Lenovo LaVie Z 360 review

The 'world's lightest laptop,' but at what cost?

Lenovo LaVie Z 360 review

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

While the Lenovo LaVie Z 360 might be light in terms of poundage, it's undoubtedly heavy on performance. Thanks to a high-end Intel Core i7 processor beating at the heart of this machine, you can easily multitask across a dozen tabs in a web browser with plenty of office applications crunching worksheets at the same time. Lightroom users in particular will love the speed at which the Z 360 can open and process files, though again, a lackluster display hampers this experience.


Here's how the Lenovo LaVie Z 360 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

  • 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 5,140; Sky Diver: 2,661; Fire Strike: 723
  • Cinebench CPU: 285 points; Graphics: 23 fps,
  • PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,379 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 11 minutes

Lenovo LaVie Z 360 review

Benchmark numbers put the Lenovo LaVie Z 360 at the top of the heap, and that's really not so surprising considering its processor is a few steps ahead of the competition. The performance gap is most evident looking at the difference between the Z 360's Cinebench score of 285 compared to the HP Spectre x360's 257 point score. Although the Acer Aspire R13 comes sporting the same exact CPU as Lenovo's convertible, its Cinebench score hovered around a paltry 207 points.

Similarly, the Z 360 is a cut above its competitors on the graphics front. While the Z 360 completed the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark test with 723 points, the Aspire R13 trails behind with 656 points – while Spectre x360 is in last with 621 points. In short, these scores mean the Z 360 is better suited to play games and handle other visually intensive tasks.

For instance, I was able to play Hearthstone on high settings and full resolution, using the LaVie hybrid as an oversized tablet. No matter how explosive the action got, I never ran into any instances of slowdown or stuttering.

Lenovo LaVie Z 360 review

Troublesome convertible

While most convertible laptops, like the Spectre x360 and Aspire R13, support multiple modes of usage, the Z 360 is designed only to switch between being a landscape-oriented tablet and PC. This means you pretty much have the option of using the machine as a regular notebook with the keyboard beneath your fingers or turn the screen all the way back and use it as a widescreen tablet.

Or maybe not.

In my time testing the LaVie Z 360, the laptop's accelerometers would sometimes jolt into life, and the screen would rotate depending on the machine's orientation. I contacted Lenovo just to be sure this wasn't a bug, to which a representative noted that the Z 360 "only operates in laptop and tablet modes and is not meant for tent and stand modes."

So, in essence, the LaVie Z 360 not only fails to be as versatile as other 2-in-1 machines, it's only by some malfunction that the screen can auto-rotate like any good hybrid machine should.

Lenovo LaVie Z 360 review

Who designed this?

The only thing worse than the chintzy feel of the LaVie Z 360 is its keyboard. While the mushy keys and little travel are small annoyances, the completely alien layout of the keyboard (not following an American, European or even Japanese layout) is by far the worst design choice. Instead of a full sized backspace key, you'll find a smaller one that's made room for a forward space key.

Clearly, this is not Lenovo's signature AccuType keyboard. Rather, this is NEC's design.

Other instrumental commands, like the insert and delete keys, meanwhile, have been jammed tightly into the bottom row, taking up precious space typically reserved for the space bar. All together, these little quirks add up to a terrible typing experience that you can get used to, but not without having to look down to locate the delete key every time.

Lenovo LaVie Z 360 review

Short fuse

After our usual PCMark 8 synthetic battery test spat out a battery life of 3 hours and 11 minutes, I wasn't very confident I could get even a half day of use out of the Z 360. Lenovo claims its 2-in-1 can last up to 9 hours, but no matter how few programs I ran, I only got a maximum 5 hours and 51 minutes of usage out of the laptop. It's an unimpressive total, considering I ran the laptop at half brightness with only a few Firefox tabs, writing a document in Microsoft Word and chatting with co-workers on Hipchat.

Running down the laptop a second time using some more intensive programs, such as Lightroom, further hampered the battery life to an even more disappointing 3 hours and 52 minutes.

With the Aspire R13, you can expect to get much better numbers, with seven hours of continuous usage, based on our tests. The Spectre x360 can also easily outlast the LaVie Z 360, with battery life ranging from six hours (or nine according to HP).

Lenovo's hybrid laptop might be the lightest in the world, but it's clear this machine has lost a significant portion of its battery to make that happen.

Bundled software

The Z 360 comes with a surprisingly light offering of preloaded applications despite Lenovo's expansive business suite. Lenovo Reach and QuickControl are among the curious omissions, but Share It still comes pre-installed, offering users an alternative to Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive. More importantly, you'll want to launch System Update along with downloading all the appropriate patches for Windows 8.1 once it's out of the box.

Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.