The Lenovo B570 laptop is as friendly on the wallet as you can get, at the current price of $300 at Best Buy if it were any cheaper you’d wonder if there were some catch and you had to buy the operating system and processor separately. Or that you overslept and it’s now Black Friday and this is one of those door buster deals. But it is in fact October and the Lenovo B570 is a fully functional and indeed capable laptop being sold for $300. So what’s the catch, is the B570 a worthwhile bargain or is there a big gotcha that will make it a regrettable buy? Read on to find out!
The Lenovo B570 under review was purchased in store from Best Buy on October 24th. The sticker price was $299.99 and after all state and local taxes it ended up being around $320. The specs for the B570 under review, model number B570-1068AJU, are as follows:
Processor: Intel Pentium B950 dual core 2.10GHz
Screen: 15.6" 1366 x 768 resolution
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
B570 Dimensions: 14.9" x 9.9" x 1.3" (Width x Depth x Thickness)
Extra Features: 0.3MP Web Camera built-in, Fingerprint card reader
Optical Drive: DVD Burner
The good news here is that there’s nothing in these specs that jumps out as being an Achilles heel that drags the whole system down. Often times manufacturers will equip a budget configuration with only 2GB of RAM, but you get an adequate 3GB of RAM with the B570.
Lenovo B570 Design and Build
The Lenovo B570 is even more black than the mostly all black ThinkPad. The lid, sides, bottom, keyboard, screen bezel are all black in color. The laptop casing is made entirely of plastic, thankfully most of which is matte and resists picking up fingerprints. The one exception is the screen bezel that has a glossy black finish, which is pretty annoying seeing as you have to grab the screen to open it, which inevitably leaves greasy fingerprints there. It would have been preferable just to make the screen bezel the same type of plastic as the rest of the laptop case.
While the design isn’t imaginative in any way, it’s utilitarian and won’t exactly offend anyone either. So often today you see a company release a laptop with some design touch that is meant to add flair but in fact results in a gaudy look and two years from now will certainly be out of fashion. The B570 looks like it could have been made in 2005 and I bet you than in the year 2015 it’ll still be an acceptable but plain Jane design. And that’s not an entirely a bad thing if you really could care less about design and just want something that works.
I mentioned that the B570 is made of all plastic, which is what you’d expect at this price point. You’d have to pay 10-times as much to get a light weight durable carbon fiber finish. While the plastic case isn’t going to make for rugged protection in the event of a drop, if you’re only intention is to put the B570 on a desk and let it sit there as a desktop replacement machine, who cares if it’s made of plastic, aluminum, wood or Styrofoam? Ok, that last one might not be a good idea, but my point is that the B570 is mostly intended as a laptop that will be anchored to a desk or maybe carried around an office or home. It is not a good option for carrying around in a backpack or case a whole bunch. And so long as the B570 is on a desk it is safe from being dropped and won’t need the rugged casing or protection more expensive laptops offer.
The screen hinge on the B570 isn’t the greatest, there’s a bit of wobble to the screen indicating that the hinge is not rigid. You can also detect flexing in certain areas of the plastic case, but nothing horrible and the all important palm rests are firm enough to prevent any sinking caused by hands resting there.
Lenovo B570 Weight
The B570 is not intended as a portable laptop, but in case you do need to carry it around a bit then it’s always good to know the carrying weight:
Without the power adapter the B570 weighs in at 5lbs 7.4 ounces, or roughly 5.5lbs, with the power adapter the weight comes to 5lbs 15 ounces, or around 5.9lbs. It’s actually amazing how light the power adapter is, in the recent review of the ThinkPad Edge E425 I was horrified to find the adapter weighed 1lbs. The B570 adapter is a mere half pound.
Lenovo B570 Dimensions
The Lenovo B570 is not skinny, it has a thickness of around 1.3". The dimensions are 14.9" x 9.9" x 1.3" (Width x Depth x Thickness), it’s a fairly wide laptop and actually just barely fits in my backpack so I wouldn’t call this laptop backpack friendly unless you have an oversized bag.
Lenovo B570 Performance
When you first hear about a $300 laptop the assumption is it’s probably crippled by some horrible processor, a lack of memory, ridiculously small hard drive or no operating system loaded. None of these are the case with the B570. I had never heard of the Intel B950 processor before, it’s a newer budget addition to the Intel Sandy Bridge lineup, but I was surprisingly pleased with the performance of this dual core 2.10GHz chip. In fact, the benchmarks it was able to score were quite good:
The PCMark Vantage score is the one to pay attention to there as it measures the overall system performance and will be most pertinent to the average user. The Lenovo B570 with its modest B950 processor outscored the recent Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E425 I reviewed, which cost $500. Granted, the graphics performance of the ThinkPad E425 was twice as good, but since the Lenovo B570 is in no way intended to be used for gaming or as a 3D graphics editor you shouldn’t expect much of or care too much about that score. Here’s a comparison char of the B570 to other recently reviewed laptops:
Notice that in no way is the B570 a serious laggard in the performance department, it holds its own. Benchmarks are great and all, but they’re somewhat artificial and you want to know about real usage performance right? No problem. I put the B570 to the test by playing some 1080p video, something that could potentially max out or even overwhelm some weak processors. The Intel B950 processor was adept at handling 1080p video, when running a YouTube video at 240p the processor utilization was only 5% and after switching to 1080p the processor momentarily jumped to 50% utilization and then settled at around 40%. Check out the video for this demonstration of the B570 performance review with the Intel B950 processor:
Lenovo B570 1080p Video Playback Performance
Lenovo B570 Screen
The B570 has a 15.6" screen with a 1366 x 768 resolution, a very standard resolution for this sized laptop. The screen has a glossy finish and gets very bright, which is great for movie viewing. There’s a built-in DVD player/burner so you can use this laptop as a media machine if you desire. And since we demonstrated already that it has no problem playing back 1080p Flash encoded video, Netflix or any other video streaming service will work well and look nice on this screen. The downside to the glossy screen is that it does reflect a lot of light, especially if you have strong backlighting behind you such as a window. For an example of what a window behind you will do to your viewing experience on the B570 glossy screen just check out the below picture:
That reflection you see in the upper right corner of the screen is a house across the street being reflected off this screen, talk about annoying mirror effect! If the room you are in is darkened or has even lighting, this won’t be as much of a problem, and the fact remains that the glossy screen finish really does make colors pop more. For work purposes, the glossy screen is a bit of a downer though and can cause eye strain after long hours.
Lenovo B570 Battery Life
I was very pleased with the Lenovo B570 battery life, expectations were low based on the price of the laptop and fact that it’s really just a desktop replacement style machine. However, the B570 was able to achieve 4 hours and 45 minutes of battery life with the screen brightness set to the second level (which was more than adequate in dimly lit room), Wi-Fi on and simply some light web surfing done now and again. If you’re playing video constantly and have the screen brightness all the way up the battery life will probably be closer to 3.5 hours. Overall, this is a pleasantly surprising amount of battery life.
Lenovo B570 Keyboard
I’m picky when it comes to keyboards and can’t say I’m a big fan of the chiclet style B570 keyboard, it’s nowhere near as high quality as the Lenovo ThinkPad line with their legendary keyboards, but it’s usable nonetheless. There’s a lot of space on the keyboard and Lenovo was even able to fit in a number pad, nice for the accountant types out there. The thing I couldn’t get used to was the cheap feel of the keys, I quite frequently found my fingers getting caught under some keys as well which made me fearful of popping off a key inadvertently. It’s just not a high quality feeling keyboard and so it does make you wonder if eventually keys might pop off if there’s an aggressive typist like myself at work. The top row of function keys are shrunken, but since they’re rarely used that’s no big deal. The Enter key is actually a little small due to the fact they had to shrink it to fit the number pad in, that’s too bad, I prefer an oversized Enter key and sometimes found myself mistyping when trying to hit it.
Lenovo B570 Ports
The B570 comes with all the ports you would need for the average user, including an HDMI port for video and audio out to a larger LCD TV or monitor. Let’s take a tour around the sides of the B570 to see where each port is located:
Left side: Power jack, VGA monitor out, HDMI, USB 2.0 / eSata combo, USB 2.0
Right side: Headphone port, microphone port, USB 2.0 port, optical drive (DVD Burner), USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet port.
Back side: No ports, just the battery
Front side: 6-in-1 Media card reader on the right side and wireless on/off switch
The fact you get an HDMI port, eSata port for fast data transfer to a portable hard drive and 6-in-1 media card reader is great for $300.
Lenovo B570 Webcam
You do get a built-in web camera with the B570, but the bad news is that it’s a paltry 0.3MP camera which leads to very grainy video. Oh well, what do you expect for the given price? You’ll have to pay up for a USB connected web camera from somebody like Logitech if you want to do higher quality web video chat.
Lenovo B570 Heat & Noise
The B570 behaved very well in terms of heat and noise. The fans rarely kicked in and therefore noise was kept to a minimum. Heat never became an issue when using this laptop on a desk, it’s too big and heavy to use on the lap but if you did go that route the bottom of the laptop stays cool enough to prevent any burning.
Lenovo B570 Review Conclusion
You just can’t go too wrong with the Lenovo B570-1068AJU for $300. I still can’t believe it’s being sold for such a price when you see horribly underpowered and small screen netbooks being sold for $350. The B570 is being sold at Best Buy for $300 is a bargain, and it’d still be a bargain if it were $350. The plastic build quality is of course not the greatest and the design looks are, well, boring to put it nicely. But if you’re just looking for a laptop that does basic tasks very competently, has all the ports you need, has good battery life and a decent screen then you’ll be shocked to know that you can get it all for $300 with this B570 configuration. And the best thing is you don’t have to wait for Black Friday and wrestle hundreds of other shoppers to get a really good deal.