- Clean design
- Strong performance
- Awkward keyboard layout
- Weak battery life
- Limited display brightness.
The Lenovo LaVie’s lightweight design and strong performance are ultimately marred by the device’s dim display and awkward keyboard layout.
Picking up the the Lenovo LaVie Z, it’s hard to believe that a fifth generation Intel Core i7 lays dormant inside it. The LaVie Z is so incredibly light, that it almost feels like you’re holding a hollowed out chassis, like someone has scooped the innards directly from the device. Truly the LaVie Z is an impressive piece of technological engineering. However, as the novelty of this device’s incredibly slim figure wanes, there are some glaring issues, including an awkward keyboard layout and sub-par battery life.
Did Lenovo have to cut too many corners in order to shave down the LaVie’s weight? Read the full review to find out.
Build and Design
The black magnesium-lithium chassis has a grainy textured feel to it. There isn’t much to catch the eye, corners are deliberate with sharp angles and “Lenovo” grey lettering sits at the top left-side of the display hinge. The deck provides more of the same, with that fantastic coarse grip and black finish. Those that like a bit more elegance from their tech might be disappointed with the LaVie Z’s minimalist design, but it’s clean and precise.
Of course the real focal point of the device is its seemingly impossible weight for something with these dimensions. 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. At 1.8 pounds it is officially the lightest laptop on the market, add in the fact that it contains a fifth-generation Intel Core i7 CPU, and that’s nothing short of amazing. This makes the Lenovo LaVie Z the ideal travel device. Truthfully I didn’t even notice the extra weight carrying the device to and from work in my bag.
One of the nice things about the magnesium-lithium casing is that it still manages to offer a decent level of durability despite the laptop’s slim size. The base of the chassis holds surprisingly firm under pressure with little to no give. The display lid does give to pressure, but there is no noticeable tearing on screen. I wouldn’t take the risk of letting the LaVie Z suffer a direct impact, but the laptop should have no troubles holding up to the wears and tears of travel.
Considering that Lenovo’s focus with the LaVie Z is it’s lightweight design, the laptop actually offers a solid level of connectivity. The left side of the device features a kensington lock slot, the power connector and the power button. The right side of the device houses an HDMI connector, two USB 3.0 ports, an SDXC slot and a audio jack.
Screen and Speakers
The Lenovo LaVie Z features a 13.3-inch QHD (2560 x 1440 resolution) display. Images appear crisp and sharp, making the panel perfect for web surfing and word processing. Color contrast is decent, but the LaVie does not match the more vibrant colors seen from most glossy finished panels. However, that’s probably for the best given that at 219 nits the LaVie Z’s screen brightness is well below most competing laptops.
While the LaVie Z’s anti-glare panel may not offer the riches color contrast, it does afford flexible viewing angles despite the screen’s limited brightness. Images hold up well past 100 degrees without any color loss. Unfortunately the display does not fare as well in direct or heavy light; as reflective glare still appears on screen and colors can appear washed out.
The LaVie’s speakers are located on the bottom of the chassis. With the speakers situated on 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 is miniscule.The speakers are so quiet that it was often hard to make out character lines when watching shows on Netflix. Other than that audio quality was up to par, with no noticeable distortions, but does it really matter if you can barely hear it?
Keyboard and Touchpad
Typically Lenovo is known for it’s quality keyboard design, but the LaVie Z does not live up to that pedigree. The laptop features a Chiclet-style keyboard, but I wouldn’t really call it full-sized. A lot of the keys have been reshaped to fit on the slim machine. Namely the right shift and enter keys reduced in size and moved. I found myself consistently missing both the right shift and enter key and it really broke up my flow when typing.
In addition the awkward layout, the LaVie Z’s inputs feel flat. Key travel is limited, and feedback isn’t all that forceful. While the tactile feedback was far less than NBR would have liked, at least it was consistent. It’s not necessarily the worst keyboard, but compared to other Lenovo premium devices it’s found severely wanting.
Located to the bottom right of the spacebar is a moderately sized touchpad. Devoid of buttons the pad utilizes the bottom portions of the pad in conjunction with multi-finger gestures to act as mousebuttons. The pad is comprised of a more coarse plastic finish than the typical soft-rubber surface found on most Lenovo devices. The coarse surface isn’t necessarily bad, but it doesn’t offer the same travel and sensitivity that most Lenovo touchpads provide.