Lenovo's sleek and cheap IdeaPad U350 has a quality display and keyboard but is let down by creaky build quality and uninspiring battery life.
13.3 in 1,366×768 display, 1.6kg, 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500, 4.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows Vista Home Premium
Lenovo’s IdeaPad may be one of the cheapest ultra-portables here, but it’s also one of the most attractive thanks to the dark brown lid and black and bronze coloured case.
However, the plastic case doesn’t feel nearly as sturdy as most of Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptops.
The keyboard is one of the best here. The keys are large and give just the right amount of feedback when pressed. Some punctuation keys are narrower than others, and the Ctrl and Fn keys have switched positions, but these are all changes that are easy to get used to. Unfortunately, although the touchpad is large it feels jittery and inaccurate, while the buttons feel too spongy.
The IdeaPad’s 1.6kg weight makes it ideal for carrying around, but we were underwhelmed by the battery life of just over four-and-a-half hours. Although this is more than long enough for most short-haul flights, it pales in comparison to the Acer’s TravelMate Timeline, which lasts four hours longer.
We expected the IdeaPad to last longer in our battery test since it’s equipped with the single-core 1.4GHz ultra-low voltage Core 2 Solo SU3500 processor. Paired with 4GB of RAM, it fared well in our image-editing test but couldn’t keep up with the dual-core laptops in our video encoding and multitasking tests. The integrated Intel GMA 4500M HD graphics chip is no good for games, but the 320GB hard disk is generously large at this price.
Unusually for a Lenovo laptop, the 13.3.in, 1,366×768-resolution widescreen display has a glossy instead of a matt finish. It’s quite reflective under overhead lighting, which can be distracting, but it’s very bright with wide viewing angles and good colour accuracy. It’s one of the best-looking displays we’ve seen on an ultra-portable laptop.
The idea of a Lenovo ultra-portable for just over £500 is undoubtedly attractive. It’s not a bad laptop if you’re on a tight budget, but if you can afford more, Acer’s TravelMate Timeline is faster and has better battery life.
|Processor||Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500|
|Processor clock speed||1.4GHz|
|Memory slots free||0|
|Power consumption standby||1W|
|Power consumption idle||10W|
|Power consumption active||20W|
|Viewable size||13.3 in|
|Graphics Processor||Intel GMA 4500M|
|Graphics/video ports||HDMI, VGA|
|Total storage capacity||320GB|
|Optical drive model||none|
|Optical drive type||N/A|
Ports and Expansion
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100/1000|
|Wireless networking support||802.11a/n|
|PC Card slots||none|
|Supported memory cards||SDHC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro/Duo|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Home Premium|
|Operating system restore option||restore partition|
|Optional extras||spare power adapter £26, two year extended warranty £24, two year extended warranty with ADP £52, three year extended warranty £64, three year extended warranty with ADP £106|
|Warranty||one year collect and return|