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Lenovo IdeaPad U350 review

Alan Lu
13 Oct 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
523
inc VAT

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.

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Specifications

13.3 in 1,366x768 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, 1,366x768-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.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Solo SU3500
Processor clock speed1.4GHz
Memory4.00GB
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory4GB
Size30x329x226mm
Weight1.6kg
SoundConexant Pebble
Pointing devicetouchpad
Power consumption standby1W
Power consumption idle10W
Power consumption active20W

Display

Viewable size13.3 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorIntel GMA 4500M
Graphics/video portsHDMI, VGA
Graphics Memory128MB

Storage

Total storage capacity320GB
Optical drive modelnone
Optical drive typeN/A

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11a/n
PC Card slotsnone
ModemNo
Supported memory cardsSDHC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro/Duo
Other portsnone

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows Vista Home Premium
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includednone
Optional extrasspare 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

Buying Information

Warrantyone year collect and return
Price£523
Detailswww.lenovo.co.uk
Supplierhttp://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop