- Editor's Rating
- Strong performance
- Comfortable keyboard
- Boisterous speakers
- Limited battery life
- Shallow viewing angles
The Lenovo Z51 offers a strong combination of utility and entertainment with impressive specs and array of multimedia features, but the machine fails to find a real identity with the subpar display and weak battery life.
The Lenovo Z51 is a mid-range multimedia focused laptop starting at less than $600. Equipped with a fast 2.2GHz fifth generation Intel Core CPU, the Z51 doesn’t make any of the performance conceits expected from a budget entertainment laptop. Add in the robust JBL speakers and you have an enticing mix of performance and entertainment. However, the Z51 is far from perfect. Its muted display, limited viewing angles and poor battery life mar an otherwise promising package.
Does the Lenovo Z51 deliver enough to make it up for its notable weak points? Read the full review to find out.
Build and Design
The Lenovo Z51 sports sleek plastic display lid (available in both black and white) outlined by a thin silver metallic bezel. NBR’s review unit was outfitted with the black plastic design, which contrasts nicely against the silver of the bezel. The lid is rounded at the corners and slightly tilts down towards the bezel along the edges, further emphasising the device’s curved design. The plastic surface houses “lenovo” lettering along the top-left corner of the lid. The one notable downside to the plastic finish is that it tends to be a fingerprint magnet. Even after only using the device for few minutes, unsightly streaks can be seen on the protective display case.
The display is outlined is a silver plastic frame, while the deck sports a matching brushed aluminum finish. The metallic finish offers a vertical stration design and is cool to the touch, offering a comfortable wrist rest while typing. The rest of the chassis is constructed of black hard plastic design. The thick durable plastic is slightly braised, making it easy to grip when transporting the device.
Measuring 15.6 x 10.43 x 0.97 -inches and weighing 5.07 pounds, the Lenovo Z51 offers decent enough portability. Like most mid-range multimedia devices the Z51 won’t match up with most Ultrabooks, the thicker frame does not make it nearly as conducive to travel. However at 0.97-inches thick the device will still easily fit in most carrying cases.
The only thing that has us worried is the the durability of the display lid. The plastic frame has considerable give and noticeable rippling appeared on screen when applying pressure to the back of the lid. The display hinge also has a bit of give as well. Our review team also found there was slight give at the center of the laptop’s keyboard (near the “h” and “j” keys specifically). The rest of the device, specifically the bottom portion of the chassis proved incredibly durable, holding up well under pressure.
The Lenovo Z51 offers excellent connectivity for a mid-range media focused device, complete with two different types of video out ports and an optical drive. The left side features a VGA connector, an Ethernet connector, an HDMI connector and two USB 3.0 ports. While the right side of the device houses a security lock slot, an optical drive, an SD card reader, a USB 2.0 port and a combo audio jack (headphones/microphone/headset).
Display and Speakers
The Lenovo Z51 features a 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) anti-glare matte display. The matte TN panel seems like a strange choice for a multimedia-focused device. Matte panels do help with visibility — which is why they’re often used on business-oriented devices — but colors often don’t appear as vibrant as they do on glossy TN panels. That certainly seems to the be the case with the Z51. While color reproduction and accuracy was decent, the NotebookReview team couldn’t help but feel that the bright fiery animations in Hearthstone looked muted on the Z51’s display.
Even more problematic is the display’s shallow viewing angles. As with most budget TN display panels, the viewing experience changes dramatically as you move roughly 45 degrees off center; a noticeable sheen appears on screen and colors appear washed out or inverted.
While the Z51’s visuals left us wanting, the audio thoroughly impressed. Equipped with JBL speakers the Z51 is quite boisterous, with sound levels that can easily fill a modest sized room. The Z51 matches that impressive amplification with crisp audio quality. The editors at NotebookReview were impressed by the Z51’s ability to accurately depict an orchestral track without any noticeable distortion.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Z51 houses a full sized Chiclet-style keyboard complete with number pad. The laptop makes full use of its 15.6-inch frame, offering excellent consistent spacing. The Z51 affords excellent key travel and consistent tactile feedback, making it easy to type quickly and accurately. The only thing that NBR didn’t enjoy about the keyboard was the tendency for the deck to slightly give towards the center (near the “g” and “h” keys). However, this only really becomes an issue when applying heavy pressure to the device and didn’t really arise, under normal typing experiences
Located directly below the spacebar is a moderately sized silver touchpad complete with a silver metallic frame. The pad is made of a coarse plastic that’s texture surface provides decent grip and easy travel. Below the pad is a single large button that contains both right and left mouse-click functions. The pad performed admirably accurately reading multi-finger gestures, swipes and clicks with minimal delay.