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Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d review: Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d

Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
7 min read

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.

Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d 06462NU Black Intel® Core™ i7-720QM (1.60GHz 1333MHz 6MB)

Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d

The Good

Includes 3D hardware; powerful CPU/GPU combo; excellent keyboard and touch pad.

The Bad

Polarized eyeglass 3D system isn't very impressive.

The Bottom Line

One of only a handful of 3D laptops, the Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d skips active shutter glasses for an inferior technology, but keeps the A-list price.

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
Height 0.8-1.3 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 15.6 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 6.1/7.6 pounds
Category Midsize

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
Expansion ExpressCard/34 ExpressCard/54
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.

Juice box
Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d Average watts per hour Off (60%) 0.33

Annual power consumption cost
Lenovo IdeaPad Y560D 3D
Asus G73jh-A1

The Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d ran for 1 hour and 53 minutes on our video playback battery drain test. For a 15-inch laptop, that's poor, but compared with other high-end gaming-centric systems we've tested recently (both 2D and 3D), it actually did rather well, beating out the HP Envy 17 and Toshiba A665-3DV, among others. That said, despite its overall portability, this system shouldn't spend too much time away from a wall outlet.

Lenovo includes an industry-standard one-year parts and labor warranty with the system. Upgrading to a three-year plan will cost an extra $99, or $149 if you include onsite service. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and driver downloads.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Y560D 3D

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Y560D 3D

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Y560D 3D

Unreal Tournament 3 (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1280x800, 0X AA, 0X AF*  
1440x900, 4X AA, 8X AF*  
1920x1200, 4X AA, 8X AF*  
Lenovo IdeaPad Y560D 3D @ 1280x768

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaPad Y560D 3D

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Lenovo IdeaPad Y560D 3D
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i7-720QM; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5730; 500GB Hitachi 7,200rpm

Toshiba Satellite A665-3DV
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.73GHz Intel Core i7-740QM; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTS 350M; 640GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

HP Envy 17-1003
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i7 720QM; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1333MHz; 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5850; 500GB Hitachi 7,200rpm

Asus G73jh-A1
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i7 720QM; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5870; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm (x2)

Alienware m15x
Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit); 2.0GHz Intel Core i7-920XM; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 260M; 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm

Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d 06462NU Black Intel® Core™ i7-720QM (1.60GHz 1333MHz 6MB)

Lenovo IdeaPad Y560d

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7Battery 5Support 7