Lenovo Ideapad Z500 : User Review
by Daniel Cosgrove
January 1, 1970
Below is a user review the Lenovo Z500 Ideapad, a budget gaming laptop. This all-rounder looks great on paper, with a 15.6” HD screen, core i7 processor, and 6Gb RAM, but what is it really like to use one?
With plenty of top notch hardware and slick design, there’s no denying that the Z500 is worth your consideration. What makes it good is great, but when it falls short, it falls hard.
Battery Life & Charging:
First, I’ll dive right in and give my experience with the most essential feature of any laptop: the battery. For the majority of my experience the battery life of the Z500 has been more than satisfactory: during three years of constant use it managed to maintain a steady performance, routinely lasting the full 3 hours as promised. However this seems to come at the cost of slow charging time of about 5 hours. Sadly, at the ripe-old age of four years my laptop battery has finally begun degrading.
Performance & Design:
The performance of this laptop stands out above all other aspects, and the Z500 truly is a portable powerhouse. The main reason I chose this laptop was to be able to run editing software like Photoshop and After Effects with minimum stress, and I was not disappointed. The same goes for games. Everything I’ve ever thrown at it has been handled without a hitch. If performance is all you are looking for, I cannot recommend this laptop more.
It looks great too, with a sleek aluminium shell providing a very comfortable, solid surface to rest your wrists on when typing, and the backlit keyboard is indeed incredibly useful, but more importantly it just looks so cool!.
The Z500 is heavy at 4.9lbs (2.2Kg), but this is the result of Lenovo putting the thin casing to good use, with 1Tb of storage, optical disk drive supporting Blu-ray and disk burning, to mention a few.
If weight isn’t an issue for you, it’s still quite slender and portable. As a user who mostly works from home, I find the weight to not be an issue, but with a screen size of 15.6” you’ll definitely want a decent laptop case or large backpack.
As trackpads go (which is badly in my opinion: I generally find them an unwieldy interface), the intelligent touchpad is fine. It does everything I expect: scrolling, zooming, dragging.
Navigating webpages and documents is comfortable, however nothing stands out about it. The plastic coating has begun to fray after 4 years, and while it still functions perfectly, if you can get your hands on a model with a touchscreen it will definitely be worth it.
Now here’s where I’ve found the Z500 often falls short: device drivers. Windows 8 and 8.1 had so many compatibility issues with this laptop, which was especially infuriating knowing that my laptop was built for windows 8!
To name just one, the most up-to-date display adaptor that Lenovo provides has always caused my screen backlight to switch off. To fix this I have to manually switch to the Microsoft Basic Display adaptor. This is annoying to say the least, and the switch must be done every time I connect to an external monitor.
USB pens have always worked seamlessly, but SD cards would often not be recognised.
Generally there is good support from the community and every problem I came across had at least a partial fix online, however I was disappointed that Lenovo were not more diligent in fixing these major issues.
But these days Windows 8 is just a bad memory, and while some of the problems persist, Windows 10 still runs much better than 8 ever did. If you currently have windows 8 on this laptop and are worried about upgrading, I can attest to 10’s vast superiority.
Strength & Durability:
Lenovo’s official website says:
All Lenovo systems must pass our rigorous reliability standards and are stress tested for endurance. Many of our notebooks even pass eight military specs for ruggedness under extreme hot, cold, humid, or dusty conditions.
After 4 years of daily use, a few scary drops and much intercity travelling, I’m inclined to believe this. After all the time I’ve had it, the laptop looks as good as new (apart from the chocolate stains, but those are on me). The resilience it’s shown makes me confident that I have many years left to get out of it.
The Z500 is an on-the-go powerhouse, boasting fantastic graphics and processing capabilities. It handles nearly everything I throw at it, and rarely has it crashed in 4 years.
This laptop functions as a very capable all-in-one video-music-game centre, as well as a providing an efficient, comfortable digital workspace.
The accutype keyboard is a pleasure to use: with firm, well-spaced keys and a long metal casing before that, typing for long periods or on-the-go is a breeze.
Or how about long periods, on-the-go and in the dark? Your inner child will squeal with delight at the keyboard backlight, and your adult façade will admit an approving nod.
As I mentioned above, even with Windows 10 the laptop still has some truly infuriating compatibility issues and this is a laptop made for windows! I know people who had a better time using Windows on their partitioned Macbook than I have on this.
The screen quality also leaves a lot to be desired, even compared to many cheaper laptops I’ve seen since.
Firstly, the display of this screen is just lacklustre: colours aren’t vibrant and the maximum brightness can still leave everything looking unsatisfyingly grey and just a bit too dim.
The glare from the glossy surface makes outdoor use impossible (not that that’s much of a problem for me here in Dublin), and the viewing angles are very limited, preventing multiple people viewing the monitor at once.
Personally, I can acclimatise to it pretty easily as I normally just work from the one monitor, but every time I have to work near other computers my insecurity complex is exacerbated as I’m painfully reminded how much duller my screen is.
Sound quality from the speakers is also below average. Don’t expect a new speaker system from the Z500.
All in all, I’ll conclude that the Z500 is competitive as a high-functioning all-rounder. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a superior laptop in this price range.
On the other hand, the high specs seem to have forced Lenovo to opt for leaving some severe deficits in other areas, which might be deal breakers for those in need of higher standards.
Rating : 6.5/10