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Pro’s: Aluminum top, security software, strong performance, many ports & features
Con’s: Easy to trigger touchpad with palm, lots of competition in the SMB space, boring design
|Specs||Lenovo IdeaPad Y460|
Intel Core i5-430M (2.26-2.53GHz)
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Switchable NVIDIA GeForce 310M 512MB
320GB 5400rpm SATA
14-inch Full HD (1366×768) LED backlit; 220 nits
|Ports||4-in-1 card reader|
ExpressCard 34 slot
(3) USB 2.0
VGA & HDMI output
13.4 x 9.2 x 0.8-1.3 inches
6-cell: 4.85 lb
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Lenovo’s new V Series, aimed at small business owners, is easily the most understated IdeaPad of the bunch. The top of the chassis, including the palm rest, is made of a silver/gray aluminum that comes across as sophisticated, but definitely understated. The bottom of the system is a standard black plastic.
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The V460 keeps the IdeaPad trademark stylized vents on the bottom, as well as the numerous touch-sensitive buttons above the keyboard.
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As with all other IdeaPads, the V460 has a 6-row design that places the Home/End/PgUp/PgDn keys in a column on the right side of the keyboard. This particular design is my favorite of the 6-row types, as those four little keys are quite crucial for touch typers.
Layout aside, the feel and tactile feedback of the V460’s keyboard are excellent. There is no flex to speak of and most people should find themselves right at home.
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This model has one of the better touchpads I’ve encountered in the IdeaPad lineup and actually seems very similar to the redesigned touchpad found in the ThinkPad T400s. The touchpad surface is covered in a series of slightly raised dots, giving it a texture that helps separate it from the feel of the palm rest.
Performance is excellent, with good response and interaction. As with many other laptops, particularly consumer laptops, the touchpad is placed slightly left of center and as such my large hands accidentally trigger it on a regular basis. This is quite a pain when typing a lot and false-positives are only slightly reduced when turning up the “palmcheck” sensitivity.
The other main issue with the touchpad is in its software. Manufactured by Elan, the touchpad’s built-in scrolling only scrolls a few lines every time you drag your finger. With most touchpads, if you place your finger at the top right corner and drag to the bottom right corner, the screen would scroll down nearly an entire page. In this case, one has to remove their finger from the touchpad and place it again to scroll down another few lines. This makes scrolling down a long page relatively tedious.
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As with all of Lenovo’s consumer laptops, the IdeaPad V460 sports a 16:9 ratio LCD with HD resolution (1366×768). The 14-inch display is rated at 220 nits and is plenty bright for most all situations. This is a glossy display though, so outdoor usage or those stuck under fluorescent lights may want to consider another system.
Overall the color and image quality are good on the V460’s display, certainly on par with the rest of the industry. Due to a hinge design that prevents the LCD from going too far back, you don’t really have to be concerned with vertical viewing angles. The viewing angles are reasonable, but again on par with competitors.
There is actually very little loss of viewability when looking at various horizontal angles, but changing vertical angles causes a the colors to quickly distort and invert. Again, this is on par with most glossy LCDs out there today.
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While the V460 is an IdeaPad, Lenovo has designated the V Series its “small business” lineup and adjusted the feature set accordingly. It still has an HDMI output, compared to the business ThinkPads with DisplayPort support, but lacks the JBL-branded speakers that IdeaPads normally boast so brightly.
You’ll also notice there is no longer a button for toggling between “Normal” and “Movie/Vibrant” display modes. We found that the Movie mode made a noticeable difference in the contrast and black colors when watching movies, so this is a missed feature.
Despite the SMB focus, the speakers on the V460 are actually rather decent. They get sufficiently loud and don’t sound as tinny as some notebooks can. You’ve even got redundant volume controls, with Fn+Arrow key and soft-touch key operation.
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Features & Technology
The V460 of course comes with the newest Intel platform, offering a choice of Core i3 or i5 processors. Some models have the standard Intel integrated graphics, but our configuration has switchable graphics with the NVIDIA GeForce 310M 512MB discrete GPU.
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On the front edge of the machine is a small chrome toggle switch that controls the switchable graphics. When the LED next to the switch is lit up, that lets you know the discrete GPU is engaged.
It also comes loaded with a healthy set of standard features, like an ExpressCard34 slot, card reader, HDMI output, and three USB 2.0 ports. One thing that does help differentiate the V460 from its IdeaPad counterparts is the optional fingerprint reader and several software programs designed to help encrypt and protect your data.
Connectivity & Ports
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Left side (front to back): Headphone & mic jacks, two USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, HDMI output, fan vent, VGA output
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Right side (front to back): ExpressCard34 slot, SIM card slot, optical drive, USB 2.0 port, AC power plug
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Front (left to right): graphics switch, WiFi switch, card reader
Lenovo is pretty generous with the preloaded software on their IdeaPads. You get a full suite of CD/DVD burning software that should cover most users’ basic needs. DVD playback is covered of course and thankfully the bloatware is kept to a minimum.
The worst offender is the McAfee anti-virus trial, which bugs you to activate the program, but can of course be easily removed. The MS Office trial is there as well, along with a few other programs.
Lenovo has also included several data encryption and protection programs, designed to put the small business owner at a bit more ease with their sensitive data. We played a bit with these and came away somewhat impressed. Here’s a rundown of what you are able to do:
- Create a variable sized encrypted storage area that is easily mounted/dismounted (e.g. TrueCrypt)
- Disable access to removable drives mounted via USB or the card reader
- Fingerprint authentication (duh)
- Data backup
For the more technically inclined, this is nothing special. For the small business owner, this makes protecting important data extremely easy. Still, we can’t help but feel that if you want no nonsense data security you can’t beat a ThinkPad with a hardware TPM chip and Full Disc Encryption hard drive.
On a last note, for whatever reason Lenovo opted to use 29GB of you hard drive space for a second partition that includes 9GB of driver files.
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Our V460 was equipped very similarly to the IdeaPad Y460 we last reviewed, with a Core i5 processor and switchable graphics. As with most IdeaPads, it is held back by its 6-cell battery.
In this case, we have an NVIDIA GeForce 310M filling the role of the discrete GPU. We put the V460 through our usual paces of heavy web browsing with some Flash video. This time though, we watched various YouTube HD clips for around 25 minutes, instead of our usual Netflix routine which uses Microsoft’s Silverlight technology rather than Flash.
With this slightly modified usage test, our V460 lasted about 2 hours 55 minutes with the integrated GPU. Flipping the switch (literally) to the discrete GPU dropped this runtime down to only 2 hours 5 minutes. These runtimes are very comparable to the Y460 we tested.
Unfortunately the V460 continues the IdeaPad lineup’s history of unimpressive battery life. While the runtime is perfectly reasonable given the battery capacity, these systems need larger batteries to be usable away from the desk for more than a couple hours.
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Real World Usage
As expected, the V460 speeds along through all of your every day tasks. We were especially surprised at how fast it resumes from standby, though maybe this blogger is jaded by using older systems not optimized for Windows 7.
System temperature and fan noise were never an issue with the V460. It has a bit thicker chassis, measuring 0.8 – 1.3 inches, which likely allows for a more robust cooling system. When the fan does spin up, if you’re pegging the CPU or running the discrete GPU around the block, it can be rather loud. Luckily you won’t encounter this very often.
When running down the battery watching YouTube clips, we noticed that the laptop would have trouble buffering the clips as the battery drained down. A little research revealed that another PC in the same room, connected to the same wireless network, had no trouble streaming the same YouTube clips at the same time. It seems the default Energy Star power scheme might be a little aggressive with the wireless power saving, so you may want to tweak those settings.
We really liked the aluminum top cover on the V460, which gives it a very high class feel compared to most IdeaPads. Unfortunately the brushed metal look of the top cover also makes it a look a bit bland, and not in the “classic” way that a ThinkPad might seem bland. It is just an expanse of gray metal with a rather sore Lenovo logo.
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Lenovo’s IdeaPad V460 is a bit of an outcast. It’s brethren are flashy consumer laptops, while it is trying to be a serious (small) business PC. It mostly succeeds as an SMB laptop, with the more robust chassis, strong feature set, and respectable data security software. As always there are compromises, which will leave most wanting more battery life and probably a bit lower price.
When comparing the V460 to its more consumer relatives like the IdeaPad Y460 we reviewed, there is no question what a small business shopper should choose. The V460 offers a small handful of features that should be the minimum for anyone with serious needs out of their laptop PC, which any other IdeaPad is notably lacking.
For those cross-shopping ThinkPads against this IdeaPad, you might notice the V460 and new ThinkPad Edge models have disturbingly similar feature sets. Both have HDMI output, the standard array of ports and processor options, no hardware security chip, and only some models get a fingerprint reader. The prices are also eerily similar, though the IdeaPads tend to get more discounts than the ThinkPad Edge models.
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Lastly, the argument becomes much harder if we look at ThinkPads like the T410 or even L412. The L Series is indeed ThinkPad-lite, but they do offer a TPM security chip, optional fingerprint readers on any model, and a chassis that should live up to the ThinkPad name. The L412 and V460 are priced rather close together, though again the V460 is regularly discounted.
It gets uglier when we look at the T410. For a small price premium, or even less depending on the sale currently running, you get a full-fledged ThinkPad with world class keyboard, top notch build quality, and the full gamut of security options. While you can easily run the price up on a T410, it’s hard to argue with $749 starting MSRP that includes a Core i3 chip and 2GB RAM. You can also buy high capacity batteries for the T410 that give you far more than 3 hours of runtime. IdeaPad V460 who? Check out our ThinkPad T410 review for more.
Overall, we liked the V460 as a foray into the small business PC space. It has a solid feature set for the price and enough security for the average user. Unfortunately Lenovo is quite adept at crowding their own product lines, giving you three other SMB-suitable options without clear branches in features and value. For those in the know, a ThinkPad L or T Series are the clear choices here.