HANDS-ON: NEC LaVie Z ultrabook is the lightest in the world

Gerald Lynch Computers, Laptops / Notebooks, Previews, Tech Digest news, Ultrabook Leave a Comment

lavie-z-1.jpgHow light do you think the world’s lightest ultrabook could be? 2KG? 1.5KG? How about just 875grams. That’s what you get if you pick up the NEC LaVie Z ultrabook, the lightest in the world, shedding the pounds without shedding top-tier specs. Though it’s not available from UK retailers, it can be shipped in from Japan, and we were lucky enough to go hands on today at Intel’s ultrabook Christmas showcase.

Lift up the NEC LaVie Z and it’s almost hard to believe that there are the components of a working laptop tucked away somewhere inside. Thin (but not staggeringly so) at 14.9mm, what’s incredible is the weight. It’s no exaggeration that, with some careful balancing skills, you could comfortably hold the LaVie Z with a single finger. It’s that lightweight.lavie-z-2.jpgCosting around £1179 (not including shipping costs), it features a 13.3-inch LCD display with glossy finish, hitting resolutions as high as 1600×900. It’s a little reflective, and brightness levels could be a bit higher, but it’s sharp with good colour reproduction.lavie-z-3.jpgUnder the hood of the model we tested was an Ivy Bridge generation Intel Core i5 @ 1.7GHz (Turbo boost up to 2.6GHz, and there are also i7 build available too, which is insane in an ultrabook this svelte), backed by 4GB of DDR3 RAM. This was more than enough to comfortably check out a few tabs worth of HD video, though with Windows 7 rather than Windows 8 onboard, we weren’t able to try out how well it handles Microsoft’s latest offering.

At 13.3-inches, there’s enough room for a decent sized touchpad that responded well to our swipes and clicks, favouring an Apple-style single button for all touchpad input (left side represents the left mouse button, right mouse button on the right side). The keyboard, which was a Japanese/English International hybrid was a bit cramped, and the Japanese characters in place of some UK keyboard stalwarts was jarring, but nothing we’re sure that a little more extended time with the LaVie 7 couldn’t be acclimatised to.lavie-z-4.jpgPort options were generous too, with a USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 port, a multi-card reader and even a full size HDMI port on show.

Boasting an 8 hour battery life, the LaVie Z is an incredible bit of engineering. Though it’s magnesium alloy finish lacks the premium feel of, say, a MacBook Air, it’s remarkably light, almost unbelievably so. Though it might be a bit of a pain to get one in the UK at the moment, anyone who regularly carries their laptops with them will be thanked by their backs and shoulders for any effort put in to track one down.

By Gerald Lynch | October 30th, 2012