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Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Z360

Last year when we looked at the Lenovo IdeaPad Z360, we found it “a solid all-purpose thin-and-light laptop for the masses.” Graduating from a first-generation Intel Core i3 processor to a second-generation Core i5 processor has certainly given the Z370 a sizeable performance leap over its predecessor. Which is not to say that the Z370 isn’t a worthy budget-minded thin-and-light laptop. Solid performance for $629 still makes the Z370 a great value.

At 1.4 inches thick and weighing 4.4 pounds, the Z370 is neither the slimmest nor lightest 13-inch laptop available, but that we can overlook that a bit, given the included optical drive and low price. The Z370’s rounded, all-plastic chassis shares the Z360’s pleasing good looks but adds more splash to the design’s color palette. We looked at the blue version, which features a neon-blue, transparent-3D design on the laptop’s lid. As we’ve seen with many budget thin-and-light laptops, the Z370’s body exhibits some noticeable flex. There’s also a considerable amount of flex under the right side of the keyboard—most evident beneath the Enter key. Otherwise, the keyboard is comfortable to use, and the rounded, Chiclet-style keys are well spaced.

You won’t find any dedicated multimedia-playback keys, but some touch-sensitive buttons above the keyboard control the volume and launch the Lenovo OneKey Theater and Thermal management utilities. Also located above the keyboard are the power button and the Lenovo OneKey Rescue System button (more on the Lenovo utilities momentarily). Below the keyboard is the Z370’s touch pad, which is responsive, but the single rocker-style mouse button is on the stiff side.

A healthy collection of ports is scattered about the Z370’s body, including VGA and HDMI video out ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a combo eSATA/USB 2.0 port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, mic and headphone jacks, and a five-format media-card reader. In addition to the integrated 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi radio, there’s also an integrated Bluetooth radio—which is not as common on budget laptops. The glossy display can get very bright, emit rich colors, and deliver a crisp-looking image. The 1,366x768 native resolution is standard fare for 13.3-inch screens, as is the display’s 16:9 aspect ratio.

By pressing the OneKey Theater button (located above the keyboard) you can toggle among three audio presets for Normal, Movie, or Intelligent modes. Even though the Webcam on the Z360 has only 1.3 megapixels and the Z370’s Webcam has been upped to 2 megapixels, we still like the Z360’s Webcam better. Gone are the accurate color reproduction and exposure detection of the Z360’s Webcam, and in its place is the Z370’s Webcam with colors and exposures that are more typical of such relatively low-resolution cameras.

Also launched via a button above the keyboard, the OneKey Recovery utility lets you perform system backups and recoveries and create a set of recovery discs.
Also installed on the Z370 are CyberLink Power2Go (for authoring discs with the system’s DVD±RW drive), Lenovo Smile Dock (a customizable application launch bar for the Windows desktop), Lenovo DirectShare (for automatically syncing files between systems), and Lenovo EE Boot Optimizer (which is supposed to help speed up the system’s boot time into Windows). We tried the Boot Optimizer but didn't see a significant improvement in boot time. Thankfully, you won’t find much bloatware installed on the Z370, other than the Lenovo Games Console (which lets you download the trial versions of some games) and a link to the PokeTalk international calling service.

The Z370 is powered by a mid-range 2.3GHz Core i5-2410M (Sandy Bridge) processor and 4GB of memory, operating in concert with a 5,400rpm 500GB hard drive and integrated Intel HD 3000 Graphics. This combination works together to deliver solid overall performance.

For instance, on our PCMark Vantage test (which measures overall system performance), the Z370’s score of 6,272 was more than 200 points higher than the category average of 6,014 for thin-and-light laptops (from January 2010 to present). The Vostro 3350’s 7,200rpm hard drive and AMD Radeon HD 6470M GPU conspire to give the Vostro 3350 a performance leg up on this test. Lenovo IdeaPad Z370 right
On the right side of the Z370 are mic and headphone jacks, the DVD±RW drive, a USB 2.0 port, and jack for the power adapter.

The Z370’s score of 9,692 even managed to pull ahead of the Vostro 3350’s 9,487 by a small margin on our CPU-intensive Cinebench 10 test, which we use to gauge raw processing power. Both of these laptops, however, easily eclipse the Inspiron 14R’s showing of 6,887 and the 7,986 average for thin-and-light laptops.
As far as 3D gaming performance is concerned, the Z370’s score of 4,957 on 3DMark06 (which simulates 3D gaming) at a resolution of 1,024x768 tells us that all hope is not lost. The Z370’s integrated graphics just aren’t made for DirectX 10 gaming. The Vostro 3350 pulled ahead with 17.9fps, while the Inspiron 14R sputtered behind at a completely unplayable 5.2fps.

Battery life is another area where the Z370 puts up better-than-average performance. The Z370 lasted 3 hours and 50 minutes on our DVD Battery-Rundown Test, in which we play a movie until the battery dies. The average for thin-and-light laptops is bit a behind that at 3:40, as is the Inspiron 14R’s time of 3:13. On the other hand, few can compete with the Vostro 3350’s time of 6:00—but this also marks the difference between the Z370’s six-cell battery and the Vostro 3350’s eight-cell battery.

Despite possible bargain-basement pricing, however, the squishy keyboard can easily be a potential deal-killer if you need to do a lot of typing—budding novelists and rabid note-takers be forewarned.
Key Specs

Processor: 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410M
Memory: 4GB RAM
Storage: 500GB hard drive
Optical Drive: DVD±RW
Screen: 13.3 (1,366x768 native resolution)
Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000
Weight: 4.4 pounds
Dimensions (HWD): 0.4x13.0x8.8 inches
Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Source : http://shop.lenovo.com/us/notebooks/ideapad/z-series/z370

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