Lenovo IdeaPad U410 Touch review
When we looked at Lenovo's IdeaPad U410 last year, it impressed us by offering an Ultrabook with dedicated graphics at a great price. The IdeaPad U410 Touch is an updated model of Lenovo's flagship ultraportable, and comes with a ten-point touchscreen alongside a few minor changes to its underlying components.
At 2kg, it’s a little heavy compared to other Ultrabooks, but it borrows the same stylish design as the original U410 and its largely metal chassis feels sturdy and well-made. Rather than opting for a wedge design like other manufacturers, it has a uniform thickness of 21mm from front to back. There were a few noticeable weak points, though, as we noticed a considerable amount of flex in the keyboard tray when typing. This is a problem we've seen on several of Lenovo's laptops, the original U410 included and, while it didn’t affect how we used the U410 Touch, it was still a little disappointing.
SPECS AND SPEED
Luckily, we found this fairly easy to overlook considering the rest of the U410 Touch’s merits, particularly the 2GB Nvidia GeForce 710M graphics chip. This is one of Nvidia’s newer chips and it managed an impressive 31.6fps in our Dirt Showdown test at a 1,280x720 resolution with graphics quality set to High. This matches the frame rate we saw on the more expensive award-winning Samsung Series 7 Ultra 730U3E, and increasing the resolution to the U410 Touch's native 1,366x768 saw a drop to only 27.9fps on the same settings.
It didn’t do too badly in our more demanding Crysis 2 test, either. The U410 Touch failed the test at a 1,366x768 resolution with Ultra quality graphics, but lowering the settings to High produced an impressive 29fps. At a resolution of 1,280x720 and with High graphics quality, it produced an average frame of 30.9fps. This is an excellent frame rate for a non-gaming laptop, especially an Ultrabook that retails at just over £700.
For everyday tasks, its 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U processor and 4GB of RAM also provide plenty of power. It scored 43 in our multimedia benchmarks, which is a few points behind other laptops we’ve tested with this processor, but it supports multi-threading, can turbo boost to 2.7GHz and is plenty fast enough for everyday tasks, such as web browsing and word processing.
Unfortunately its 14in touchscreen display is quite average compared to other touchscreen laptops we’ve seen and hasn't really improved since the original U410. Colours were bright and vibrant, but reds, greens and blues lacked depth and richness. Our solid black images also revealed that the top and bottom of the screen were noticeably lighter than the middle of the display, and adjusting the screen’s viewing angle did very little to help achieve a more uniform image.
Whites were also a little on the grey side, but its contrast levels were a little better. We were able to see a good level of detail in all of our high contrast test photos, but colours were admittedly quite on the cool side compared to our reference screen. We were also a little disappointed to see that the U410 Touch only had a standard 1,366x768 resolution, particularly considering how many Ultrabooks have either 1,920x1,080- or 1,600x900-resolution screens, such as the Samsung Series 7 Ultra.
INPUT AND PORTS
We liked its keyboard a lot more. Keys were bouncy and well-spaced and the flex in the keyboard tray didn’t affect our ability to type whatsoever. Its large all-in-one touchpad was also very accurate and responsive, and we could navigate through the desktop with ease. Windows 8 shortcuts and multitouch gestures such as two-finger scrolling were simple to use as well.
The U410 Touch has a good range of connection ports for an Ultrabook, too, but once again little has changed from its predecessor. There are two USB2 and two USB3 ports, an SD and MMC card reader, an HDMI video output for connecting it up to an external display, a combined headphone and microphone jack and a Fast Ethernet port.
Its battery life was a little more average, as it lasted 6 hours and 15 minutes in our light use test with the screen set to half brightness. This is what we’d normally expect to see from an Ultrabook, but it pales in comparison to the near 8 hours we managed to squeeze out of the Samsung Series 7 Ultra.
The Lenovo IdeaPad U410 Touch is a well-made touchscreen laptop, but we think its screen could be better. You won’t find many other Ultrabooks with a dedicated graphics chip for just over £700, so if you want a slim gaming laptop and your budget doesn’t quite stretch to the Samsung Series 7 Ultra, the Lenovo IdeaPad U410 Touch is well worth a look.
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