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.
High screen resolution
Short battery life
Mediocre audio quality
Washed out display color
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Though LaVie Z doesn’t not offer rich connectivity feature, considering the dimensions and the weight, connectivity is quite adaptable.
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.
While the left side has only the silver power button, a Kensington lock and Lenovo’s unique power jack.
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.
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.
Overall, the display of the LaVie Z is not really something to be proud of.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.