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Lenovo IdeaPad V470 review: Lenovo IdeaPad V470

Lenovo IdeaPad V470

Scott_Stein.jpg
Scott Stein
Scott_Stein.jpg

Scott Stein

Editor at Large

I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets.

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6 min read

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.

Lenovo IdeaPad V470 43962BU Dusk Black 2nd generation Intel Core i3-2330M (2.20GHz 1333MHz 3MB)
6.8

Lenovo IdeaPad V470

The Good

Solid keyboard and a sturdy build are two of the best attributes of the <b>Lenovo IdeaPad V470</b>, and there are plenty of configuration options.

The Bad

Generic design and a price that's not much different from other competing products with similar specs; lacks USB 3.0.

The Bottom Line

While you could credit the Lenovo IdeaPad V470 with being a soundly built 14-inch laptop at a reasonable price, it's not inexpensive enough or well-featured enough to avoid feeling anonymous in a laptop buyer's market.

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
Chipset Intel HM65
Graphics Intel HD 3000
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
Dimensions (WD) 13.3 x 9.2 inches
Height 1.2 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 14.0 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 4.6/5.3 pounds
Category Midsize

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.

This particular model's 2.2 GHz Intel Core i3-2330M CPU is an entry-level processor in Intel's 2011 Sandy Bridge Core i-series lineup. Its performance is still good for the average user, but benchmarks reveal it's noticeably slower at both single- and multitasking. I kept multiple windows open streaming video and doing other projects and the laptop fared fine, although the left-hand-side fan began to get noisy and warm. The included integrated graphics will be fine for basic, casual gaming and other media-oriented tasks, enough for a basic user to get by (basic video editing, photo processing, and the like).

Juice box
Lenovo IdeaPad V470 Average watts per hour
Off (60 percent) 0.6
Sleep (10 percent) 0.73
Idle (25 percent) 7.24
Load (5 percent) 31.3
Raw kWh 33.36
Annual energy cost $3.79

The included six-cell battery yielded unimpressive results: 3 hours and 54 minutes of video playback. That's well below the 5 hours-plus mark we've seen on a number of laptops this year. The Dell Inspiron 14z, at a similar price, has a battery that lasted over 5 hours on the same test.

Lenovo includes a standard one-year warranty with the IdeaPad V470. On Lenovo's Web site, that base warranty can be extended at time of purchase up to three years for an additional $99, or $160 with accidental damage protection and in-home service. Webchat and an easy-to-find 24/7 toll-free number can be found on Lenovo's Web site, along with software downloads and documentation.

Here's the real question: will a small business customer, or even an average user, find a laptop like the Lenovo IdeaPad V470 an attractive option? Most likely not: a thin MacBook Air might be a better bet for style, and there are plenty of equally affordable Core i3 laptops on the market to compare against that offer equivalent bang for the buck. Lenovo's construction quality, keyboard, and a fingerprint reader are the V470's biggest draws. They're not enough to make this laptop transcend being an utterly average, albeit highly functional, machine.

System configurations
Toshiba Satellite L755-S5214
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1,696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Lenovo Ideapad V470
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1,696MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Sony Vaio VPC-EB44FX/WI
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.53GHz Intel Core i3-380M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 128MB(Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Asus U31SD-A1
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB NVIDIA GeForce 520M / 64MB(Dedicated) Intel GMA HD; 640GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

HP ProBook 5330m
Windows 7 Professional w/ SP1; 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated)/1,315MB (Total) Intel GMA HD; 500GB Toshiba 7,200rpm

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Lenovo IdeaPad V470 43962BU Dusk Black 2nd generation Intel Core i3-2330M (2.20GHz 1333MHz 3MB)
6.8

Lenovo IdeaPad V470

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7Battery 6Support 7