Computers, Hardware, Reviews

Lenovo Ideapad Z580 — A Keyboard And Trackpad Away From Greatness

Lenovo was kind enough to send Techcitement an IdeaPad Z580, a mid-priced and sleek 15.6” wide-screen laptop geared toward the media and social network savvy crowd.  The laptop has unique, and unusual, features that distinguish it from the run-of-the-mill Windows laptop, some of which enhance my experience with the device and others thatalmostenhance my experience with the device. There are several models in the IdeaPad Z series, including 13.3″ and 14″ models that, aside from optional components, only differ in screen size and keyboard layout.

Z580 Specifications.

 

The IdeaPad Z580 comes with these specs:

  • 15.6” LED widescreen display running at 1366×768.
  • Intel i5-3210M 3rd generation CPU running at 2.5 GHz.
  • 6 GB DDR3 RAM.
  • Hitachi 750 GB 5400 RPM 2.5” hard drive.
  • Intel HD 4000 embedded graphics.
  • Bluetooth 4.0.
  • Intel Centrino N-2200 Wifi controller supporting 802.11b/g/n and WiDi Wireless display connection to supporting devices.
  • A 1 MP webcam, one MIC, and one set of headphones.
  • Two USB 3.0 connectors, two USB 2.0 connectors, one VGA connector, one HDMI connector, and a 5-in-1 memory card reader.
  • Buttonless trackpad.

First Impressions

The packaging is minimalist and efficient (you might say sparse), with a quickstart guide, power cord, and little else beyond the machine itself.

My first impression of the laptop is that its sleek and shiny. Opening the lid of the machine is actually too easy because there is no latch to keep it closed, so I suggest a laptop sleeve if you plan on moving around a lot with it. Two things I immediately notice are the full number pad on the right side of keyboard and that the screen is definitely not 14 inches as the promotional materials shown above claimed. A quick review of the Lenovo website confirmed that the Z580 indeed features a larger 15.6″ widescreen display. I notice a similar mistake on the technical specifications for the processor model, but other elements of the documentation seem to be correct. As for the keyboard, it’s both a feat of engineering and an albatross, but I’ll get back to that in a moment.

One other item of interest is that all connectors, including power, are on either the left or right sides. The back is without any connections at all, and the front has only the 5-in-1 memory card reader. Z580′s power button is on the right side.

Here are a few of the other features highlighted by the Lenovo promotional materials:

  • Enhanced Experience 3 – A series of technologies to reduce the boot time and increase the overall responsiveness of Windows 7.
  • Boot Shield – “…maintains fast boot performance even after installing multiple applications”
  • VeriFace biometric face recognition security software
  • OneKey Rescue System – for easy backup and recovery
  • Thermal management with ‘Dedusting Mode’
  • OneKey Theatre II
  • Touch sensitive hotkeys

Software

I’m always interested in  learning about how vendors optimize their systems. Sometimes their claims are gimmicks that add little to no value, but when a company like Lenovo alleges significant improvements to the core operating system I take the claims seriously. Promotional materials for the Z580 are splashed with details about how Lenovo has improved the speed of Windows start and stop functions, as well as overall performance. Looking at Windows 7 Premium Home as installed gives me a good feeling about how serious the company is; it’s a clean install, with only a few included utilities and no junk applications I can find.

The set of Lenovo performance improvements are grouped under the moniker “Enhanced Experience 3.0″, and the marketing materials claim I can go to www.lenovo.com/ee to find out more, but that redirected me to a standard product page.  I found the correct link (adding a 3 to the end of the URL) after a Google search. That corrected URL takes me to pages that describe how, through a variety of improvements to things like when a service starts to how a driver loads/unloads itself into memory, Lenovo engineers greatly improved Windows 7 performance during startup, sleep, and shutdown sequences. In practice, it does seem much improved, including immediate network connectivity (although I wonder if this is a good thing or makes some assumptions about the network), drive access, and keyboard/mouse responsiveness.




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David Whitehead

About David Whitehead

David Whitehead is a technology and unicorn enthusiast living in New Jersey, where he runs his own tech business while waiting for the return of the many angled ones. Pity David, for he did not take the time to write his own bio, leaving it in the hands of an editor. [David did put one in, but the Interwebs saw fit to dispose of it. I like this one better anyhow - DW]

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1026503786 Nikolay Dimitrov

    Hey..could you confirm an issue I have with this laptop? My harddrive is hot…is yours? I understand why it is (no vent for the hdd) but maybe my one is faulty and if others arent having these problems then maybe I can get it fixed/replaced

    • David

      I’ve not noticed any heat issues. Are you sure it’s the HDD?

  • http://twitter.com/GizmoFinder GizmoFinder

    I have an IdeaPad Z480. My thoughts on the laptop are these.

    Connectivity is bad. My signal is always half of what it is on my other laptops which are an HP and a MPB. I’m only a room away from the wireless router.

    The trackpad is too sensitive. On occasion while typing the cursor will jump b/c the palm/thumbs will hover too close.

    The trackpad feels cheap. Press down on the pad and you can feel it go down flimsily. Guide your fingers along the edge of the trackpad while it’s pushed down and it feels like you could almost cut yourself on it. Crumbs could fall through the sides of the trackpad when it’s pressed in.

    I had some issues doing a Windows update on my machine. Not sure why. It was so frustrating b/c the configuration of the updates would always fail. And this was on a clean system. Kept restoring to factory settings and was puzzled. Finally got it to work when I installed all the updates in small batches of 2 or 3. Don’t know if this was something to do with Lenovo or Microsoft, but I don’t think this had anything to do with Microsoft b/c probably countless of computers do updates everyday.

  • Ian Gourlay

    Agree 100% re the keyboard layout, but I’d have been more forthright about it! Ergonomics seem to have been left outside the design parameters considered here. Cursor keys need a stick-on button to let my fingers easily find them. I found a button that’s just low enough not to touch the screen when closed.
    The trackpad is far too sensitive, and the lack of tactile-identifiable buttons is just stupid. Following a thoroughly stupid fashion trend, as far as I can tell. Otherwise also agree on the machine’s capability.
    Never would have bought this if it’d been possible to hands-on buy it from an actual shop rather than Amazon, won’t ever repeat this dumbass error.
    Nice review.

  • http://www.facebook.com/murray.snudge Murray Snudge

    I also have the previous model Z570 and the trackpad is a pleasure to use but my new Z580 has already developed a fault with the right click. I will never buy another laptop without separate trackpad buttons and regret buying this one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MChavoos Muhammed Chavoos

    Good review – Agree about the slight problem with finding keys on the right side of the keyboard but I’ve had it for a week now and I’ve grown into it. Definately don’t agree however with the trackpad – All those who are having problems, download the drivers from synaptics and customize your sensitivities and learn how to use the gestures. I cannot stress the importance of this – it really makes your life so so much easier I actually even prefer it to my normal mouse. It’s not an “intelligent trackpad” for nothing – I don’t even use the trackpad’s buttons any longer. The 1 finger/2 finger taps for right and left click work flawlessly with the synaptics downloadable drivers. Just update and learn :) You won’t regret it