In contrast, Apple manages to take the limited space for its 12-inchkeyboard and find hidden advantages to take the edge off of the tradeoffs, making each key face wider and more stable, despite being even shallower than the keyboard here.
While the keyboard is a bust, the basic clickpad-style touchpad below the keyboard works surprisingly well, even when using multitouch gestures such as the two-finger scroll for navigating long Web pages.
There has been a trend in premium laptops over the past two years to shoot past the standard 1,920x1,080 resolution, in some cases all the way up to 4K, although that extreme is usually of dubious usefulness for a small laptop screen. In this case, the LaVie Z 360 sits at a happy medium, with a 2,560x1,440 native resolution (the non-hybrid version has the same resolution).
The display in this model has a glossy finish, with edge-to-edge glass over the front face of the lid. Off-axis viewing is decent, and this hybrid version of the screen brings back a bit of the punch and deep color missing from the matte display in the non-hybrid LaVie Z, although in general we still prefer matte screens. Touch response was very good, and makes navigating Windows 8 much easier.
Ports & connections
|Audio||Combo headphone/microphone jack|
|Data||2 USB 3.0, SD card reader|
|Networking||802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
Connections, performance and battery
After the single USB-C port in the 12-inch MacBook , one might think overly connected laptops were a thing of the past, especially for the thinnest and lightest models. Fortunately, Lenovo shows us this doesn't need to be the case. Both the LaVie Z and LaVie Z 360 make room for two USB 3.0 ports, a full-size HDMI port and an SD card slot, which should be enough for most users.
Bumping up to an Intel ULV Core i7 processor, both LaVie Z systems performed well in our standard benchmark tests, and felt fast and responsive in everyday use. Offering similar performance was the latest generation of Toshiba's Kirabook premium 13-inch laptop, which uses the same processor. Apple's 12-inch MacBook, with a, fell well behind, as did a premium Windows laptop with a current-gen Core i5 CPU. Note, however, that the recently updated 13-inch MacBook Air, also with a current-gen Core i5 processor, was surprisingly a bit faster in our multitasking test, thanks in part to its operating system advantages in some of our testing apps, not to mention its lower-resolution display.
Battery life was decent, considering the high-power i7 processor, but if this was a standard 13-inch Core i5 laptop, we'd expect more. The non-hybrid LaVie Z ran for 7:51 on our video-playback battery-drain test, while the LaVie Z 360 hybrid ran for 7:40 on the same test. The 12-inch MacBook ran longer, at around 12 hours, as did the high-end 13-inch Toshiba Kirabook, at 8:50. If you were performing more intensive tasks, such as continuously streaming HD video over the Internet, you could expect about five-and-a-half hours of life, based on our anecdotal tests.
The LaVie Z 360 packs a lot of power into a lightweight package, and this version includes both a touchscreen and hybrid hinge, while adding only a little weight. You could hand either LaVie Z we reviewed to someone and there's a good chance they'd ask if it was a hollow plastic mockup rather than a fully functioning laptop.
But, both this and the non-hybrid version suffer from a plain-looking design and an especially frustrating keyboard, that latter of which hurts real-world usability.
In this price range, I'd steer towards the Core-M-powered 12-inch MacBook or the similarfor casual websurfing and simple tasks, while also giving the LaVie Z series a serious look for heavier workloads, thanks to its more powerful processor. But, unless the touch screen is a must-have, I'd also lean towards saving $200 and going with the lighter, less-expensive non-hybrid LaVie Z version, which includes extra bragging rights by slipping in at just under two pounds.
|Lenovo LaVie Z||Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 3,839MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 5500; 256GB SSD|
|Lenovo LaVie Z 360||Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 3,839MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 5500; 256GB SSD|
|Apple MacBook (12-inch, 2015)||Yosemite OSX 10.10.2; 1.1GHz Intel Core M-5Y31; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1,536MB Intel HD Graphics 5300; 256GB SSD|
|Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2015)||Yosimite OSX 10.10.2; 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-5250U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 1,536MB Intel HD Graphis 6000; 128GB SSD|
|Toshiba KiraBook (2015)||Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 3,839MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 5500; 256GB SSD|
|Dell XPS 13 (2015)||Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 2.2GHZ Intel Core i5-5200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 3,839MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 5500; 256GB SSD|