste for fingerprints as the lid. The keyboard surround is only a small part of the laptop, but it's pleasing and certainly adds a degree of class and style to an otherwise boring piece of kit.
We'd love to see more brushed metal wrapped around the G570, but that would undoubtedly push the price up, so we guess we'll have to make do with the shiny black plastic.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard's isolated keys have a rounded shape, which gives them something of a modern edge. They're slightly too high and wide for our liking though. We've certainly had more comfortable typing experiences on other machines so, if you plan on tapping out long documents, you may want to at least give the G570 a hands-on session in a shop first.
The keyboard is pleasingly wide, so you have plenty of room to stretch those fingers out, and there's a separate numeric keypad too, which is handy if you've got plenty of fascinating spreadsheets to work on.
The trackpad is pretty small, which is annoying considering the amount of spare space that has been left around it. We really don't know why Lenovo didn't just make it a gnat's wing bigger and help us out with all the insufferable swiping and scrolling we have to get through on a daily basis. It has quite a charming dimpled texture, though, which allows for some good finger-sliding action.
The trackpad buttons are large and easy to press, although they do feel rather plasticky. It's not a major problem, but we spent quite a long time in the office discussing the fact that the two buttons produce a slightly different clicking sound. That's probably quite far down the list of things you care about when choosing a laptop, but it's worth mentioning.
At 377 by 18 by 245mm, the laptop isn't so bulky that you can't fit it into a rucksack. Weighing 2.5kg, you shouldn't get too knackered if it's slung over your shoulder all day either.
Around the edge, you'll find a VGA port, HDMI out, three USB 2.0 ports, a combined USB/eSATA socket, an Ethernet jack and headphone out/audio in holes. There's also a DVD drive.
The 15.6-inch screen is really rather impressive for a laptop of this price. It's bright, offers good contrast and deep blacks, and delivers bold colour reproduction that made our videos sparkle. Its 1,366x768-pixel resolution will easily do the trick if you're watching the odd bit of Friends or browsing the latest videos of Maru on YouTube.
Under the hood of the G570, you'll find a dual-core Intel Core i3-2310M processor clocked at 2.1GHz, paired with 4GB of RAM. We threw our set of benchmark tests at it and were rather pleased with the results.
In the Geekbench test, the G570 delivered a score of 6,063 which is, again, very admirable. By way of comparison, our 11-inch MacBook Air delivered a score of 6,285, and that laptop packs a dual-core Core i7 processor and costs about a grand more.
The G570 may be pretty cheap, but this laptop won't limit you to simply sending and receiving business emails, and browsing the company's intranet. Happily breaking free from the shackles of commerce, it will play your high-definition content, undertake some basic editing of your photos, and deal with some light multitasking too.
There's no dedicated graphics card on offer, so you can rule out firing up the latest games, as you sink energy drink after energy drink. Instead, the G570 relies on integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics, which produced a score of 4,290 in the 3DMark06 graphics benchmark test. That score indicates you'll be able to tackle some older titles fairly well, as long as you dial the settings back.
The G570's battery is also quite decent. It managed to last 1 hour and 39 minutes in our test, which runs the CPU at a constant 100 per cent until the battery conks out. You'll get longer life from the battery with less intensive use.
The Lenovo Essential G570 looks as interesting as a paving slab on an industrial estate in Rotherham, but it offers impressive performance for a very reasonable price. If you're after a decent machine for some light work, the G570 is definitely worth considering.
Edited by Charles Kloet