Lenovo is best known for its ThinkPad range of laptops, but those machines generally command high prices that not everyone can afford. The company's Essential B series is aimed at those who aren't quite as flush with cash. Despite packing in a second-generation Intel Core i3 processor, our configuration of the 15.6-inch Essential B570 can be bought for a shade under £390 from Laptops Direct and other vendors.
Far from minging
One glance at most budget laptops will tell you where the savings have been made. They usually look duller than dishwater, with a chassis hewn from the type of plastic you used to get on Taiwanese-made ghettoblasters in the '80s. Thankfully, the B570 largely manages to avoid this fate.
Although the chassis is predominantly made from matte black plastic, Lenovo has added a subtle pinstripe pattern on the lid and keyboard surround. It really helps to improve the machine's appearance.
The keys on the isolated keyboard are unusually shaped, with a rounded design. The end result is that the keyboard looks very distinctive and not unappealing. The keys are excellent to type on, allowing you to bash out quick emails easily.
There's a full numerical keypad on the right-hand side, which may come in handy if you often have to add up figures in Excel. We've got no complaints about the trackpad either. It's very large and wide, so there's plenty of surface area to play with, and the two big, long buttons feel solid and respond with a reassuring click when pressed.
For a laptop in this price range, the 15.6-inch display's resolution of 1,366x768 pixels is pretty standard. The display is one of the better ones we've seen on a budget laptop though. Its glossy coating is rather reflective, but it produces impressively rich and punchy colours, which make photos and videos a pleasure to view.
Often the displays on budget laptops suffer from poor viewing angles, but that's not the case here. Even when viewed from pretty extreme angles, colours and contrast remain consistent across the surface of the screen.