When you start your search for a high-end laptop, what do you look for first? Weight? Screen Size? Internals? Build Quality? Lenovo is trying to hit the sweet spot on each one of these categories with a price tag to match.
Apple continues to get praise for their light and portable laptops as Windows-based machines sales lag. Is it because we’re moving to a more mobile based communications structure– relying more on phones and tablets– or is it the lack of killer products in the category? Lenovo is banking on the laptop not being dead with the LaVie Z HX750. It’s an ultra-portable windows based laptop that has the internals to run everything.
First we’re going to start out with a quick run down of the essentials of the Lenovo LaVie Z
|Processor||Intel Core i7-5500U Processor( 2.40GHz 1600MHz 4MB)|
|Graphics||Intel® HD Graphic 5500|
|Ports||2 x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI-out, SD card reader, Combo Head phone and 1 x mic|
|Display||13.3″ WQHD (2560 x 1440) LED (touch panel)|
|Dimensions||12.56″ x 0.67″ x 8.35″|
|Weight||Starting at 2.04 lbs|
|Storage||Up to 256GB SSD|
|Audio||YAMAHA AudioEngine™ utility|
My big challenge during this review has been trying to answer one question: Is this computer more than the sum of its parts? I think any manufacturer can throw high-end, current gen internals into a light frame and call it a monster. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good computer.
Let’s start with the display. In a word: Gorgeous. I’ve been pretty against quad-HD displays on phones because I think anything past 1080p on a screen that small comes down to quality, not pixel density. On a laptop, I think it makes a lot more sense.
The screen gets bright and it’s perfect for indoor use but you may have some issues if you’re trying to use this outside. I’ve taken it out on numerous occasions and even on overcast days I’d have a really hard time seeing on this screen, especially so because of the glare you get. It feels a bit like a mirror sometimes. But in the right conditions this thing is beautiful and the pictures and games on your screen are really going to come alive because of it.
The screen does offer touch based features which have pretty much become standard in anything but budget laptops these days. And it does well in laptop mode. The screen is very responsive to touch and even though it picks up a ton of fingerprints, it’s light enough to feel natural using it as a tablet. Big win for Lenovo and the LaVie Z in that category.
Just under the screen is where we come to my biggest problem with this machine: the keyboard. I’d love to know what Lenovo was thinking when they decided on this keyboard. I wish I could go back in time and tell them NO. I get that there’s not a lot of room inside because it’s a thin laptop but there’s almost no travel in the keys at all. They’re extremely mushy and that makes for a less than pleasant typing experience.
Also, the layout, simply sucks. They tried to cram too much into too little space. First off, I don’t need a forward space button. I’d much rather they kept the backspace key full size instead of chopping it in half for a key I’ll never use. And they only made it worse by adding a “delete” key, which is another forward space key in the button row with a bunch of incredibly smushed Alt, Insert and Control keys. If you’re looking for these keys by feel, you’ll be in trouble. I’ve had this computer for almost two months at the time of this writing and I’ve never found a feel for the keyboard. It’s simply bad.
The trackpad is… fine. It’s big enough to get the job, doesn’t give much friction during use, but enough to know that you’re actually moving around and supports multipoint operation. Honestly, it’s nothing out of this world or a horrible abomination like some we’ve seen but you shouldn’t have any problems here. If you’re looking for an oversized trackpad, look elsewhere but if you’re fine with the standard, this won’t get in your way.
Under the keyboard and trackpad we find the internals powering this beast. With a Core i7 2.4 GHz process and 8 gigs of LPDDR3 ram, this thing can handle almost anything you throw at it. I don’t do a ton of gaming but I had no issues pushing games at medium or lower settings. Higher settings on graphics intense games got choppy with a noticeable frame rate drop issue but this isn’t exactly a gaming laptop. Will you be able to play some games while you’re away on a business trip? Sure, but this won’t be replacing your main rig by any means.
I’d definitely call this thing an ultra lightweight laptop. And honestly that comes with tradeoffs. I know at one point Lenovo was marketing this as the lightest laptop in the world and I don’t know if that still applies but I do know it’s much lighter than anything I’ve ever used at any screen size.
To achieve this, they definitely used what feel like some lesser materials. It’s made out of a plastic that scares me. I can flex the screen with almost no pressure at all. I actually extended my review period with Lenovo because I wanted to see how this would hold up over a week long vacation being kept in my TYLT Energi backpack. I definitely didn’t want to hurt the machine but I did want to get a good read on how the LaVie Z would hold up.
And it did okay. I was definitely concerted about something caving in the casing and breaking the machine but that never came to pass. If you’re a person who doesn’t coddle your electronics, I could definitely see some case breakage for some folks. The base is a little more stable than the screen but there’s still plenty of flex with minimal pressure.
Having something this light was great though. In whatever bag I had it in, it added zero bulk and almost no weight. It’s very easy to handle because of how thin it is and it’s weight. I can definitely see someone wanting to use this on the road, as long as you protect it.
The battery life was just okay. Lenovo advertises about 7 hours on the LaVie Z and it I really felt it was a struggle to get there most of the time. I could definitely get it to spit out 5 hours through regular use and sometimes more but keeping the brightness up really seems to hurt the LaVie Z a lot. More than others. Maybe it’s the higher pixel density.
Unfortunately I have to report that the speakers on the LaVie Z are some of the worst I’ve ever used. The speakers are located on the bottom of the case at the front. Fortunately the case slopes upward at this point to let the sound out but the levels are simply too low. There were times I literally had to life the computer up to my head to hear what was being said in a video.
And if you use this thing in any other situation than on a desk, it’s bad, bad, bad. I like to sit on the couch and browse the web with the laptop on top of a pillow and with this design it completely murders any kind of sound coming out. There is no bass at all and the rest of the audio honestly feels a little blown out.
This review has felt like a long list of things I didn’t like about the Lenovo LaVie Z. And while there are things I didn’t like, and they’re stuff I really didn’t like, the positives outweigh the negatives. The screen is simply brilliant and a joy to use. It’s light enough to actually use a tablet. It finally feels like a feature on this laptop rather than something thrown in because everyone else is doing it.
And boy is this thing light. We talked about the downsides of this but it’s hard to express how pleasing using a laptop this light is. I’ve never used the new Macbook from Apple but after using the LaVie Z from Lenovo I can kind of see the appeal of ultra-portable machines, even if they lack ports. Luckily the LaVie Z isn’t gimped like the Macbook and actually has more than one port. Hell it has more than one USB 3.0 port alone.
If you’re looking to spend the money, and this one is expensive, then I think the LaVie Z is a good starting point in your search. There are definitely negatives (price, keyboard, audio) but the positives (screen, weight, ports, weight, tablet functionality, weight) do more than even them out, they go above and beyond and make this a strong contender for your money.