Lenovo's Z Series laptops are designed for ‘mainstream entertainment'. Translated from Marketingese into English, that means ‘a bit heavy but provides good performance at a decent price'. See all mid-range laptop reviews.
The Z500 Touch is certainly no ultrabook. Our review unit measured 30mm thick when folded flat and weighed in at a hefty 2.7kg. That's heavy even for a laptop such as this with a 15.6in display and built-in DVD drive. Take a look at Group test: what's the best laptop for under £1,000?
Its battery life is not great as a travelling companion, giving us just 4 hours of streaming video and when using the economy integrated graphics. But the size and weight of the Z500 Touch mean that it will probably spend most of its time sitting on a desk at home or in the office.
It's quite neatly designed, with a matt-black finish on the outside and gun-metal grey for the keyboard panel and around the edges of the screen. The moulded keys of Lenovo's ‘accutype' keyboard have a nice, smooth action and the trackpad is large and comfortable. It even has a full-size set of cursor keys, which is something of a rarity these days.
Prices for the Z500 Touch range start at around £560 for a model with an Intel Core i3 processor running at 2.5GHz.
We tested the top-of-the-range model, which comes in at around £800 with a quad-core Core i7 running at 2.4GHz, 8GB memory, 1TB hard drive and an nVidia GeForce GT 740M with 2GB VRAM. That graphics processor is in addition to the Intel HD Graphics 4000 integrated GPU. That's quite a good specification for the price – especially as it includes a touch-sensitive screen – although there are some cost-cutting compromises here and there.
The most obvious of these is the low resolution of the 15.6-inch screen, at only 1366 x 768 pixels. You might reasonably expect a machine designed for entertainment to provide 1920 x 1080 resolution for HD video, but Lenovo seems to have opted for a lower resolution display in order to include touch-sensitivity at a more approachable price. If you don't need a touchscreen then look for one of the basic Z500 models, which tend to be about £50 cheaper than their touchy counterparts.
But, to be fair, the display on the Z500 Touch is quite adequate for most routine tasks. It's bright and clear, and provides good enough image quality for browsing the web, or watching video. Our main complaint here is the glossy finish of the screen which is annoyingly reflective, especially when viewing from an angle.
The other compromise is the use of a slow hard drive, which results in a below-par score of just 3011 points when running the PC Mark 7 benchmark.
It hit the Windows 8 Start screen from boot in about 12 seconds – but then treated us to another 30 seconds of cursor-spinning while it worked up to cruising speed. Once there, the Z500 Touch felt snappy and responsive, and it should be capable of handling heavier duty work such as photo- or video-editing.
This model could also enjoy some gaming action too, mustering a just-playable 26fps when running Batman: Arkham City at 1366 x 768 resolution with DirectX 11 and High graphics settings.
We stepped down to 1280 x 720 to nudge past 30fps, which should be adequate for casual gaming.