Design and Build Quality
Before we delve deep into this section, let us remind you of this: the G530 starts at $429. That's around $30 more than the lower-powered, smaller and less capable Eee PC 1000HE netbook. Of course, one would obviously expect a $429 machine aimed at budget-minded business-people to be built about like a Mattel toy; we're here to proclaim that Lenovo's G530 is far from toy-like. In fact, it's one of the more solid 15.4" notebooks that we've had the pleasure of touching. From edge to edge, the build quality is top notch. The chassis is rigid, stiff and designed to handle the normal abuse of traversing between the home and the office. The only shortfall is the top LCD lid, which -- as with most notebooks -- could stand to be just a bit more rigid to prevent flex in the middle.
The entire exterior of the notebook is exceedingly classy. It's matte black all around, and while it's definitely simple, it's far from "plain." The smooth lines, chrome Lenovo lid logo and the overall no-nonsense approach was perfectly adequate for a machine that's priced below $500 and aimed squarely at the all-business crowd. After you open up the lid, however, things do seem a bit vanilla. The keyboard is eerily similar to those found on your average ThinkPad, and the textured, all-black palm rests could definitely stand to be accented. Of course, for the market Lenovo is targeting, we'd say it still works. Just know that you won't be seeing anything fancy under the hood.
On the right side, we've got a 56k modem (talk about a blast from the past!), two USB 2.0 ports in a side-by-side configuration, a dual-layer DVD writer and an AC adapter input. Across the back, there are no ports whatsoever.
On the left side, we've got a ventilation port, an Ethernet jack, VGA output, two more USB 2.0 ports in the same side-by-side layout and an ExpressCard slot. In the front, there's a headphone jack (3.5mm), audio input (3.5mm) and a Wi-Fi on/off toggle switch.
Within, you'll find a decently sized trackpad, left/right click buttons, a full-size standard keyboard, status indicator lights on both sides, four touch-sensitive buttons atop the keyboard, a 0.3MP webcam and a CCFL-backlit 15.4" LCD. The panel is of the glossy variety, and as with any other notebook with a glossy screen, it's pretty difficult to use outside. To us, this is an odd choice on a business machine. Today's business-person is apt to be out and about quite frequently, and particularly if he/she is using a portable (such as the G530) to handle their work, they are apt to find themselves outside. To that end, we can't help but wish Lenovo had selected a matte display here; it would've made it entirely more attractive to professionals on the move.
To be fair, the display is stunning when under controlled lighting. The colors are vivid and sharp, and frankly, we were impressed with the panel quality given the low MSRP. Viewing angles were superb, the refresh rate seemed plenty fast, and watching 720p media clips was a real joy. We do wish the screen resolution was a touch higher than WXGA, as it's sort of a waste to have 15.4" but only 1280 x 800 pixels. Granted, bumping that up a notch would undoubtedly increase the price, so we understand the reasoning behind the decision. We should also point out that this machine has a 4-in-1 card reader but lacks a Bluetooth module; design wise, those were the biggest corners we saw cut on an otherwise well appointed budget notebook. At 5.95 pounds (with battery installed), it's definitely on the hefty side too. Thankfully, the weight is fairly well spread out over the body, but it's certainly no lightweight.