The Bottom Line
Apr 5 2013 - Lenovo's IdeaPad Z400 Touch is a surprising affordable touchscreen based laptop that offers a relatively light and thin design that is only slightly larger than many ultrabooks. It offers a good overall running time while offering a full set of laptop features including an optical drive. The biggest problem with the system is its mediocre display. While the touchscreen is nice for Windows 8 the narrow viewing angles and color definitely put it in a more budget oriented category. Those needing lots of storage shouldn't worry either as it offers a full terabyte drive.
- Large Hard Drive
- Thin and Light But Includes DVD Drive
- Display Panel Could Be Better
- Integrated Graphics Hold It Back
- Intel Core i5-3230M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 6GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 1TB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- Dual Layer DVD+/-RW Burner
- 14" WXGA (1366x768) Multitouch Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- One USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, Card Reader
- 13.6" x 9.6" x 1" @ 4.4 lbs.
- Windows 8
Review - Lenovo IdeaPad Z400
Apr 5 2013 - Lenovo's Z series of laptops are designed to be thinner and lighter than their Y series models but still offer a full range of features. The IdeaPad Z400 Touch weighs in at under four and a half pounds in weight and just over an inch in thickness. This makes it just a bit bulkier than most of your 14-inch ultrabooks but this does come equipped with an optical drive that most are starting to drop. It features their standard two toned color scheme with a darker exterior with a silver color interior and side bezel.
Powering the Lenovo IdeaPad Z400 is an Intel Core i5-3230M dual core processor. Unlike many companies that have moved to the lower voltage processors typical of ultrabooks, Lenovo has opted instead for the higher performance of the standard laptop version. Performance is good and will be more than enough for the average user with web browsing, media watching and productivity software. The processor is matched up with typically 6 to 8GB of DDR3 memory that provides a smooth overall experience with Windows 8 and multitasking.
One area when Lenovo is distinguishing itself from the competition has been with the storage. The IdeaPad Z400 comes with a very large one terabyte hard drive. This provides it with more storage space than the common 750GB drive found in most competing systems and even smaller 500GB on many ultrabook style systems. The one downside here is that the drive spins at a relatively modest 5400rpm spin rate and has no form of solid state caching that is found in some other Lenovo models. The result is boot times that can take almost half a minute. If you do need additional storage space, there is a single USB 3.0 port that is found on the left hand side of the system for use with high speed external storage. Even with its thin profile, there is still a dual layer DVD burner for playback and recording of CD or DVD media.
The IdeaPad Z400 Touch is all about the display with Windows 8. It features a 14-inch multitouch display panel that makes it much easier to navigate the Windows 8 native users interface. The downside is that if you are using legacy desktop applications, it can sometimes be difficult to use the touchscreen over the trackpad. On the whole the touch features work well but the display itself could use some work. It features a relatively low 1366x768 native resolution which is common of low cost systems but it has very limited viewing angles and brightness. Frankly, those wanting a better display would rather look at the Yoga 13 with its 13-inch panel that is far better. The graphics are driven by the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that are built into the Core i5 processor. This is fine for most tasks but will struggle for those looking to use it for PC gaming as it really can only work at the lowest resolution and detail levels. It does provide a good boost for video encoding when using Quick Sync enabled applications.
Lenovo uses their standard isolated keyboard design that is found on most of their IdeaPad laptops and offers a nice and accurate feel. There is a backlight behind the keyboard which is off by default. It would have been nice if they used a slightly larger design that used a bit more of the deck as there is a lot of space on the right and left of the keyboard. The one real disappointment is the smaller keys on the right hand side. The trackpad is of a decent size and features integrated buttons. The multitouch gestures worked well within Windows 8 even though most people will likely use the touchscreen instead.
The battery for the IdeaPad Z400 is an internalized battery which Lenovo does not give the capacity rating on. Instead we get documents from Lenovo that claim between three and six hours of running time. In my digital video playback tests, the system was able to run for four and a half hours before going into standby mode. Overall, this is a nice amount of time given the fact that the Z4000 has a touchscreen display and uses standard voltage internal components. It isn't quite as high as Apple's MacBook Pro 15with Retina with its seven hours but this is a far more affordable system that is still very thin and light.
List pricing for the IdeaPad Z400 as tested is roughly $899 but incentives from Lenovo generally put the price around $700. This makes for a relatively affordable touchscreen system. In terms of size and pricing there are a number of competitors most of which are ultrabook based and without touchscreens. The ASUS VivoBook S400 is a bit lighter and has a touchscreen but uses a lower power processor, has less storage, no optical drive and half the storage. Dell's Inspiron 14z can be found for roughly the same price but is an ultrabook so has less storage and performance with better battery life but SSD caching for improved storage speeds. The HP Envy Ultrabook 4 is a bit more expensive and once again offers less storage space and CPU performance but faster storage. Finally, the Toshiba Satellite U945 is also an ultrabook that can be found for around $700 with a thinner profile due to no optical drive.