Though 3D is a big buzzword in the television world, it's been slower to take off in desktop and laptop TVs. That's in some ways surprising, as a tested, functional 3D infrastructure has existed for PCs for a couple of years now, in the form of Nvidia's 3D Vision technology. We've seen only a handful of laptops with 3D hardware and glasses, some with Nvidia's technology and a couple with a competing system called TriDef.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d falls into the latter category, using the same TriDef 3D technology as the Acer Aspire 5738DG-6165 we looked at last year. Both of these laptops use passive polarized glasses instead of the battery-powered active shutter glasses used by both Nvidia 3D Vision laptops and many other forms of consumer 3D devices.
At $1,399, it's reasonably priced for the components, as the Intel Core i7 CPU and ATI Radeon 5730 graphics are nice upscale parts. But HP's non-3D 14-inch Envy starts at only $999 and a closer config is $1,249. Toshiba's 3D laptop, the Satellite A665-3DV is $1,599, with similar specs plus Nvidia's better 3D Vision hardware and a Blu-ray drive.
That's the main problem here: the TriDef 3D system is functional, but not impressive. It requires you to tilt the laptop screen to just the right angle, and then run games through a third-party wrapper app, which kills the performance (we saw frame rates drop by more than half in 3D mode). Visually, in the sample videos and game tests we tried, the system sometimes offered a decent 3D experience, but more often than not we ended up squinting, closing one eye, or looking away.
Without the 3D, the Y560 is a perfectly capable high-end laptop with a very nice design, but anyone interested in that would do better to save a few bucks and check out the many non-3D versions of Lenovo's otherwise excellent IdeaPad laptops.
|Price as reviewed||$1,399|
|Processor||1.6GHz Intel Core i7 720QM|
|Memory||4GB, 1066MHz DDR3|
|Hard drive||500GB 7,200rpm|
|Chipset||Mobile Intel PM55 Express Chipset|
|Graphics||ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5730|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)|
|Dimensions (WD)||15.2 x 10 inches|
|Screen size (diagonal)||15.6 inches|
|System weight / Weight with AC adapter||6.1/7.6 pounds|
Lenovo continues to create very nice-looking laptops with its IdeaPad line. The Y560D is about as far from the office-ready Lenovo mindset as we've seen, with a funky tribal tattoo design on the back of the lid. Other than that, the color scheme is similar to systems such as the IdeaPad Y460, with a copper accent strip around the outer edge of the lid and an interior mix of not-too-glossy black plastic and matte-black keys.
A row of backlit touch-sensitive control buttons sit on top of the keyboard. Running a finger back and forth along them pops up a quick-launch bar, with assignable slots for different apps. It's clever-looking, but it takes some getting used to. Running your finger along the right part of it can also change the desktop background image, but we never got the hang of pulling that off consistently.
The keyboard and touch pad are excellent, even though the Y560 uses a tapered-key keyboard (more like the traditional ThinkPad design), rather than the flat-topped island-style one seen on most other IdeaPad models.
The 15.6-inch wide-screen display offers a 1,366x768-pixel native resolution, which is standard for a 16:9 midsize laptop screen. It's great for 720p HD video content, but it can't display 1080p content at full resolution. Hard-core gamers may want higher resolutions, and we were also troubled by the faint horizontal lenticular lines that are sometimes visible, even when not using any 3D applications; that's a byproduct of the polarized 3D system.
|Lenovo IdeaPad Y560D||Average for category [midsize]|
|Video||VGA plus HDMI||VGA plus HDMI or DisplayPort|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks||Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks|
|Data||4 USB 2.0 (1 YSB/eSATA), SD card reader||4 USB 2.0, 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|
Under the hood, the IdeaPad Y560d is a very impressive machine. With a 1.6GHz Intel Core i7 720QM CPU, a 500GB 7200rpm hard drive, and ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5730 graphics, it's powerful enough for just about any task. The system holds its own against other high-end laptops such as the HP Envy 17 and Toshiba A665-3DV (both also Core i7 systems) in our benchmark tests.
But what we're really interested in is the 3D capabilities. We've had experience with the TriDef system before, and found this version to be largely the same. The laptop includes a basic pair of cheap plastic polarized glasses, plus a second pair of clip-ons for those of us who already wear glasses (be warned: it's not a cool look).
The screen has to be tilted at just the right angle. For us it was about 120 degrees back, and with us sitting about twice as far from the screen as we normally would. The effect works best with objects that recede into the distance, where we could sometimes get an excellent 3D effect. Objects that popped out of the screen toward us often got blurry or out of focus, as did some menus rendered in 3D. Keep in mind that it's very important to keep your head still to main just the perfect angle.
To get games to play in 3D, they have to be run through the TriDef wrapper app, which is an easy enough process, but one with a lot of processing overhead. Playing Street Fighter IV (which looked very good in 3D), we got an average of 32 frames per second (at the native 1,366x768-pixel resolution) when running the game normally, but that dropped to about 13 frames per second when running it in 3D. That's especially disappointing given the high-powered hardware.
On the positive side, the plastic polarized glasses are passive, and don't require batteries or recharging. Also, no external IR emitter dongle is required (as in Nvidia 3D Vision systems), making this a more compact, no-extras-required setup.