Lenovo

Lenovo LaVie Z Review

 

Lenovo LaVie Z

We always try to review the market’s newest. But sometime we have to make exceptions. And the Lenovo LaVie Z review is surely one of them. It’s not that new and is in the market for a while, but considering the specs, I just couldn’t resist reviewing this beauty! After all, LaVie Z is the lightest laptop in the world.

The LaVie Z is one of the first laptop that was co-built by NEC and Lenovo. As I see, they did an amazing job. It came with an Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of LPDDR3 memory, a standard Intel HD Graphics and a 256 GB SSD, these powerful combination can be rarely seen in such lightweight and slim systems. Moreover, it has a stunning display with touchscreen feature. So, if you are a fan of ultra light laptops and, the $1300 price tag is not a problem to you, LaVie Z surely is the perfect choice for you.

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Pros

Extremely lightweight

Strong performance

Elegant Design

High screen resolution

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Cons

Fragile build

Poor keyboard

Short battery life

Mediocre audio quality

Washed out display color

Relatively expensive

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Specifications

Brand: Lenovo

Model: LaVie Z

Processor: Intel Core i7 5500U

Chipset: Intel Broadwell

Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500

Memory: 8 GB

Storage: 256 GB SSD

Optical Drive: none

Display Type:  LED display with touchscreen

Screen Size: 13.3 inch

Screen Resolution:  2560 x 1440

Audio: Stereo Speakers

Keyboard: Island style keyboard

Navigation:  3.4 x 2.4 inches touchpad

Camera: 720p HD Webcam

Video Ports: HDMI

Audio Ports: Combo headphone jack

Total USB Ports: 2

USB 2.0 Ports: 0

USB 3.0 Ports: 2

Media Ports: SDXC

Wi-Fi: Intel Wireless 7265 (2×2) AC

Bluetooth: 4.0

Ethernet: none

Battery: 29.6 Wh

Battery Life: 7 hours

Width: 12.6 inches

Depth: 8.4 inches

Height: 0.7 inches

Weight: 1.8 pounds / 0.8 kg

Operating System: Windows 8.1 with Bing

Warranty: 1 Year Limited

Base Price: $1299

Price of the Reviewed Model: $1499

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Build and Design

Lenovo and NEC have pulled out every trick they know to reduce the size and weight of this laptop. Mostly the magnesium-lithium alloy frame did the trick; the whole laptop weighs just 0.82 Kg (1.85 pounds) because of this ultra light chassis. That’s barely heavier than the first-generation iPads.

Lenovo LaVie Z lid

While it’s the lightest 13-inch laptop of the world, LaVie Z is far from the smallest. But it’s not bad though. The 12.6 x 8.4 x 0.7-inch chassis is capable of fitting in nearly any bag and can be comfortably held with one hand if need be.

Lenovo LaVie Z bottom

As for looks, just like any other Lenovo laptop, the exterior of the LaVie Z is nothing remarkable to look at and is not really eye catching. Just like the usual, corners of the LaVie Z are deliberate with sharp angles and “Lenovo” gray lettering sits at the top left-side of the display hinge and the deck provides more of the same. If you were expecting a stunning design, you might be disappointed with this minimalist design, but it’s clean and precise.

Keyboard

Now if you open the lid you’ll come across the biggest downside to the laptop: the keyboard. As I mentioned earlier, the LaVie series is actually built by a partnership between Lenovo and Japanese-manufacturer NEC. As such, the keyboard actually uses a Japanese-style layout with English characters substituted in. If you’re used to a traditional English keyboard, you’ll have to bear with misplaced and mis-sized keys that take some time getting used to. To specify the problems, the Space Bar, Left Tab, Caps Lock, and Back Space key are laughably small, whereas the Enter key is inordinately huge by comparison. The Right Shift keys are totally undersized and misplaced. On the other hand, with 1.4mm key travel and 45 gram actuation technical specs of the keys are somewhat good.

Lenovo LaVie Z keyboard

Touchpad

On the other hand the medium sized touchpad is great and precise enough to get your work done. Navigating Web Pages, and documents was smooth and effortless. And I was able to perform all windows 8.1 gestures without any problem. However, the pad is made of coarse plastic instead of the Lenovo’s usual soft rubber surface. That being said, the coarse surface isn’t necessarily bad, but it doesn’t offer the same travel and sensitivity that most Lenovo touchpads provide.  So, if your previous laptop was Lenovo too, it will take some time to get used to with the new one.

Lenovo LaVie Z touchpad

Connectivity

Though LaVie Z doesn’t not offer rich connectivity feature, considering the dimensions and the weight, connectivity is quite adaptable.

Lenovo LaVie Z ports right

Almost all the ports are on the right side of the laptop. To elaborate, there is a pair of USB 3.0 ports with a full HDMI port, an SDXC slot, and a headset jack.

Lenovo LaVie Z ports left

While the left side has only the silver power button, a Kensington lock and Lenovo’s unique power jack.

Display

The Lenovo LaVie Z sports a 13.3 inch QHD (2560 x 1440) display. For an Ultrabook, the size of the screen and resolution is perfect. The color contrast and viewing angle of the screen is also decent. However, as expected from an anti-glare panel, it was unable to show several vibrant colors.

Lenovo LaVie Z screen

Nevertheless, the screen can reproduce 106 percent of the sRGB color gamut, better than the 79 percent average and enough to hold off the competing notebooks. But for a laptop this expensive, it’s not really that good. Also, the display is dimmer than expected with a brightness of 213 nits, which is well below the 277 category average.

Lenovo LaVie Z RGB

Overall, the display of the LaVie Z is not really something to be proud of.

Audio

The LaVie’s speakers are located on the bottom of the chassis. With the speakers situated at the bottom of the device, the sound can become muffled, especially if you’re using the device as a laptop. However, even when sound is freely flowing from the speakers, the amplification was unnoticeable. The speakers are so quiet that it was often hard to make out the lyrics when watching music videos on YouTube. So, if you are a music lover, along with the laptop, you will have to get a headphone too.

Performance

The LaVie is equipped with a powerful spec combination, including a fifth-generation 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500U, with 8GB or RAM, Intel HD graphics 5500 and a 256GB SSD. So, there’s like no way the performance of this laptop can be bad.

Lenovo LaVie Z performance

According to Intel, the 5th Gen i7 CPUs offer improvements in processing and gaming performance as well as in security and battery life. And as I tested, they were not totally wrong. With 8 GB of DDR3 RAM and SSD storage, the 5th Gen i7 processor the laptop had no issues executing multiple apps at the same time. I was able to run 10 active Chrome tabs along with two HD streams while listening to the music on WMP without any drop in performance. The laptop boots in just a couple of seconds and programs/files load near instantaneously.

Lenovo LaVie Z processor

As for graphics, the performance of the HD 5500 was really surprising. I did not expect that much from an integrated GPU. I was able to play World of Tanks and DOTA2 without any lag, and the FPS was totally playable.

Battery Life

Lenovo claims that the LaVie Z’s battery will last up to seven hours, and they were right about it. I was able to run the laptop for 6 hours and 50 minutes, while I browsed the internet, listened to the music, and even watched a whole movie.

Lenovo LaVie Z inside

Heat and Noise

The ventilation system of the LaVie Z is on the rear left side. So, regardless the position, you will never have to feel the hot air output. Also the laptop remains cool and quiet, almost all the time. Even under heavy pressure, it will make little humming noise and most likely never gets hot.

Lenovo LaVie Z ventilation

Wrap Up

There’s no denying that the Lenovo LaVie Z is one of the most significant laptop of the year. A laptop of this specification under 1 Kg! Lenovo and NEC have done a really good job.

No matter how you look at the drawbacks, the LaVie Z is surely a tempting offer for anyone that travels frequently with a laptop. Not only are they insanely lightweight, but there’s enough power to handle almost anything you want to do on the go. After all, if you can live with the Japanese style keyboard and mediocre screen, the LaVie Z is the system for you.

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