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Lenovo IdeaPad V460 Review: Business on the Outside, Graphics Inside

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The Lenovo IdeaPad V460 is a business notebook that shares many features with the consumer IdeaPad Y460, like switchable graphics but comes in a business friendly metal case. Overall this is a sturdy, durable and well equipped notebook but it falls short in a few areas including battery life and mousepad usability.

Lenovo IdeaPad V460 Quick Specs: The V460 is a 14″ metal cased 4.8 pound business notebook which as tested has a 2.27 GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 500GB hard drive and switchable graphics powered by a NVIDIA GeForce 310M with 512MB RAM.

Who is this Notebook For?

The Lenovo IdeaPad V460 is a metal cased business class notebook that comes with a fingerprint reader, USB portlocker and data encryption to provide security and ease of use to small business user who may not need all the trappings of a ThinkPad. The switchable graphics give this business notebook a bit more power than you will find on the ThinkPad Edge notebooks.

Build and Design

The Lenovo V460 is an incredibly well-built notebook, coming close to the feel of a ThinkPad and the build quality is much higher than the consumer IdeaPad line. Thanks in large part to the metallic design that covers the lid and makes up the case of this notebook it feels sturdy and able to handle the rigors of the road. The case and the display are both solid showing little to no flex under stress and the center of the notebook doesn’t offer give indicating a solid structure throughout. This notebook is one of the most solidly built devices I have had the pleasure of using and the night and day difference in build quality switching between the V460 and the Y460 or almost any consumer notebook is impossible to miss.

Screen

The screen offers a reasonable amount of tilt and though it does not go flat like many business notebooks do it does go back enough for a comfortable viewing angle while typing in numerous positions. As for brightness the V460′s 14″ display is more than bright enough at full brightness and usable for text and web work at half to three-quarter brightness without any loss of utility. The display is glossy which limits the use in outdoor settings and is a surprising choice but the gloss factor is low compared to many consumer models which helps with bright overhead lights.

Mouse and Keyboard

The keyboard is very usable but instead of the island or chiclet style that many manufacturers are using, the V460 has a traditional style that is almost a mix of a traditional style. The keyboard is still very usable for a its style likely due in large part to the extra space between keys that is noticeable when compared to many consumer notebook keyboards. In all a very usable keyboard that is also surprisingly quiet, save the space bar, when you consider how responsive the keys are. There was no flex or mushiness in the keyboard.

One annoyance is that the Fn key is where you’ll find the Ctrl key on most notebooks and unlike the ThinkPad line which allows the user to swap these easily the IdeaPad doesn’t appear to offer this option. For diehard Lenovo users this may not be an issue but even after several weeks it was hard to adjust to the movement of a key I use so often. The rest of the key placement is where you would expect and of standard size.

The mousepad on the V460 was originally one of the most annoying I had ever used but a software update and tweaking the settings made it better, though there were still some issues when trying to make a precise movement such as selecting a specific block of text. After using for a week or two I was able to get a better feel for the mouse but you will still want an external mouse for long work sessions.

One highlight was the textured surface of the touchpad that made the surface usable even with a damp fingertip which is good news for people working in a hot office or who just set down a perspiring glass of iced tea. One final note is that this is not a multi-touch mousepad like many commonly available on notebooks today so you’ll need to use a dedicated scroll section.

Processor and Performance

The IdeaPad V460 is a well equipped notebook and in our tests we found that the Intel Core i5 processor, coupled with switchable graphics, was able to handle pretty much any task we threw at it. From surfing the web and working in PowerPoint to editing pictures and video this machine delivered. When we enabled the NVIDIA GeForce GPU we could even play a game like Far Cry 2 on the low setting without any trouble; which is not something we would normally expect to find on a business notebook such as this.

When editing video with the NVIDIA CUDA enabled GPU turned on we could render a video in a matter of minutes, three and a half to be exact, that would take significantly longer on a standard system.

Unfortunately the user is required to switch between graphic modes unlike many of the new switchable systems, like Optimus, that automatically detects when to use the battery saving integrated graphic and when to switch to the more powerful dedicated GPU.  Instead of automatically switching the GPU is controlled by a small switch on the front of the computer which, when flipped, can switch the GPU in 5-20 seconds, during which the screen will flicker. While an intelligent switching solution would be nice, the user still retains control and can choose power or battery life depending on their current needs.

Audio

While the V460 isn’t packing Dolby certified sound like many consumer models it does have a decent set of speakers that can fill a room without distorting or sounding tinny. This will come in handy for presentations, catching a show on Hulu or playing a game using the GeForce GPU.

Heat and Noise

In our tests the V460 maintained a usable temperature during various tasks including the palmrest and the bottom of the notebook which is good news if you plan to use this notebook on your lap in an airport or in the car. While the fan was running for most of the use it was not loud enough to be distracting or even audible in most settings.

Battery

The battery life of the V460 was very low. Even when using the integrated graphics for web surfing and editing office documents we were only able to achieve 2 hours and 36 minutes of battery life with the screen at two-thirds brightness. With the NVIDIA GeForce 310M enabled, editing a video, battery life dropped to 1 hour and 37 minutes. For a business notebook we would have expected the battery life to last longer, preferably over the 4 hour mark when using the integrated graphics.

Connectivity

Like many business notebook the V460 has a good number of ports to handle peripherals and external storage; but it is missing an eSata port.

Left (left to right): Kensington, VGA, Vent, HDMI, Ethernet, USB 2.0, USB 2.0 Microphone, Headphone,
Right (left to right): Expresscard 34, DVD Drive, USB 2.0, Power
Front (left to right): GPU Switch, Wireless switch, SD card reader
Closeup of GPU and Wireless switches

Software and Business Features

The IdeaPad V460 is a small business notebook and as such it comes with software and extra features to make it easier for a small business owner to handle security and backups. For security, the Lenovo Security Suite is a collection of tools like the built-in fingerprint reader and Portlocker software, which prevents unauthorized USB devices from being used to steal information, to secure your computer in an easy to configure manner. The V460 also features a hard drive drop sensor to protect your hard drive from damage during a fall and an easy to use back up system that can be used to make a system backup to an external hard drive for safekeeping.

Value

The all metal construction, security features and the GPU/CPU combo offer a very powerful machine for around $899 configured closely to the review unit we have. Even with the touchy mousepad and low battery life this notebook does provide a tempting combination of power and durability for the price but if you don’t need all of the extras and want to save some money you should look at the ThinkPad Edge Line which offer the traditional pointer and better keyboard, though they do lack the small business security features.

Conclusion

In the end the IdeaPad V460 offers a tempting packaged for small business users who need the ability to switch to a higher power GPU, security features and want a durable design that should last longer than a consumer notebook with similar components.

Pros:

  • All metal case
  • Powerful processor and switchable graphics
  • Fingerprint reader and small business software

Cons:

  • Battery Life
  • User must switch Graphics Mode
  • Mousepad was troublesome during precise pointing

Lenovo IdeaPad V460 Detailed Specs:

Brand Lenovo
Model IdeaPad V460
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
Processor / Graphics Intel Core i5-4300M 2.27GHz

Switchable NVIDIA GeForce 310M 512MB

Memory 4 GB DDR3 RAM 1066 MHz (Max 8GB)
Hard drive 500 GB HDD 5400 rpm
Display / Resolution 14.0-inch HD 1366×768 High-definition LED-backlit
Removable Storage DVD±RW – Dual Layer
Wireless Support Intel Wireless Wi-Fi Link 1000 Wireless-B+G+N, Bluetooth 2.1
Communications WebCam, Ethernet
Input Devices Full-size keyboard, Touchpad
Power 6-cell battery
Memory card reader Yes, Media Card Reader supporting SD and major formats
Accessible memory slots 2 slots
Maximum Memory Expansion Up to 8 GB
Ports Headphone/speaker/line-out jack, Microphone-in jack, DC-in jack for AC adapter, ExpressCard 34
Additional Ports 3 x USB (2.0), HDMI, VGA
Audio Integrated speakers
Weight 4.85 lbs.
Dimension 13.3 in x 1 in x 9.2 in
PC Card Slot Expresscard 34
Webcam Built in w/ mic
Warranty 1-Yr Parts and Labor

Josh Smith is a longtime mobile tech user, currently using a Droid as his primary smartphone. Josh is also an editor at Notebooks.com where he reviews notebooks and other mobile tech. Follow Josh on Twitter @Josh_Smith or email him Josh@Notebooks.com.

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