Lenovo's IdeaPad V series of desktop replacement laptops are a less expensive and arguably more stylish alternative to its massively popular ThinkPads. We had the company's 15-inch V570 in for review, which has a shiny aluminium finish, is loaded with Windows 7 Professional and is available from Laptops Direct for a shade under £470.
Shiny happy lappy
The V570 is very similar to Lenovo's own B570. But whereas the B570's chassis is finished in matte black plastic, the V570 has liberal doses of aluminium slapped on the lid and wrist rest. It gives the laptop a much smarter, more premium look and feel. Subtle touches, such as the thin metallic grille that runs across the top of the keyboard, also add to the upmarket air.
While the V570 isn't exactly laden down with ports, it does cover off most of the essentials. There are two USB ports on each side of the machine and one of these also doubles up as an eSata port, which is useful for connecting devices that require high-speed transfer rates, such as faster external hard drives.
Along with a traditional VGA connector, an HDMI port makes it easy to hook it up to a HDTV. There's also an SD card slot on the front lip, and both gigabit Ethernet and Wi-Fi wireless N for Internet connectivity. Storage needs are taken care of by a 320GB hard drive, which will be enough for most people, although a little more space wouldn't have gone amiss.
We've no such quibbles with the keyboard, though. It's an isolated design with generous spacing between each key to help you avoid accidentally hitting adjacent letters when you're hammering out emails at speed. The keys have a surprising amount of travel and have a curved edge on the lower part of each key. So not only do they feel responsive to type on, but they look good too.
The big, wide trackpad is also excellent, as it's finished with a slightly roughened texture that feels quite grippy, but not sticky, under your finger. And although the two long, thin trackpad buttons initially feel a little spongy, they're actually pretty responsive and comfortable to use.
On the far right-hand side of the wrist rest there's also a fingerprint reader, which you can use in conjunction with the supplied software to restrict access to certain files on the laptop.
The 15-inch display is a glossy rather than matte affair. It's more reflective than we would have liked, but it's also quite bright and colours look very rich and strong. Its resolution of 1,366x768 pixels is unremarkable, but given the low-ish price tag we guess it's to be expected as it's broadly in line with most other sub £500 laptops.
On Sandy shores
Under the bonnet our V570 is powered by one of Intel's new Sandy Bridge Core i3-2310M processors (a 2.3GHz Core i5 chip is available for around £50 more). The main advantage of Sandy Bridge chips when used on cheaper laptops such as this is the faster Intel HD3000 integrated graphics.
In the 3DMark06 test, the V570 managed to post a score of 2,575, which is around twice the performance of the previous Intel HD graphics solutions. It's still not enough to allow for decent frame rates in newer games, although older titles will probably play fine as long as you turn the detail down.
The V570 only has 2GB of RAM onboard, compared to the 3GB offered on the B570. This did hamper its performance slightly, so if you're thinking of making the purchase you may want to factor in the cost of upgrading the RAM. In PCMark05 it posted a score of 5,788 compared to the B570's result of 5,904. That's still more than enough performance for light and medium computing tasks, so it'll have no problem crunching through streaming video or multi-tab Web browsing.
The laptop's battery life was also impressive. It managed to keep running for 1 hour 35 minutes in our Battery Eater test, which is above average for a 15-inch machine. This test really hammers the processor to simulate a very intensive processing load, so under real world conditions you're likely to get much longer battery life from it.
At the end of the day there's isn't a huge difference between the V570 and its cheaper cousin the B570. They're both impressive laptops for the price, so basically, if you want a model with a more premium, stylish look then opt for the V570. If you're not concerned with looks you can save yourself around £70 by going for the B570 instead.
Edited by Nick Hide