NEC Lavie Z

Although it's not available to buy in the UK, we couldn't resist picking up the NEC Lavie Z at an Ultrabook showcase this morning.

NEC laptops may be a rare sighting in Britain but they're seriously popular in Japan. The Lavie Z currently holds the record of world's lightest Ultrabook. The weight - 875g - is impressive enough, but more so when you realise that it has a 13.3in screen.

In fact, when you first lift it off the desk, it feels like a plastic prototype, lacking any internal components or battery. But real it is, and barely heavier than a new iPad 4, which weighs 662g. Put that iPad in a folio case and it will probably weigh more than the Lavie Z.

The feather-like weight (it's lighter than most dinner plates) has the psychological effect of making the Lavie feel flimsy, but it's actually fairly stiff and tough, being made from magnesium alloy. With the lid closed, it's just under 15mm thick.

NEC Lavie Z side

The model we looked at ran Windows 7 and didn't have a touchscreen, which felt a little odd in a room full of Windows 8 touchscreen Ultrabooks, but it was probably the most desirable of the lot.

Some might object at the keyboard, which has some oddly placed keys, such as the right Shift key to the right of the 'up' arrow key, and we're not generally fans of buttonless touchpads, either.

A glance at the Lavie's specs renews the temptation, though: a Core i7-3517U running at 1.9GHz (Turbo Boost to 3GHz) and a 256GB SSD. The screen's resolution of 1600 x 900 is a step up from the usual 1366 x 768, too.

4GB of RAM isn't anything to write home about, nor are the integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. However, a claimed run time of up to 8 hours between charges makes it just about the ideal travel companion.

Ports include an SD card reader, two USBs (one is USB 3) and a full-size HDMI output. You don't get Ethernet, though.

If there's one other niggle, it's the reflective screen, but given that it's possible to get the Lavie Z shipped to the UK, the £1179 price is extremely tempting.

See also: grouptest - what's the best Ultrabook?

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