Lenovo's IdeaPad Y560D 3D Laptop Reviewed

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While we were less-than-thrilled with some of the Y560D's 2D characteristics, we were fully prepared to wipe the slate clean if the 3D capabilities of said system delivered unto us previously undreamt vistas of movie and gaming delight.

The Y560D uses a program suite called TriDef. TriDef can play 3D content (the system contains a preloaded selection of 3D shorts) and can theoretically render 2D games in a 3D mode. We say theoretically because while we can confirm the program will *attempt* to perform this process, we never saw it do so successfully for any length of time. The games we tested (WoW and Half Life 2) would boot, briefly run in 3D mode, then crash. Frame rates were fine and the 3D effect was visible, but the TriDef converter mysteriously scrambled keyboard input in WoW while Half Life 2 Episode 2 wasn't stable.


This is the calibration image TriDef includes to help you find an optimal viewing angle.

Lenovo included a set of 3D movie previews, but we wanted to see the technology at work in a full-length feature film. There aren't many 3D movies for sale yet, so we tromped down to the local Blockbuster, certain that we'd find at least a small amount of shelf space dedicated to 3D. Unfortunately, we didn't find much, but snatched up a copy of Coraline in 3D, on DVD--remember, no Blu-ray drive in the Y560D.

Coraline in 3D looks a lot like Coraline in 2D—or at least it would if the latter had been filmed by a myopic cyclops with a fisheye lens. The center of the screen tends to look good in 3D mode, but the effect becomes irregular as the eye moves outwards towards the edges of the screen. One observer characterized the effect as "lumpy," which seems as good a word as any.


It's a pretty good movie, but DVD 3D isn't the best way to experience it.

This is one of the drawbacks to buying any 3D-capable display at this point. Just as the earliest DVD films occasionally looked like they'd been mastered off a VHS tape found moldering in someone's attic, the best 3D display can't spin straw into gold. Coraline's 3D, while uneven, is still better than the train wreck of Clash of The Titans. Unfortunately for would-be 3D aficionados, there's no guarantee of quality attached to the 3D moniker.

When we dug around for information on upcoming 3D releases (we'd have loved to have tested the 3D version of Avatar, were it available), we found some studios are considering confining their 3D releases to the Blu-ray version of a movie. Regardless of whether or not that's a smart move it again left us wondering why Lenovo doesn't sell some version of the Y560D with a Blu-ray player rather than a DVD drive.

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This is not too impressive when you consider the crappy battery life and the lack of options for it.

Then, there's that stellar price point,.............

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Almost every new laptop shipping with an i7 quadcore has the i7 740QM and not the old i7 720QM.

If anyone is going to leap onto the 3D bandwagon then I'd suggest a Full HD display instead of the plain vanilla HD.

As with all mobil devices I look into I'm very interested in the wireless offering.

Here I'm pleased that it's an Intel Advanced N 6200 but they could have gone a step further with the WiMAX Advanced N 6250 or the 3 antena Intel Ultimate N 6300.These cards would cost Lenovo very little to have included one of them insted of the 6200.

The DDR3 should have been 1333.

The 5400rpm HDD isn't the deal breaker,it's mainly the resolution,memory speed and the wireless.

Oh,a GPU with DDR3 these days is also a letdown.

No USB 3.0 ports,yikes.

How about HDMI 1.4?

Average sound card is inside.

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Smog,

I've got to emphatically disagree with regard to the hard drive. DDR1333 vs DDR31066 might buy you 1-2 percent worth of performance. The speed difference between a 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM drive is substantially greater, and impacts every boot, application load time, and system responsiveness.

Consumer desktop applications and workstation workloads are both latency-sensitive, not bandwidth-sensitive. Now that both AMD and Intel use onboard memory controllers, memory latency is less important (because controller latency is so good). To give you an idea--moving to an IMC knocked anywhere from 50-70ns off modern processor memory latencies. The difference between high-end, low-latency RAM and low-end, high-latency RAM might be less than 10ns these days.

The use of large L3 caches has also reduced the impact of RAM latency by introducing another layer of cache data. In short, virtually nothing needs the bandwidth--and there's very little benefit to latency shifts, either.

I agree that on a $1300 laptop released in July, at least one USB 3.0 port should've been present. Also, no laptop with anything less than a high-density 9-cell battery should be using a quad core / octal threaded CPU. Just my opinion of course.

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I agree with you! 

I saw many things wrong with this review...firstly, these days I'd never buy an i5 for gaming in a laptop.  Core i7 is in all of the great gaming notebooks, and that should be the standard.  Please stop recommending i5's for a gaming machine.

Speaking of standard, Im surprised the reviewers accepted the low resolution screen.  1366x768 is awful for gaming...what is this, 2007?  Full HD should be standard, if not 1680x1050 as a bare minimum.  Accept no substitutes.

DDR RAM should be 1333, especially with an i7, and it should be true triple channel...not the hobbled dual channels that pop up every now and then. 

Hard drives should be 7200rpm minimum in a gaming laptop, no questions asked.  IBM loses big points for including a 5400 drive.

Sound card is average...but the screen size is below average.  15.6?  I wouldnt knock points off for it because some people like having a tiny screen, but for a gaming laptop, id want a 17" or 18.4 inch screen. 

If I am going to game, I want it to be as close to a desktop replacement as possible.  If I wanted a thin/light/long batt life laptop, I'd buy one, but I'd never use something like that for gaming...and just the same, I'd never buy a gaming laptop without FULL HD, a 7200RPM hard drive (or ssd), an i7, awesome video card and a ton of ram. Otherwise...It's akin to driving a Wonder Bread truck in an offroad race...it's just not made for it.

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Damnit,

First off, this isn't a gaming laptop. It's a 3D laptop.

2.  If you think Core i7 should be a default chip just because OEMs are selling them in gaming notebooks, you're Dell's favorite kind of customer--you buy brands and pay huge premiums when it actually makes no sense to do so. The only difference between the Mobile i7s (assuming you want a fast core rather than a slow quad) and mobile i5's is 1MB of L3. That's it. Does that matter? I'm sure it does, a little. Is a 5% performance increase worth a $100-$200 processor premium? Not in my book.

3.  I already covered why RAM clock rate *and* bandwidth aren't a big deal. If they were, you wouldn't see higher-end desktop Core i5's keeping pace with Core i7s (assuming two chips with an equal number of cores and HT enabled. The question isn't whether or not the Core i7s are slightly faster, it's whether or not it's worth it to pay a Core i7 premium for a small performance gain.

4.  There's nothing to "accept" given the screen resolution. This isn't a gaming laptop. We tested the screen that was in the laptop--which happens to be the only screen *available.*

5.  This is not a gaming laptop. Would I prefer a larger screen? Sure. But that doesn't mean everyone would, and that doesn't mean everyone would want to pay the premium.

6.  Thank you for sharing your thoughts on a gaming laptop. This is not a gaming laptop. This is a 3D multimedia laptop that happens to perform well in gaming tests thanks to a low resolution screen.

And one more time, just to make sure there's no confusion--this is not a gaming laptop or a DTR.

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To be a bit clearer why the 5400rpm HDD is not a deal breaker for me.

The HDD no matter what the speed is would quickly be replaced by an SSD and then used for storage in an external box. 

Can never have too much storage.

I have OCZ Vertex 2 SSDs in both my LG X140 netbook and Asus G51Jx(1920x1080 120hz)notebook

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The mixed review is not a failing of the laptop itself, but of the 3D technology.

I was at Costco earlier this week and they had a 46" 3DTV setup with 3D goggles setup right in front, about 3.5 feet away. It looked pretty cool peering through the googles. But if you move to one side, or over 5 feet away from the TV, the effect reduces substantially. 

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Gibber,

It's not just the 3D. Quite frankly, I'm astonished at the components Lenovo chose; it's an absolutely crystal clear example of a company opting for high-margin hardware over what would give a customer the best experience/optimize mobile flexibility. 

The reason I'm willing to take such a hard stand here is the complete and total lack of options. Forced to evaluate this laptop strictly as-is, I wouldn't buy it for myself and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else. There are better options, some of which are in the Lenovo Y560 (no D) family.

I don't know how prices compare to Dell, HP, etc, but the Lenovo Y560-064659U (first system from the left if you visit the Y560 page) has all the specs of the Y560D in terms of RAM, HDD, video card, and LCD, offers a power-efficient i3-370M, and keeps the Radeon 5730 with 1GB of dedicated RAM for $899. That's a system powerful enough to do some reasonable gaming on, and it'll offer much better battery life than a 45nm quad-core with HT.

Assuming the price compares well against the other OEMs, that's the Lenovo I'd recommend--especially for the speakers.

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Thanks Joel. I read your above responses and understand your criticism of the laptop. I agree, the benefits of the 3D technology aren't significant enough for the consumer to overlook the other shortcomings of the laptop at its price point. 

Lenovo has been restrictive of options allowed on their IdeaPad laptops, but you would think anyone willing to dish out extra ~$400 for this technology would be the kind of consumer who would appreciate flexibility in configurations. The lack of USB 3.0, Blu-Ray and the absolutely woeful battery life are big negatives, a 9-cell battery life option would have remedied the later. 

When Toshiba first rolled out the WiDi tech, they did it in such a way so as not to compromise the rest of the laptop. The Satellite E205 laptop even without the WiDi was a decent deal for its price. 

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Gibber,

Near as I can tell, Lenovo is trying to persuade buyers who want flexible options into buying Thinkpads. It's a baffling move--it's not as if notebook manufacturers don't already limit customization options on various systems. Even boutique builders don't typically make *every* option available on every system. It's also not uncommon to need to order by phone, or accept a longer-than-standard delivery window.

Since Lenovo doesn't claim this streamlining improves IdeaPad delivery or offers next-day-shipping advantages...I'm at a loss as to the reason.

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