Review of Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2: Somewhat portentous but not outstanding

Review of Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2: Somewhat portentous but not outstanding

The ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2 from Lenovo is a peculiar device. On paper, this business laptop appears to be incredibly portable. It’s light, thin, and packed with features, including a fingerprint sensor and Windows Hello support for its webcam. It also has a fantastic screen. It’s also not a slouch thanks to its AMD Ryzen 7 Pro processor.

However, it also lacks key features that you may anticipate finding on a professional laptop, like as a microSD card reader and a ton of USB ports. Furthermore, considering the cost of the device we examined, it’s difficult to overlook Lenovo’s superb ThinkPad X1 Carbon as a possible substitute. In the end, this ThinkPad may be best understood in terms of its iconic red “nub.” Either you’ll like it or you won’t. Nonetheless, if you’re the ideal kind of business traveler, this laptop might be ideal for you.

Specs for the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2

Though there are many different configurations available for the ThinkPad Z14 Gen 2, the majority of them center around the standard options: RAM capacity, storage capacity, CPU type, and display and resolution. The top-of-the-line model that we evaluated has an AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 7840U processor, 1TB of SSD storage, 32GB of RAM that is regrettably soldered, and an OLED touchscreen display measuring 2880 by 1800. You can save money by settling for a 1920×1080 IPS non-touch (or touch!) display, 256GB of storage, and 16GB of RAM. However, it’s challenging to suggest a contemporary Windows 11 laptop with 256GB of storage or 16GB of RAM.

  • CPU: Ryzen 7 Pro 7840U from AMD
  • 32GB of memory
  • GPU and graphics: AMD Radeon 780M
  • 13-inch, 2880×1800, 400 nits, OLED touchscreen
  • 1TB SSD for storage
  • 1080p webcam
  • Connectivity: Combination audio jack and two Type-C USB4 ports
  • Networking: Bluetooth 5.3, Wi-Fi 6E
  • Biometrics: fingerprint scanning and infrared facial recognition
  • 51.5 Watt-hours of battery capacity; 11.6 x 7.0 x 0.55 inches in dimensions
  • 2.62 pounds in weight
  • MSRP: $1,873.80 ($1,241.40, base) as tested




Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2: Design and construction quality

Have you previously seen a ThinkPad? If so, you will be able to recognize the Z1 right away thanks to its red nub in the middle of the keyboard and its grey chassis. And that is not a bad thing at all! Since you intend to use this laptop for business purposes at the office or on location, something garish, overly flashy, or unsightly is the last thing you should bring with you. Overall, the ThinkPad Z13 is a visually pleasing laptop with a businesslike appearance.

Lenovo chose a stylish matte black style with a few red accents as is customary. Along with the traditional keyboard nub, the ThinkPad logo has a bright red dot above it. Additionally, there is a small bonus on the rear of the lid: when the laptop is turned on, the I in the ThinkPad logo illuminates. Lenovo provides a flax fiber variant that looks like woven fabric, but we have the metal lid version here for testing. Although it appears good in photos, we are unable to comment further as we did not obtain that particular model.

The bezels are thin overall, yet this causes the webcam area to protrude. However, Lenovo does a fantastic job here by turning a challenge into an opportunity. The wedge-shaped webcam bar is the ideal place to hold and open your laptop. It’s a feature rather than a bug! The gadget is lightweight, tiny, and clearly designed for travel. That might not be helping things, though, since I noticed that the device is heating up even when doing routine tasks like browsing the web, and the fans are running more frequently than I would like.

For an ultrabook in its class, the Z13 is also a tad bit heavier. Surprisingly, it weighs more than the ThinkPad Carbon X1. Yet that’s a positive thing. It weighs a little over 2.5 pounds, so unlike most other ultrabooks, you won’t regret carrying it around. However, the device has a sturdy feel to it. The reason it doesn’t groan, squeak, or creak is due to the material selections. They feel better, but they weigh more.

Trackpad and keyboard for the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2

I apologize, but I’m not as fond of the trackpad and keyboard as I once was. Lenovo made some difficult decisions regarding the keyboard, not all of them are excellent. For example, the arrow keys are quite squishy, especially the up and down buttons. You also lose the dedicated page up and page down keys; the little up and down keys serve just as backups. Although there is very little travel, the keys clack satisfyingly. However, out of all the ThinkPad models I’ve tested, the Z13 has some of the shallowest travel—if not the shallowest—that I’ve ever encountered. My fingertips ached a little after typing a lot.

Positively, Lenovo repositioned the CTRL and Fn keys. It is backward that previous versions positioned the left-hand FN key next to the left-hand Ctrl key. Thankfully, this model positions the Ctrl key where it belongs—on the outside edge. The fingerprint sensor is a great addition, and I also like that Escape has the FnLock option.

The Z13 has keyboard backlighting as well, although it only comes in white because it’s a business laptop. Fortunately, you can turn it off and change the brightness between two levels. In all honesty, I thought the greater brightness level was luckily not too bright, and the lower level was adequate. It will accomplish precisely what you need it to: clear the path when working late into the night and disappear when you’re done with it.

In spite of my grievances regarding the brief trip, it isn’t tough to go ahead of the keyboard. If you type too quickly, your input may be lost on the keyboard. When that occurs, the ThinkPad beeps to alert you, and as quickly as I type, it happens frequently enough to grab my attention for this assessment. The behavior felt strange because I didn’t appear to be missing any letters in any of the cases.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2: Speakers and display

Really, what can be said about integrated speakers? These aren’t always outstanding, but they’re not quite that bad either. I’ve experimented with working with both dialog-heavy and dialog-absent content, as well as watching movies and listening to music. I suppose the best description I can give is muddy. Probably a close second is competent.

I struggled a little bit to comprehend the dialogue, but I could hear it enough in each occasion. You receive almost no bass, so avoid listening to music that demands it. I could never help but go for my headphones whenever I used the speakers. These speakers are better than nothing and will work in a pinch. However, if you can, put on a pair of headphones.

However, the display tells an entirely different tale. The 2880×1800 OLED touchscreen on the laptop I’m testing is excellent. OLED provides stunning inky blacks and colors rich enough for a business-class laptop. The Lenovo was the better choice when compared to another laptop with a good display (stay tuned for the future Acer Swift Go 14 review!). Everyone in my household was aware of this. Additionally flawless are the scaling and resolution. With the default scale, I can fit a respectable amount of stuff on the display, and the text is not overly small. Although gaming wouldn’t be my first choice with a 60Hz refresh rate, that isn’t the purpose of this laptop.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2: Biometric, webcam, and microphone functions

The 1080p webcam is housed in a protruding bar at the top of the display. The bar not only provides a handy hold point for opening the laptop, but it also provides ample space for the attachment of an infrared camera for Windows Hello login. The fingerprint reader, of course, eliminates the need for you to use it. However, I experimented with both biometric login techniques, and the camera was usually faster. Unfortunately, the camera lacks a real privacy shutter that some organizations would need to lock off operations. Rather, you will electronically turn off the camera by pressing a function key. When you do, a cute little icon appears to let you know if it was successful.

The 1080p camera is a good improvement over many built-in webcams and is functional. It works well enough and supports Windows Studio Effects so you probably won’t feel the need to carry around a separate webcam. This features eye contact to make it look as though you’re staring at the camera when you glance at the screen, background blur, and automatic framing to keep your face in frame while you move around. I found the eye contact feature a little unnerving after using it. When I make eye contact, my dark brown eyes give the appearance of being jet black.

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 2: Battery life

We loop a 4K version of the Tears of Steel movie on the laptop while it is in airplane mode to see how long the battery lasts. The 13.3-inch OLED screen on the Z13 is marginally smaller, but it also houses a slightly smaller battery. Additionally, the AMD processor manages to drink the battery very well. It managed to run down to about eleven hours with the keyboard backlight off and brightness set to medium. Some laptops from prior years died substantially sooner, while others with larger (and heavier) batteries held out longer on the same test. That’s a decent result.

Conclusion

If one were to base their decision only on the Z13’s build, performance, and battery life, it would be simple to suggest buying it right now. Lenovo has once again provided us with everything we’ve grown to love and expect from a ThinkPad in those areas. There’s no denying the presence of the nub, functional keys despite their shallowness, and good extras like respectable battery life, a touch OLED that can be turned on or off, and options for both fingerprint biometrics and cameras. For travel and business, that’s the whole deal.

In light of the assessment, $1,800 is a steep price to pay for a device that has just two USB-C connections. This implies that additional funds will be required for you to finish this package. An SD card reader, USB-A dongles, and other things might be required. You’ll probably want to spend a lot of money on a travel hub that will give you access to more ports and an SD card reader. However, that means carrying about more, spending more, and handling greater weight. And what happens if you unintentionally leave those items at home?

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