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Lenovo's new laptop makes the MacBook Air feel heavy

This is the lightest 13-inch laptop in the world

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When I first picked up Lenovo’s new LaVie Z notebook I thought it was a joke. It looks and feels like a dummy laptop you’d find in a store, but it’s actually a real, functional, insanely light laptop. At just 1.72 pounds you would expect low specifications, a flimsy build, and poor battery life, but Lenovo surprises at every opportunity. Packed inside its 16.9mm thin body is Intel’s 5th generation Core i5 processor, an unusual choice over the fanless Core M processors that are often selected for such thin and light machines.

That gives you the power of a real laptop alongside a 13.3-inch display that can be configured up to 2560 x 1440 resolution. There’s no touchscreen on the basic laptop model (HZ550), but Lenovo also has a convertible Z model (HZ750) that works like a Yoga with a 360-degree hinge to flip around and an option for an Core i7 processor. The convertible is slightly heavier at 2.04 pounds, but it’s largely identical otherwise. Lenovo is using an IGZO display in both models, a choice that should help with battery life. The company estimates 5.9 hours for the notebook model and around 9 hours for the convertible.

So how has Lenovo managed to make these laptops so light and thin? The answer is a combination of partnering with NEC, which produced a 2.2-pound model two years ago, and the use of an Magnesium-Lithium (Mg-Li) alloy case that covers the top and bottom of both models. Lenovo is using a forged case engineering technique to build the keyboard and display panel directly into the chassis. It’s a unique approach with a metal that feels unbelievably light as if it’s plastic, but sturdy enough to be used on a laptop.

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You have to hold it to believe it

It’s really hard to explain in words or pictures just how light this laptop is. You need to hold it to really appreciate how crazy it is. I held it with just two fingers and from the corner edge of the base, and my muscles (I don’t think I really have any) didn’t even twitch. When I picked up a MacBook Air shortly afterwards, Apple’s highly praised laptop started to feel really bulky. Every laptop needs to be as light as this new Lenovo.

Both models will be available in the US in May, with the basic HZ550 (without touchscreen) priced at $1,299 and the convertible (HZ750) priced at approximately $1,499.

Lenovo LaVie Z hands-on photos