Lenovo Crafts Z51 Notebook for Consumers, Enterprise Buyers

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2015-05-28
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Lenovo Crafts Z51 Notebook for Consumers, Enterprise Buyers
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    Lenovo Crafts Z51 Notebook for Consumers, Enterprise Buyers

    By Don Reisinger
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    For the Enterprise, It's About Security
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    For the Enterprise, It's About Security

    At first blush, the Z51 looks like a consumer product. But further inspection reveals enterprise customers could find some value in the device. The chief reason for that is its security software. The offering includes Lenovo OneKey Recovery that automatically backs up the computer, allowing users to restore the data in the event of a catastrophe. The Z51 also has Lenovo's VeriFace Pro, which uses a scan of the user's face to secure the notebook. When turned on, the front-facing camera analyzes the user's face. If it's not the owner, the notebook won't open. It's a well-respected security feature that enterprise users will like.
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    This is a Hefty Notebook
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    This is a Hefty Notebook

    Although Lenovo says that the Z51 is a "slim" option for customers, the truth is, the device isn't nearly as mobile-friendly as it could be. For one, it's about an inch thick, making it substantially thicker than some of the competing products already on store shelves. In addition, it weighs a whopping 5 pounds. In a world where devices are getting thinner and lighter, such a big notebook could have some trouble appealing to busy, traveling professionals. Image 2: Please use this image:
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    Lenovo Ships the Z51 With Windows 8.1
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    Lenovo Ships the Z51 With Windows 8.1

    So, here's the bad news: Lenovo is shipping the news Z51 notebook with Windows 8.1, an operating system that Microsoft can't wait to retire. The good news is that Microsoft has promised that anyone with a PC that runs Windows 8.1 will get a free upgrade to Windows 10, its upcoming operating system. Assuming that Windows 10 is as good as Microsoft is promising, upgrading the operating system as soon as possible might be a good move.
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    The Z51 Includes a Solid, but Not Groundbreaking Display
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    The Z51 Includes a Solid, but Not Groundbreaking Display

    The display built into the Z51 is a strong option for customers. The device has a 15.6-inch screen featuring a full HD resolution of 1,920 by 1,080. While the new push in displays is to go with 2K, 4K or even 5K in the case of Apple, the vast majority of content is still running in full HD, so the Lenovo option should work out just fine.
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    It Falls a Bit Short on Ports
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    It Falls a Bit Short on Ports

    There are surprisingly few ports in the Lenovo Z51. The device comes with two USB 3.0 ports and just one USB 2.0 port. In addition, it offers HDMI-out, a four-in-one card reader and VGA. It would have been nice if some other ports—perhaps even the USB-C—would have been bundled in a product that Lenovo is pitching as the next big thing in notebooks.
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    It's All About 3D
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    It's All About 3D

    One of the more important features built into the Z51 is 3D technology. The device comes with the Intel RealSense 3D camera that features a depth sensor. The camera scans the object and recreates a full 3D representation, including depth perception in a way somewhat similar to the human eye. Lenovo says the feature results in a more "lifelike video chat experience."
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    Lenovo Bundles Stagelight Timbaland Music Production Software
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    Lenovo Bundles Stagelight Timbaland Music Production Software

    Lenovo is highlighting the audio features of the Z51. Bundled with the Z51 is OpenLabs' Stagelight Timbaland Edition music production software that provides digital music development and editing tools reputed to be on par with what you would find in a professional recording studio. Think of the platform like Apple's GarageBand but, according to Lenovo, even better.
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    It Comes With the Usual Software Add-ons.
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    It Comes With the Usual Software Add-ons.

    Like most other Windows-based computers, the Lenovo Z51 comes with its share of bloatware. The device has Lenovo Shareit, OneKey Recovery for security and the company's phone companion app. There's also the McAfee security app and 3D software in the form of Wave Warrior and Personify. Lenovo has even bundled Netflix and Google Play Music in the device.
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    Buyers Can Select High-End Hardware Options
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    Buyers Can Select High-End Hardware Options

    While the cheapest model comes with the Intel Core i3 processor and an Intel HD Graphics 5500 graphics card, the Z51's upgrade options are top-notch. Customers can opt for an Intel Core i7 processor, a dedicated AMD Radeon R9 GPU and the ability to choose a hybrid 1TB hard drive. Depending on use, it may be a good idea to up those specs to get more power and usability out of the Z51.
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    Pricing Ranges Depending on the Version
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    Pricing Ranges Depending on the Version

    The Lenovo Z51 is yet another affordable Windows notebook. The device starts at $549 after Lenovo's "instant savings" of $150.99, but goes up to $849 with the add-ons. Lenovo's Z51 will start shipping in June and be available in stores within that time frame.
 

Lenovo is one of the world's top notebook makers, offering products that have been favorites with enterprise buyers—not the least because it acquired IBM's PC business and owns the venerable ThinkPad laptop brand. But Lenovo recently announced a new notebook, the Z51, that's designed to bridge the gap between the enterprise and consumers by providing features and an experience that would appeal to professionals and home users alike. Lenovo's move to cater to the greatest number of possible users is a market approach that several competitors, including Hewlett-Packard and Dell, are taking. The notebook market has been hit hard by the impact of Windows 8, tablets, smartphones and slower laptop upgrade cycles. PC makers have had to respond with feature-packed notebooks that can appeal to a broad range of customers. Whether Lenovo's new versatile notebook can actually do that, however, is up for debate. The notebook has a nice design and some interesting features, but it ships with Windows 8.1 and has a few other shortcomings that might keep it from being the standout product for buyers. Read on to find out some of the high and the low points in the Lenovo Z51 notebook.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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