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Lenovo IdeaPad Z400 Touch: A 15.6-inch budget laptop that's strong on performance and can survive some rugged handling

Michael Brown | Aug. 30, 2013
The Lenovo IdeaPad Z400 Touch may be a bit heavy on weight and light on battery life, but it manages to provide solid performance and can handle a little rough handling.

The Lenovo placed third in the PCMark 7 Productivity, despite having a 7200-rpm hard drive (both the Acer Aspire E1-572-6870 and the Toshiba Satellite L55Dt-A5253 were much faster). But the IdeaPad captured first place on our media editing and encoding tests. It finished in the middle of the pack on our gaming tests, delivering a leisurely frame rate on BioShock Infinite of 18.4 frames per second, even with resolution set to just 1024 by 768 and visual quality set to Low.

Connectivity and conclusion
The IdeaPad Z400's networking capabilities are a bit disappointing. Though Lenovo selected a high-quality Wi-Fi adapter—Intel's Centrino Wireless-N 2230—it's a single-band adapter that doesn't give you any choice but to connect to crowded 2.4GHz Wi-Fi networks. On the bright side, it's a 2x2 adapter, meaning that it supports a maximum physical link rate of 300 mbps. It also provides Bluetooth 4.0 support, and is compatible with Intel's WiDi video-streaming technology. The wired ethernet adapter, meanwhile, is limited to 100 mbps—I thought those adapters had gone the way of the PS/2 port.

In addition to WiDi, you have your choice of HDMI or VGA video outputs for connecting to external displays. And like the Acer Aspire, the IdeaPad has three USB ports, but only one of them is the speedy USB 3.0. Lenovo does provide a memory card reader that supports both SD and MMC media, and the company includes Dolby Home Theater technology and a set of decent speakers, so you won't have to rely on headphones for an enjoyable audio experience.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Z400 Touch is a heavy computer for its size, its network connectivity is weak, and its battery life is very poor. But this laptop is a very good performer, with a great keyboard, an optical drive, and the largest, fastest hard drive in this group. It's also the machine I'd recommend if you need a computer in this price range that's rugged enough to tolerate a little rough handling. Overall it finishes a solid second in our roundup.


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