Lenovo’s IdeaPad Z400 Touch is a bit bulky, but it’s a solid, powerful desktop replacement laptop for business users.
The notebook packs most of the features you expect from a midrange Ultrabook, but with a beefier processor and a more affordable price point for small business owners. The $700 laptop is thicker and heftier than comparable Ultrabooks, so it’s not a great pick for commuters. But it outperforms most other machines in its price range, and it boasts relatively long battery life for a machine with an Intel Core i5 processor.
Desktop users who need to travel only occasionally with their laptop will find a lot to like in the Z400 Touch. And the Windows 8.1 notebook boasts a number of old-school laptop features that business users in particular will appreciate.
An Ultrabook it isn’t. The Z400 Touch features a 14-inch display and is about 1.25 inches thick, and it weighs in at about 5.23 lbs. — not too heavy for the occasional commute, but heftier than the average 2- to 4-lb. Ultrabook. Its semiportability makes it a decent choice for business users who spend most of their time stationed at a work desk.
In some ways, the Z400 Touch resembles an Ultrabook with its backlit keyboard and sealed chassis. That means there’s no way to swap out the battery for a backup while traveling, or when the battery life eventually starts to suffer after a few years; a real possibility if you rarely unplug your laptop to let the battery discharge.
The 10-point touch display on the Z400 Touch is bright and sharp, though the resolution is not as high as some competing laptops at 1,366x768 pixels. The notebook has a backlit island-style keyboard with sculpted keys to reduce adjacent key errors and a slightly recessed one-piece trackpad.
Expect solid performance from the Z400 Touch. Under the hood, the machine packs a 2.6Ghz Intel Core i5-3230M processor, making it the performance leader for comparable laptops and Ultrabooks in its price range. If running your business requires you to complete processor-intensive tasks such as video editing or heavy spreadsheet computation, the Z400 Touch is up to the task. Buyers can upgrade to 8GB of RAM for even speedier multitasking.
The Z400 Touch comes with 1TB of internal storage. The trade-off for a spacious spinning hard disk is speed; compared with speedy solid state disk-powered notebooks, expect a bit of delay when you’re first loading a program. The machine also takes longer than average to boot up Windows 8.1 — another strike against its portability.
An optical drive is responsible in part for the thickness of the Z400 Touch, but the inclusion should benefit small business owners who need to burn data to a disc, or want to install previously purchased Windows software on their new machine. Many competing notebooks eschew the optical drive entirely in favor of a slimmer profile. Also present is an Ethernet port, full-size HDMI port, USB 3.0, SD card slot and a VGA port, a feature that’s handy for business users who want to hook up their machine to an older projector for presentations.
The Z400 Touch ships with Windows 8, and buyers can upgrade to the Windows 8.1 — the latest version of Microsoft’s PC operating system — for free. The launch of Windows 8.1 added NFC tap-to-pair printing, native broadband tethering, new security benefits (including support for fingerprint-scanning devices) and more. It also now supports broadband tethering, allowing users to turn the Z400 Touch into a mobile hotspot so they can stay connected on all of their devices.
The machine’s 14-inch touch screen means business users can better take advantage of the touch-centric features of Windows 8.1, including a library of Windows 8 mobile productivity and business apps available via the Windows Store. And the inclusion of OneKey recovery software will help business users restore the system if it is compromised.
Lenovo’s IdeaPad Z400 Touch is a good pick for business users who only occasionally move their laptop away from their desk. At the price point, it presents a good value proposition with relatively powerful hardware and decent battery life. It combines features of modern Ultrabooks with full-size laptop perks like an optical drive, a VGA port and a massive 1TB hard drive. And its responsive touch screen is a perk for business users who want to take full advantage of Windows 8.1. It’s a bit too bulky to carry on your commute, however. If you need a mobile business companion, look elsewhere.