01-02-2013 07:59 PM
Posted originally to another popular forum, but reposted here in case potential buyers are wondering what's good and not about this s
1. Picked up an early 2012 i5-3210 8GB 750GB Win 7 Z580 for $400 at outlet.lenovo.com, discounted from $600 new. Great place to check hourly and daily, esp. around seasonal sales, for great bargains.
2. Shipped from NC on UPS 3-day select free over the xmas holiday in five days.
3. Slim cardboard box with handle and bright sticker saying call their theft number if you didn't order it because of potential id theft.
Never seen this before - guess lenovo are one of the pricey brands to steal?
Box, ac adapter, battery, warranty manual, safety manual, fold out quick start poster - really nothing worth reading. Just plug in power and boot it.
4. Battery and ac charger are nice,slim, light. (esp. Vs a Macbook Pro 2006's) Battery came with 77% charge.
5. Standard Win 7 install with McAfee, Oovoo, Nitro PDF as the major trial, junkware. Cyberlink Power2Go and Dolby are the nice additions. Office 2010 included - your pick to run as ad sponsored, activate with key, or delete.
Takes a few dozen minutes to uninstall the junk.
Backup DVD creation through OneKey takes about an hour and 3 discs on the LiteOn burner. Backup partition, D drive, takes up about 4GB, but haven't checked for other hidden ones yet.
Screen measures ISO 100, f/3.5, 1/60 which is about the same as a Macbook Pro 2006 on full brightness., which is generally too bright indoors. At night, 50% is more than sufficient.
Silly glossy screen to give the illusion of more contrast, but it's not an IPS panel nor a HQ TN panel with superior black levels and contrast. Reflections are a touch less vs 2012 Toshiba Satellites L/S series in the same price range.
Color temp is far less yellow than the 2006 Macbook Pro, but is warmer than the Satellite noted.
Overall weight and balance is lighter than the Macbook Pro 2006, and a touch lighter than some other 15.6” competitors. Comfortable, at the expected 5.5ish (haven't weighed it accurately), pounds picking it up and on the lap for short 'periods. Flat bottom, so good there.
Aluminum accent on the keyboard , touchpad area is not too cold, but top cover is. Top cover is stupid given how easily it'll scratch. At least a standard skinit sticker protector will do fine here. Macbook Pro definitely shows signs of wear after a year of use on the aluminum body. But, at least it's all dark gray and black.
a) Takes many hours to download the Windows 8 drivers - over 1GB!!!
(Same with Windows 7 and XP drivers - huge downloads!)
Even the reps at the Microsoft Store say Windows 7 is better for now, so only upgrade to Windows 8 if you're willing to take the chance and spend hours at it.
Once nice thing is Nokia has published a way to run Windows 8 under a virtual machine on Windows 7 - great way to use Windows 8 and get used to it before doing a full migration.
Windows Phone 8 SDK on a Virtual Machine with Working Emulator - Nokia Developer Wiki
Being able to install everything into their free VMPlayer software is a definite plus for those playing around with Win8.
You can also install Windows 8 as a dual boot into a VHD file under Windows 7. This works 99% like a true dual boot system, but you can easily backup and delete your Windows 8 system by manipulating the VHD file it's installed into.
Windows 8 VHD - Create at Boot to Dual Boot with
b) The speakers suck!!
Esp. for a $600 retail priced laptop, they're aweful. Tiny sounding, no bass at all, lack of much warmth, lack of stereo imaging of any worth.
Very sad for the Lenovo and a big reason to look for other notebooks if audio is important.
That's why they included the Dolby software - rather than spending money to design the speaker hardware right in the first place, they depend on software to 'correct' for the limitations of a poor speaker subsystem.
Interestingly, just turning on the Dolby with no check boxes selected for any of the features (eg. equalizer, volume leveling, etc), there is an improvement in the speakers that you can hear right away.
Basically, create a custom profile with nothing else checked and use that as the default! You're ears won't hurt as much even though they're using tiny, cheap speakers.
After Dolby is on, sound is acceptable for the non-audiophile quality laptop user it's aimed at. You can turn up the volume loud and it will fill a bedroom nicely. Much like a 2006 MacBook Pro on full volume.
Interestingly, you don't hear any difference with Dolby on or off with headphones plugged in and NO Dolby options checked. This is different from what you hear over the speakers - thus, there's some sort of OEM speaker optimization going on here.
The various Dolby options basically drive audiophiles NUTS!! Stereo widening really doesn't do anything much at all. Volume leveling merely muffles the sound (perhaps good if you're trying to listen to something super quite then loud without adjusting the volume), and the Intelligent Equalizer is a mess.
Pretty much after playing songs from singers that require superb audio system to reproduce (eg. Ayaka, Mika Nakashima, etc), Dolby is mostly a useless tool. Turn on just about anything and the audio quality worsens.
About the only option that does a bit of good is the graphic equalizer - turn it on, and bump up 125-1000 hz by a notch to help bring out the voices a touch.
The audio subsystem is definitely not as good as the Macbook Pro 2006 15". Even changing the volume is touchy - fine steps from super quiet to super loud on the Macbook; on the Z580, you must adjust the master volume at times, then adjust the music player's volume.
eg. When the master volume on the Z580 is at 1 (just one notch above muted), the volume range in the Windows Media Player is basically super-quiet to quiet. If you adjust the master volume up, it can be difficult to find enough steps in the Windows Media Player's volume at the low range - it can jump from muted to much louder.
This isn't as big of a problem using the speakers, but is definitely an issue using headphones (eg. earbuds) at times. On the Macbook, you simply adjust the master volume. On the Z580, you have to adjust both volume's.
c) Naturally, the biggest problem with Dolby is that it's software altering the sound output in an unknown manner.
You can't predict, even over speakers, with Dolby on, whether sounds you play are as 'true' to the original as the system can produce, or if it's been 'enhanced'. This is different vs. software equalization of a speaker system for optimal playback.
Thus, when you get into sound editing for films, you begin to think about buying and using external USB audio devices in order to get the 'most accurate' playback possible. Otherwise, with Dolby off, it's a poor mess what the speakers produce without Dolby on.
d) The AUTO touch button for 'optimizing' the audio and video for movies works so-so. At first, you think it's done something interesting, but it's really just pulling the black levels down further than the original. The LCD panel itself is not high quality, so the blacks are never pure blacks - always a touch of gray, which you can see in a 100% dark room.
Thus, initially, the video seems to be of higher contrast, but it's really just crushing blacks uselessly. (eg. audience members in a concert that are not well-lit go from dark gray to 'can't see them!??') Perhaps of use if you're playing back poor quality home videos, but for quality mastered DVDs and videos, it really serves you better to simply turn the auto-video optimization off.
Similarly, the auto button turns on the Dolby Movie mode. Again, a mess IMO because it simply ruins the voices of great singers - turns them muddy and harder to hear.
e) Haven't measured the audio response of the headphone jacks yet with Rightmark, but based on the specs for the ALC269 Realtek chip, it's not a 'studio' quality sound chip (under -100 dB range).
Certainly, you get better playback 'warmth and stereo space' on a Nokia 603 phone and a Playstation PSP 1000 over earbuds, but whether the Z580 is producing a 'neutral' signal is not yet known. You definitely don't feel that the sound output over headphones is 'rich' or 'inviting' by any means.
f) The button for the fans is simply normal or quieter/louder. The fans seems to always be running, but not intrusive at night on the lowest volumes with quiet mode on. The DVD drive will be louder than the fans at this point, but everything's decently muted that it's not an issue in most uses during the day.
g) Wish they simply spend the $1 to put in a Thinklight above the LCD panel. Hard to see the keys at night, esp. localize the arrow keys which also control the volume/brightness.
h) System is partitioned into 4 sections:
200MB system boot
Windows 7 650GB
Lenovo drivers 25G
OEM hidden recovery 20G
You can search for how to copy the boot files over from the 200MB partition over to the Windows partition to get rid of that useless system boot partition, then use EaseUS Partition Manager to recover those 200MB. You can similarly backup the ~4GB on the Lenovo partition, then delete and recover those 25GB for your own use.
Lenovo provides no recover discs or backups, so it's an hour to create the 3 Recover DVDs, then however long it takes to copy your system to an external HD using WIndows Backup.
Overall, expect 1-2 days to get rid of all the extra junk on the base system, make backups, and update Windows Updates to get to a clean, base system that you can start from.
i) Nothing wrong with the rest of the system thus far - seems nice and usb ports provide enough power for external 2.5" HDs.
Windows Media Center for Windows 8 Pro
People are activating free win8 + media center pack from microsoft.
Screen is too blue without color correction. On mine, color correction in control panels. First slide, move it up about 1/5 the distance to top with brightness on max. Skip brightness/contrast step. Last slider, bring blue down by about 1/4.
Far better color balance after. Use hdtv videos and photodisc test targets as samples to see before and after. Best done at night in dark room with a daylight color temp bulb in a lamp on the side.
Audio is still shrill with just dolby turned on and no options checked at times. May need to turn on the eq and bump up 125-1000hz by a notch for a touch fuller sound. You can still tell it's not going to win audiophile awards, but acceptable.
You can hear the fan going at night idle in normal mode-soft whosh that's not too disturbing, but you'l need to switch to silent mode to really drop it a notch more. You'll still hear it from a foot away.
01-02-2013 08:59 PM
Encoding a SD MPEG-2 movie to 1080 HD H264 through Sony Vegas Video 12 with GPU acceleration on and off results in essentially the same amount of time: about 1x real-time encoding speeds on the i5 CPU. Thus, those that want faster should look into the i7 CPU instead.
Noticeably, at least for the Sony Vegas Video H264 encoder, the quality of the CPU-only encode is better than the GPU accelerated encode.
CPU was about 60-65% loaded on CPU-only encode; about 20-25% on GPU encode (using the Intel HD 4000 Quicksync).
But none-the-less, faster than the 6-8x slower than real time encoding of a decade old Pentium 4 3.06Ghz CPU system.
Fan does speed up when the encode is underway, but it's nowhere as annoyingly loud as that on the 2006 Macbook Pro 15" (which sounds like an airplane engine)! Quite decent considering that you've got a ~35w TDP (45w+ at times) i5 CPU in there (Macbook Pro's also a 35w TDP CPU from 2006 era).
Comparing the screen vs. a decade old Toshiba 1130 and 2006 MacBook Pro 15" screen, the Toshiba is definitely inferior - very limited viewing range and mostly yellowish colors. Dull.
Macbook is better at viewing angles than all three, but the colors are more yellow than real-life (eg. HDTV scenes of a 8-9am overcast day results in the road and sky looking more like it was a nice, warm, sunny day instead). That's on the default gamma included by Apple. Switching over to SRGB and the like on the Macbook is just troublesome since it's obvious none are properly optimized or calibrated.
Lenovo Z580 is quite decent at times, so-so in others with the simple Windows Color Calibration. Clearly, hardware calibration might be necessary to bring out the best in this display, but it certainly has potential once you get it close to what it ought to be using the Windows Color Calibration. Colors certainly start looking closer to a quality IPS panel, but since I haven't yet spent the time or $ to calibrate it properly, even a Nook Tablet IPS panel beats the Z580 at this time.
(If anyone does have access and the know-how to create a hardware color calibration of the Z580 panel to post for everyone to use, that would be great!)
HD seems to copy things at about 30MB/sec or so. Not very fast but it's a slower 5400rpm Hitachi. Definitely something to spend less money on for a smaller HD that you'll immediately replace with a far faster 7200rpm HD or SSD once you get your hands on the Z580 and $.
That said, can't hear it running at the usual sitting distance in front of the laptop at night, so it's definitely a quiet drive.
Keyboard, when pressed just right, can be typed silently. However, simply clicking away on the keys will result in key noise that's louder than the 2006 Macbook Pro 15". Left and right mouse buttons are even louder.
In general, sad that in 2013, the major laptop makers can't seem to manufacture a silent notebook. Only Windows 8 tablet PCs like the latest Samsung Ativ with no physical keyboard or fan or HD can run 100% silent.
Use in libraries, next to babies, and in other quiet environments (eg. audio recording) will require special attention to typing quietly.
No idea why the lettering on the keycaps are not 100% Pure Bright White, if not backlit or glow-in-the-dark. Visibility in some light conditions can be a touch difficult due to the lettering.
Keypad is nice, but the 0 key is half the regular size to accommodate the right arrow key. Expect to make a LOT of Excel entry errors until you get used to this.
Same goes with a Delete key left of the HOME key. The delete key is about 2/3rds the regular size, so you can expect to hit one or the other by mistake quite often until you get used to this.
Space bar is a touch loose in feeling vs the other keys, though performing likely to spec, and is louder than the other keys when pressed, in general.
At least all of the keys on a normal keyboard appear to be present, so no issues otherwise.
Arrow keys are hard to locate by feel, esp. at night, due to the lack of empty landing space around them like the 2006 Macbook 15" layout. Just a bump on their upper edges.
No idea why the touch controls at the front allows control of the volume with one press, but not the screen brightness. You'd think it would be obvious. Esp. since one would naturally wish to change the brightness during the workday more often than let's say, the fan speed that's currently there.
Designer fail here! =(
At least you can assign corners of the touchpad to various things, and you can tap a corner to right-click (to avoid the loud click of the touchpad button), adjust volume, etc.
No way to turn off the backlight for these touch buttons either given how close they are to the screen at night. =(
(And who's dumb idea was it to backlight these mostly unused buttons vs the keyboard keys first?!? Or at least wire in a LED ThinkLight up top - I'm sure a LED light is far cheaper than a touch panel.)
DVD drive seems to work fine. Muted during DVD playback, but noticable, and generally burns fine. Appears this one's a LiteOn, so might be possible to RPC1 it (yes, there are people who buy and play DVDs from around the world). If nothing else, it should be an easy swap out for another slim drive (RPC1'd or BluRay burner even).
Hauppauge WinTV 950 USB TV tuner stick with WinTV 7 software records TV just fine. CPU usage is under 20% during use (depends on channel, recording or not, and video output options), and you can have it autoconvert the TS recordings to MPG.
But here again, since the Z580 master volume steps aren't fine enough, you sometimes need to crank up the Dolby panel settings in order to get to the higher volumes.
The glossy black bezel around the LCD panel is a bit dumb. Fingerprint magnet and simply reflects lights back into your eyes more than the glossy LCD panel itself! Wish it was matte like the rest of the laptop.
Not only that, because it's glossy, it's a dust magnet!! =[ =( /^^\ The bezel step down to the LCD panel is just so that you can expect to have a tough time cleaning out the dust bunnies completely. (Here's one case where they beveled the metal around the touchpad to make cleaning it free of dustbunnies easy, but they forgot to bevel the bezel!)
Just use MATTE BLACK PLASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dumb designers.
One panel access on the bottom is nice. But the fan vents are right where your left leg is when the laptop is placed on your lap. Thus, if the laptop starts overheating due to lack of venting, know that it's the dumb designer's fault.
Certainly having an intake off to the other side of the exhaust would be more logical.
Bottom does stay cooler than the 2006 Macbook Pro, which is like a hand warmer. Top does as well, so this is a good thing!
Headphone and Mic jacks on the right edge near the front is a good location. Not far back like those on the Macbook (which only begs, why place them so far back - only reduces the length of the available headphone cord length you've got).
Luckily, no sign of annoying headphone noise when volume is turned low or all the way down - this is an annoying point of the 2006 Macbook Pro (you can hear the system humming/buzzing with the headphones plugged in).
Plastic wrap that covered the bezel and hinges was a bit tough to get off. Seems they wrapped it all the way around the hinge from front to back, so you'll be yanking at it wondering how am I to get my finger into the hinge crevice to remove this film??
Simply yank it apart, then close the cover. Remove the rest from the back of the hinge. Again, silly design fail here =( Simply make it all in nice matte black and avoid the fingerprints, dust attraction, and film problems of a glossy surface.
The button-less cover closure is nice. Stays closed normally when carrying, etc. but opens by simply lifting the cover.
Nice there's 2 USB 3.0 ports, but why not make all 4 ports USB 3.0?!? Drives me nuts that I have to plug in my 3.0 drives into the left side, with the right side ports totally useless for fast transfers.
THERE IS A BIG REASON USB 3.0 PORTS ARE BACKWARDS COMPATIBLE!!!!!!!!!
IE. SO THERE'S NO NEED FOR USB 2.0 PORTS AT ALL!!!!!
Left side USB 3.0 ports are too close to the HDMI port, and nothing on top to indicate where they're located. Thus, you'll be accidentally trying to plug in that USB 3.0 device into the HDMI port until you tape a marker up top, or learn where it is. Doesn't happen with the right side USB 2.0 ports.
Battery lock and retention is easy enough to operate. Simple, logical. Can be operated one-handed.
BIG touchpad is nice given the SILLY offset of the entire keyboard and touchpad towards the left side of the system. Wish it was perfectly centered like the Macbook Pro or close to center like the Z380/Z480 keyboard/touchpad. But, it's not too bad of a reach given the size.
I'm sure there will be a lawsuit one day about physical disability resulting from non-centered keyboards/touchpads along OSHA/ergonomic recommendations and standards.
At least the surface is slicker than the 2006 Macbook touchpad, so it's less wear on your fingertips.
Overall, a solid 8 out of 10 rating thus far.
Marked down due to the poor sound subsystem, tough volume control adjustment, noisy keyboard and touchpad keys, backlighting the touchpanel before the keyboard, glossy bezel and LCD panel that requires color calibration to get something decent out of it.
Solid design and form-factor, good touchpad, enough USB ports, weight and balance otherwise.
01-04-2013 07:27 PM
01-24-2013 11:40 AM
Noticed an odd behaviour with the touchpad today in Firefox 18.0.1.
If I have my left hand on the spacebar to page down and do so, I can't move the cursor at all with the right hand using the touchpad! The cursor is 'stuck' in place until I stop pressing the spacebar.
If I plug in an external mouse and do the same with the left hand on the spacebar, there is no problem at all and I can move the cursor with the external mouse at the same time I'm page-ing down with the spacebar.
Clearly, a poor touchpad implementation.
02-01-2013 10:47 PM
Went into Microcenter today where they had a Z585 AMD model on display. Pretty much identical to my i5 powered Z580, but the keyboard touch was far lighter and better than that on my Z580!!
Clearly, the keyboard to get is the quieter, lighter, smoother Z585 keyboard if possible - even as a replacement, it's something I'd consider vs. the Z580 keyboard, which I've found to miss characters now and then - enough so to be slightly annoying. It's definitely a minus when you press w or a many times and it simply doesn't register.
I'd highly prefer the Z585 keyboard version since it's the better keyboard.
02-27-2013 12:01 PM
Installed the very nice MXS matte screen sheet from Photodon.com to cut down on the horrendous glare from the glossy LCD panel and guess what???.... Works well for the LCD panel, but then I realized some IDIOT DESIGNER made the entire bezel out of glossy black plastic!?!? WTH?!?! >.<
Must now get them to cut a custom bezel sheet.
Apple designers that started this whole glossy like glass mess - I hate you all!!!! My eyeballs hurt >.<
As for Lenovo, at least put in a better antireflective coating on these glossy panels! There are lots of better ones out there and the cheap stuff is just horrible! I see glare and reflections all day long.
04-29-2013 08:00 PM
With the battery charging on 'battery conserving' 60% max charge setting, the runtime is only 1 1/2 hours with brightness between 50-66%, wifi on, and surfing the internet with downloads (whether files or streaming). This is with the power settings to allow for wifi power to be lowered, etc.
The windows battery monitor fails to consistently predict how much runtime it has, so you'll suddenly be left without enough runtime. BatteryBar is better and more accurately predicts the expected runtime.
Naturally, for a full 100% charge, it predicts about a 2:30 hour runtime. So, despite what Lenovo may toot regarding 5 hour runtimes, expect reality to be 1 1/2- 2 1/2 hours at most under light loads.
I've noticed that if you do anything that uses the CPU, even quicksync encodes or YouTube/MP4 playback, runtimes can easily drop to 1 hour or less on a 60%charge.
You can expect it to use about 8000-10,000mW / hr as a dischage rate under light usage.
05-21-2013 06:59 PM
BatteryBar 3.5.5 is the solution to the inaccurate Windows 7 battery meter. Free and works very nicely in determining approximate runtimes remaining on battery. Recommended.
It also shows the current mW usage and what's surprising is the built-in Bluetooth module consumes a LOT more power than expected (2000mW+ or so in use), more than what the WiFi module uses. (eg. Bluetooth might use 10,200mW/hr vs 9200 for Wifi - varies depending on brightness, tasks, downloads, etc)
As a result, using Bluetooth tethering on batteries significantly reduces runtimes. Sad.