A purple tinge and an AMD processor set this laptop apart
Most laptops come fitted with Intel processors and for good reason – they're fast and power efficient. The Ideapad Z575 is the first laptop we've seen in a while to come with an AMD processor instead. Sadly Lenovo hasn't used one of AMD's latest ‘Trinity' series processors, relying instead on an older A6 3420m quad-core chip.
The processor is also paired with a generous 8GB of memory. Its performance in our demanding movie conversion test was fast for a laptop at this price and is certainly faster than any Ultrabook. There are faster but more expensive Intel-based laptops available, but the Z575 is certainly quick enough for most everyday tasks. Unfortunately this doesn't include gaming – the graphics chip is barely capable of playing the latest 3D games so you're better off sticking with older, less demanding titles.
The Z575 has two graphics chips, a dedicated chip for gaming and an integrated chip that uses less power when running on battery – the laptop automatically switches between the two (although you can override this in the graphics settings if you really want to). This helped the Z575 achieve a battery life of almost five hours in our web-browsing test, which is surprisingly good for a 15.6in laptop.
At a heavy weight of 2.6kg though, it's unlikely the Z575 will be taken travelling very often. If you do take it out and about, it's reasonably sturdy and has an attractive brushed metal appearance that looks purple under certain lighting.
As expected the 15.6in screen has a resolution of 1,366x768 pixels. It's reasonably bright, but the appearance of colours in photos can change dramatically if you're not sitting directly front and center of the screen. This makes it ill-suited for dedicated photographers, but it's a good enough display for casual use.
Lenovo has squeeze in a number pad on the keyboard, but we're not fans of this arrangement on 15.6in laptops. There isn't quite enough room for the number pad, so its keys are narrower than the rest and it's also packed in tightly next to the letter keys. Both of these factors can trip up touch-typists used to more spacious keyboards. The keys themselves also felt a bit mushy, so you're sometimes not quite sure if you've successfully pressed a key or not.
The touchpad also has issues. Although large and accurate, the pad did take a little while to recognise our fingers after not having been used for a while. Although annoying, this does prevent accidental movement of the cursor by fingers inadvertently brushing up against the pad while typing.
The Z575 doesn't have any USB3 ports, but it does have three USB2 ports, one of which doubles as an eSATA connector which is an alternative way of connecting fast external storage. There's plenty of internal storage too with a large 750GB internal hard disk.
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The Ideapad Z575 is an attractive, fast and inexpensive laptop but it's let down by its keyboard and touchpad. If you're still tempted, try using it in the flesh before buying.
Inexpensive; Good performance and battery life; Large hard disk
Imperfect keyboard and touchpad
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