Lenovo cites "missteps" on the new LaVie Z laptop

When the Lenovo LaVie Z superlight laptop was introduced during CES 2015, it was among the hottest products at the show. So when we were finally able to order the LaVie Z 360 (we buy all the computers we test), we were looking forward to getting it into the lab. What arrived instead was a letter from the company apologizing for some flaws with the new product. (See the letter below.)

On its website, Lenovo has shown the LaVie Z 360 working in several modes—laptop, tablet, tent, and stand—just like many convertible computers. The computer was also notable for its feathery weight. It was just 2.04 pounds, and very thin at 0.67 inches.

The letter, which CR received by e-mail, explained that Lenovo had made “a couple missteps” in its "haste to bring the product to market." Apparently, when the computer is used in tent mode, the display doesn’t auto-rotate. Yep, that means you’d see an upside-down image. The letter explained that you could use Windows commands to fix that, but that "this is not a great user experience."

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And that’s not all, Lenovo continued. In stand mode, the keyboard doesn’t automatically deactivate. "A user may be okay in Stand Mode with LaVie Z lying flat on a table, but if it were on your lap for example, the keys may depress and once again cause an unsatisfactory user experience." Yes, we agree: That would be unsatisfactory.

This all seemed like a prelude to an announcement that shipments were being delayed for a couple of weeks while the problems were fixed. Not so. In reality, Lenovo was planning to ship the computers as is—while refunding 5 percent of the cost.

We thought the company might be able to offer a firmware fix for the problems, so we contacted Lenovo to ask about that. We also wanted to ask about the decision to ship a flawed laptop, and why the company is providing this small discount instead of offering full refunds. We haven't yet received answers; we'll update you when we do. And we'll be testing the computer in our labs once it arrives.

In the letter, Lenovo says it has updated its website, and indeed the specs for the LaVie Z 360 now talk only about tablet and laptop modes. But it’s too late for anyone who already bought the LaVie with greater expectations.

—Donna Tapellini

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