Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 review
Perfect if you like to watch films or play games, but its poor battery life and touchpad prevent the Z580 from achieving true greatness
Review Date: 17 Dec 2012
Price when reviewed: £550
Reviewed By: Katharine Byrne
Lenovo’s Z Series IdeaPad range is designed with affordable entertainment in mind, and the 15in Z580 has several winning features to make it an impressive entertainment laptop.
To start, the laptop’s huge 1TB hard disk gives you caverns of space to store your media collection, whether it’s games, movies, or an absolutely enormous music library, and the DVD writer means you can watch films and burn media to disc to share with relatives. The laptop also comes with two USB3 ports, two USB2 ports and a multi-format card reader, making it incredibly flexible when it comes to connecting up your external storage, and an HDMI port means you can connect it to an external display to play back what’s stored on the hard disk.
The laptop’s Dolby Home Theater sound system is the real highlight, though, as this adds a considerable amount of audible bass to the Z580’s speakers. This is something most laptops completely fail to achieve, and while the speakers aren’t quite as good as headphones or dedicated speakers, the extra detail makes watching films a much more enjoyable experience if you don’t want to plug anything else in.
The laptop has a touch-control strip above the keyboard for volume control and a button to activate the OneKey Theatre mode to optimise the Z580 for viewing films (though as far as we could tell, it simply altered the brightness of the screen and lowered the volume slightly). There’s also the option to control the volume using the Function key, but we much preferred having the touch controls at our disposal, even if they did make a slightly unpleasant rattling sound when we tapped them.
The Lenovo Z580’s keyboard made for comfortable typing, thanks to its wide and evenly-spaced full-sized Chiclet keyboard, with keys that gave us plenty of tactile feedback, helping us type at speed. The laptop’s design isn’t hugely inspiring, with its muddy brown plastic base, but it’s hard not to like the brushed aluminium finish surrounding the rest of the keyboard and speakers.
The laptop’s large all-in-one touchpad, on the other hand, was decidedly less easy to use, and it sometimes failed to register our touch completely. Multi-touch gestures were tricky to execute accurately too, and the buttons at the base of the touchpad were similarly problematic. While the buttons themselves had a nice amount of click to them, they’re touch-sensitive as well as the touchpad, so we found they would move the cursor when we clicked. This made the touchpad much less precise than we would have liked; we’re still not sure why manufacturers insist on fitting all-in-one touchpads to laptops.
The Z580’s 15.6in glossy display also caused quite a few problems with reflections, particularly when we tried viewing darker images and video clips in our brightly lit offices. There's a generous amount of screen tilt to try and remedy this problem, but the display's poor vertical viewing angles contribute to how difficult it is to find a comfortable viewing position.
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