Our idea of what a laptop consists of is changing over time. A solid, no-nonsense machine? Rather, we're starting to expect either spectacular value, or exceptional design from our portable computers. The Lenovo IdeaPad V470, sadly, exhibits neither.
Does that make the V470 a bad laptop? No. It's just merely mediocre. At $599, the entry-level Core i3-equipped model is a bulky, generic machine, with an exceptional keyboard. Compared with a $549 Dell Inspiron 14z, the Lenovo IdeaPad V470 is $50 more and swaps USB 3.0 for an eSATA port, while adding a fingerprint reader. The V470 is targeted to a casual small-business crowd: this is a consumer IdeaPad with flashes of ThinkPaddiness about it. A sturdier build and brushed-metal touches are appreciated, but the V470 feels about as natural and fun as a pair of clodhopper shoes.
Sturdy, it is. But do you really crave an affordable, thick, "business-esque" 14-inch laptop? Here you go. Otherwise, we'd recommend shopping for other solutions. There are plenty out there.
|Price as reviewed||$599|
|Processor||2.1 GHz Intel Core i3-2310M|
|Memory||4GB, 1333MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||500GB 5,400rpm|
|Graphics||Intel HD 3000|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||13.3 x 9.2 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||14.0 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||4.6/5.3 pounds|
A metal case and brushed-metal trim give the IdeaPad V470 a more professional, polished, sharper-edged look than many more glossy plastic IdeaPads I've seen lately, but the result is a double-edged sword. While the V470 does end up with an angular, clean look that's theoretically more "professional," the thick metal design feels a little out of date, as if this laptop time-traveled from a Starbucks work meeting in 2005.
The centerpiece of any Lenovo laptop experience tends to be the keyboard, so I'll skip right ahead and get to it. I love ThinkPads, despite their often ugly designs, for their keyboards. Crisp and lightly concave keys with plenty of travel make for truly spot-on writing with minimal errors. That raised chiclet keyboard is incorporated on the V470, and most importantly, it works nearly as crisply (ThinkPad fans might find an ever-so-subtle difference). Some may prefer it more, since it doesn't have the annoying red-rubber trackpoint that sits like a doorstop between the G, H and B keys on most ThinkPads. One letdown: this keyboard isn't backlit. Another: a right-side column of page up/down keys cramps access to the Enter/Shift keys.
The V470's touch pad is small. Very small. Discrete buttons underneath do the job, but the whole experience is several years off-base from the trend of larger multitouch touch pads we've seen on an increasing basis. Old-laptop traditionalists will be pleased. Others, like myself, will be annoyed. Two-finger gestures are nearly impossible to pull off.
A fingerprint reader comes standard, located off to the right of the touch pad. This is part of a preinstalled Lenovo security software suite. The fingerprint reader's primarily used for password protection; the other software services include hard drive encryption, although these are features you could easily acquire as software on another laptop. There's no vPro security hardware here, unlike on ThinkPads.
The 14-inch glossy display is bright, but particularly sharp when viewed from any sort of angle. Its 1,366x768-pixel resolution is standard for the size. The 2.0 megapixel webcam takes HD-quality video for Web chats, an increasingly common standard. Speaker volume on this IdeaPad is high: the speaker grilles above the keyboard boom out for watching videos, but they're better for spoken-word than for rich, varied music.
|Lenovo IdeaPad V470||Average for category [midsize]|
|Video||VGA, HDMI||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||1 USB 2.0/eSATA, 3 USB 2.0, SD card reader||2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader, eSATA|
|Networking||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth||Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional mobile broadband|
|Optical drive||DVD burner||DVD burner|
The IdeaPad V470, like many Lenovo laptops, has a wide range of customization options. At $599 (currently $509 with an additional promotion on Lenovo's Web site), our configuration includes a second-gen Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. None of these are surprising specs, although we've seen Core i5 laptops for as low as $550--some of them made by Lenovo. This laptop lacks USB 3.0, but it does have a USB 2.0/eSATA combo jack for high-speed data peripherals. Bluetooth also comes standard.
You could customize your V470 in a wide variety of ways, spending all the way up to $899 for one with a quad-core Core i7 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a 750GB (but 5,400rpm) hard drive. Some versions also have Nvidia GeForce 520M dedicated graphics; ours, and most V470 models, only come with Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics.