Lenovo cites 'missteps' on the new LaVie Z laptop

Confusion over capabilities leads the company to offer discounts to some buyers of its high-profile convertible laptop/tablet

Last updated: May 11, 2015 03:55 PM

Lenovo LaVie Z 360

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.

Update: May 11, 2015:

Lenovo has now gotten back to us, saying that the LaVie Z 360 was never supposed to operate in tent and stand modes. The company apologized for promoting it incorrectly on its website. (The new statement says that the first letter we received "did not clearly describe the situation.") According to the company, the keyboard does deactivate when the machine is used in tablet mode, and once we get it into our lab, we'll test that and all of its other features. Here's the text of Lenovo's response.

Thanks for reaching out to us.

We truly apologize for the confusion regarding our LaVie Z 360 product.  This product was never designed to be a multimode product with tent and stand modes functionality.  LaVie Z 360 is a 2-in-1 PC and tablet device, featuring both laptop and tablet modes only. When the product was first published on our website, the product information was incorrect and as soon as we caught the mistake we fixed it.  You were among the very small group of customers who purchased the product during this timeframe and once we realized our mistake, we sent a letter that you received.  However, the letter did not clearly describe the situation and for that we apologize.

For those customers who are not satisfied with this device, we offer a standard return policy of 30 days for a full refund.

We are re-examining our processes to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.  In the meantime, please accept our apologies for this inconvenience.

—Donna Tapellini

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