NEC LaVie Z Hands-On: World's Lightest Ultrabook Weighs Just 1.9 Pounds

How light would you like your Ultrabook? If even 3 pounds seems to heavy to you, try packing the 13.3-inch NEC LaVie Z, which weighs a paper-light 1.9 pounds. We had a chance to go hands-on with the svelte system here at Intel's Developer Forum and we just couldn't believe how light it felt in our hands.

At just .59-inches thick, the LaVie Z is also one of the thinnest notebooks on the market. Despite the thinness, we were pleased to see that the Ultrabook, which is made from a lightweight lithium-magnesium alloy, has room for several ports including an SD card reader, two USB ports (one of which is USB 3.0) and a full-size HDMI port. We wish there was an Ethernet port, but you can't have everything on a system this light.

The 13.3-inch screen touts a respectable resolution of 1600 x 900 which, in our brief hands-on, made images fairly sharp, but colors were not particularly vibrant and the viewing angles on this glossy screen seemed poor as a lot of light reflect off its surface. Even at maximum brightness, the display did not seem particularly bright to us, but to be fair, the notebook was on display in an area of the convention center with a lot of sunlight coming in and hitting its surface. 

The LaVie Z's keyboard has some awkward key sizes and placements, with a tiny undersized right Shift key that sits to the right of the up arrow key, a giant rectangular Enter key that looks like it belongs on an old-school typewriter and a tiny square backspace key. When we pressed the keys they seemed a bit shallow but not overly stiff or mushy. The small, matte touch pad appeared reasonably accurate in our use.

 However, the most impressive feature of the NEC  LaVie Z is clearly its lightweight chassis. While we normally have difficulty holding a notebook by its deck with just one hand, we were able to hold up the LaVie Z with our left, non-dominant hand while filming with our right. Better still, the Ultrabook did not feel creaky or loosely constructed even when we held it this way.

Though it is made for the Japanese market where it was released in August, Dynamism is now selling  the LaVie Z to U.S. consumers for $1,799 with a 1.9-GHz Intel 3rd Generation Core i7 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. 

Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.