The Bottom Line
Sep 2012 - Lenovo's IdeaPad Z380 is a surprisingly affordable 13-inch laptop offering in a dwindling number of traditional laptops in this segment. It may not have the same level of portability as an ultrabook but it does offer faster processing at the expense of slower storage. For those wanting a DVD drive built into the laptop, it is certainly one of the last options available at this size range. As with all Lenovo laptops, the keyboard is one of the best available and the switch to USB 3.0 ports is welcome but it would have been nice to also have the eSATA port found in past versions. About the only other thing it really could use is some dedicated graphics to really set it apart from the thinner and lighter ultrabook options.
- Very Affordable
- Excellent Keyboard
- DVD Burner For Those That Need It
- Larger and Heavier Than Most 13-inch Laptops
- Design Really Needs Updating
- Really Needs Dedicated Graphics To Distinquish Itself From
- Intel Core i5-3210M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 13.3" WXGA (1330x768) Display With 1.0 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, One USB 2.0, VGA, HDMI, 4-in-1 Card Reader
- 12.9" x 8.7" x 1.2" @ 4.6 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter, McAfee AntiVirus
Review - Lenovo IdeaPad Z380
Sep 2012 - Lenovo's IdeaPad Z380 is essentially an updated version of their previous IdeaPad Z300 series laptops. For the most part, the exterior remains mostly unchanged other than some tweaks to the color options. No longer is the black exterior with white deck as it has switched to being a dark gray all around now. The only other major change is the removal of the eSATA port in favor of two USB 3.0 ports. It would have been nice to see it keep this port in addition to the eSATA instea of mixing two of the USB 3.0 ports with a single USB 2.0.
The big update to the IdeaPad Z380 is the move from the Sandy Bridge based Intel processors to the new Ivy Bridge. In the case of this modestly priced version, it uses the Intel Core i5-3210M dual core processor. The processor is paid up with 8GB of DDR3 memory. In terms of performance, it isn't that much faster than the past model but the extra memory does give it a distinct advantage over ultrabook system when it comes to more demanding programs or mulitasking. The faster clock speeds of the standard laptop voltage processor also is more beneficial for things like desktop video but it still falls short of what more expensive quad core processors can achieve. Still, it is more than enough for the average consumer.
While the ultrabook trend has pretty much helped hasten the demise of the optical drive in the portable computer market, the Lenovo IdeaPad Z380 still retains a dual layer DVD burner which allows it to playback or record CD and DVD media. This may be useful for some who still need to install software from physical media or watch a DVD while traveling but this is a big reason for the larger overall size and weight of the laptop. In terms of storage space, it comes with a standard 500GB hard drive that spins at the typical 5400rpm spin rate. This is one area where the ultrabooks certainly offer more than this laptop. Boot times are near a full minute which is well more than even the ultrabooks that now feature hybrid storage options that allow them to have the same amount of storage space. if you do need more space, there are two USB 3.0 ports as previously mentioned.
The display and graphics for the IdeaPad Z380 remain pretty much unchanged. The 13.3-inch display offers a typical level of performance and standard 1366x768 resolution. Viewing angles are decent but not great but that is pretty much standard for laptops in this price range. The graphics have improved somewhat thanks to the new Intel HD Graphics 4000 that is built into the processor. This offers improved 3D performance but is still limited in terms of gaming to older games at lower resolution and details levels. If you do need more, Lenovo will offer some models of the IdeaPad Z380 with the NVIDIA GeForce GT610M graphics but the gains are not much. The ability to accelerate media transcoding has improved with Quick Sync compatible applications even over the previous HD Graphics 3000.
As with past IdeaPad Z series laptops, there is a six cell 48WHr capacity battery pack. With the more powerful internal components in it, the battery life is certainly going to be less than that of ultrabooks. In digital video playback tests, the system was able to run just under four hours before going into standby mode. This is particularly good and is roughly on par with a number of ultrabooks with the same size battery pack and relying on hybrid hard drives for capacity. It still falls short of the class leading Apple MacBook Pro 13 that offers up to six hours in the same test but of course costs a lot more.