Lenovo LaVie Z Series Review – Incredibly Light With Annoying Compromises
When it comes to laptops, there are a few different types of users. From those who do nothing more than Facebook to those who have their entire lives on the machines, it’s a broad spectrum. One thing that’s key with every laptop however is portability. After all, if it’s going to sit on a desk all day, you may as well have gotten a desktop. With their new LaVie Z series of Windows laptops, Lenovo wants to show case just how light and portable they can make a laptop without comprising quality or power. TL; DR, mission accomplished.
- 13.3″ inch WQHD IPS Touchscreen display
- Intel Core i7-5500U processor
- Intel HD Graphics 5500
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB SSD
- Windows 8.1 64-bit
*varies by model
Before we get into the full review, let me relay what my first impressions of the device were. Basically, “oh my word this thing is light”. When you pull this machine out of the box, that’s exactly what will go through your head as well. At first I thought perhaps the battery was missing or something like that, but nope, it’s just that light. That said, let’s get into the review.
The Lenovo LaVie Z is a laptop that would easily confuse you at first impression. It doesn’t quite look like a laptop worthy of it’s price tag (more on that later), but here’s the thing, it really is. The LaVie Z is a premium laptop is almost every way but one, it’s made of plastic. However the build quality is still top notch. Everything is well put together will little or no creaking from the machine when in use. It does feel a bit fragile, but that’s mostly because of the weight and the slight amount of flex in the center of the machine. However, that’s not the real story. It’s all about the weight with this machine.
Coming in at just over 2lbs, the Lenovo LaVie Z is one of the lightest laptops in the world, only slightly beaten by the new 2015 Apple MacBook. However the LaVie Z packs a full 13.3″ inch screen in that weight. This laptop is one that would fit the description of “ultra-portable”. It’s very easy to carry this laptop around, case or no case. If you have the 360 model (like I do), that gets even easier as you can hold it like a tablet if you’re still using it. Since this laptop is so light, it makes sense to have a model with the flip around display.
Software & Performance
As far as the software goes, the Lenovo LaVie Z runs Windows 8.1 on top of some pretty high end specifications. The model I used to test had an Intel Core i7 Processor with 8GB of RAM and this laptop absolutely flies. Multitasking with multiple programs or dozens of tabs open runs on this machine without breaking a sweat. Gaming is also great on this machine, but it’s not a gaming machine first. Sure it can handle a session of Minecraft or some other ligher games, but I can’t say it’s perfect for anything more than that.
As for pre-loaded apps, there are quite a few. None really get in the way, but there’s couple more than I expected. One of the ones pre-loaded is McAfee Security which comes with a 30-day free trial.
The LaVie Z also benefits greatly from the SSD storage inside. Boot up times are comparable to a Chromebook and doing just about anything with files is far quicker than I would have expected. As usual this review isn’t meant to tell you the benchmarks and exact information you might want to know about the machine, but simply whether or not you’ll enjoy it in your daily life. TL;DR, it’s going to great in everyday usage.
Keyboard And Trackpad
Let’s start off with the good, the trackpad. The trackpad on the LaVie Z is pretty solid. It’s accurate and very clicky. Gestures also work absolutely wonderfully on the trackpad as well. Now, for the bad. The keyboard of the LaVie Z series is absolutely horrid, at least for US users. It’s almost as if Lenovo never intended to bring this laptop to the US as the layout of the keyboard is very similar to that which would be seen in Japan. The buttons are shrunken and it’s extremely hard to get used to the layout. Generally I can type fairly quickly on just about any machine, but the Lenovo LaVie Z’s keyboard made me feel like I had just learned how to type yesterday. Can you get used to it? Yeah, probably, but I certainly couldn’t in my few weeks of usage.
With a laptop as light as the LaVie Z, it didn’t seem like battery life was going to be any good on this machine. However, it was pretty solid. I could use it to browse the web for a few hours at a time. A session playing Minecraft with my younger brother could last me around 3 hours of continuous usage. I wouldn’t count on the Lenovo LaVie Z to last you an entire day of heavy use, but if this is a laptop you’re going to use for taking notes in meetings or just around the house, the battery life should be perfectly acceptable.
The display on the LaVie Z is very, very good. With a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution, it’s extremely crisp, but that’s only improved by the solid brightness levels and the good viewing angles. It’s hard to be disappointed by this display. One note that’s worth mentioning however is that the 360 model has a glossy display on it as compared to the matte coating on the standard LaVie Z.
As far as sound quality is concerned on the LaVie Z, it’s pretty decent. The speakers are located on the bottom which is a bit of a disappointment, but the quality is fairly good all things considered.
Overall, the Lenovo LaVie Z series has a lot going for it, but those good things are nearly ruined by the amount of annoyances on both units. The keyboard is easily the most notable, at least for me. Probably another are to work on is the price point. With a price starting at $1,399 for the base model, you certainly aren’t paying for a cheap laptop. However looking over some of the minor issues, this is a laptop worth it’s price if it fits your needs.
Andrew Romero of iTechTriad contributed to this review.