I’ve said many times that the key to buying a laptop is to decide first what size you want, then look at how you use it.

I don’t review a lot of laptops formally, I love playing with different makes and models, sizes and formats, but generally, there are three key things you need to look for:

Size (monitor size), Speed (Processor), Space (Hard Drive)

The Lenovo ideapad Z560 is a great model, which offers choice up to the top line Core i7 processor, 8Gb of Ram and a 640Gb Hard drive.  So, what’s it like?The Ideapad Z560 is a 15inch (15.6 to be precise) HD Screen (not FULL HD), which comes with Windows 7 Home Premium.

You can option up a Blu-Ray player into the mix, but with the screen at 768 pixels not 1080, you’d have to wonder why? Other than to allow you to use the machine as a Blu-Ray player for your TV

Design wise, the Z560 has a sleek black lid, curved edges and a simple lenovo logo in the top right of the lid.  Open up and you’ve got a nice silver/grey base with a black keyboard poking through which is a great look.

On the sides you’ll find just two USB ports (one on each side), ESATA, HDMI, VGA and Ethernet ports, the DVD/CD drive and on the front the 5 in 1 card reader.  I’d like to see more USB ports on all computers, but with ESATA and HDMI you’ve got the makings of a simple and useful Home entertainment PC.

One unique feature on the Z560 are the OneKey theatre buttons – touch screen like buttons at the top of the keypad, allowing you to MUTE at a single touch, check the Energy Managment settings, and an easy touch switch between display settings (normal, Movie and intelligent).

With Dolby Audio and the NVidia graphics card, this is a great device for more than just Word Processing and Email.

You could easily challenge this machine to advanced photo editing and a level of video editing without any fuss.

Boot up the ideapad Z560 and you’ll get the Lenovo ‘VeriFace’ login option, which allows you to login using just your face – Facial recognition.  Very cool feature.

I don’t run a performance lab, whatsoever, but  a quick look at the ‘Windows Experience Index” confirms a few things.  With an overall rating possibility of 7.9, the Z560 runs at 4.9, with the Processor scoring 6.8, The RAM 5.9, Gaming Graphics score was 5.9 and the hard disk rates at 5.9.

More than respectable scores.

Once again, I don’t think recommending specific machines serves much purpose when so many laptops are out there, and side by side it might often come down to look and feel, with the same ‘engine’ under the hood.

I tested the Z560 with an i5 processor and 4GB Ram, this was an excellent machine, did everything I asked of it extremely well.  Interestingly, comparing to my wife’s Core i3 laptop, I did notice the difference in performance in the i5 which was great.

Starting at $1199, this is a great laptop to put in your list to check out.  How you ultimately decide on what to buy is an interesting one for me, so please, let me know how YOU choose your Laptop.  Rest assured, if you choose the Ideapad Z560 from Lenovo, you won’t be disappointed.

A full Look at the Z560 specs and details from the Lenovo Flyer is below:

• Up to Intel® CoreTM i7 processor with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology*
• Up to Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium
• Lenovo Enhanced Experience for Windows® 7—a faster, richer and easier way to use your PC
• 15.6″ HD screen (1366×768), 16:9 widescreen
• Up to NVIDIA® GeForce® 315M 1GB graphics
• Up to 8GB DDR3 memory, up to 640GB HDD storage
• Integrated Bluetooth®1 and high-speed integrated 802.11n WiFi
• Integrated DVD or Blu-ray DiscTM drive
• USB2.0, eSATA connectors and 5-in-1 card reader
• Integrated web camera
• DirectShare—easily synchronize your files with another notebook without connecting to the internet
• Dolby® Advanced AudioTM sound enhancement
• HD graphics support and HDMI output
• Numeric Keypad for easier data logging and gaming
• OneKeyTM Theater II one-touch audio-visual optimization for clearer, brighter images and richer audio
• VeriFaceTM face recognition—a fun way to log in to your PC
• Chiclet keyboard with individual rounded keys
• Hairline metallic effect cover
• Lenovo Energy Management—protects the long-term durability of the battery and uses advanced energy-saving technology to increase time spent between charges
• OneKeyTM Rescue System makes data backup and recovery simple so you can spend time on more enjoyable tasks