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Lenovo IdeaPad U450p review

Barry de la Rosa
12 Mar 2010
Lenovo IdeaPad U450p
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
576
inc VAT

A curious mix of compact design, DVD drive and dedicated graphics, the U450p is a jack of all trades - but master of none.

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Specifications

14 in 1,366x768 display, 2.0kg, 1.3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300, 4.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit

Lenovo's new IdeaPad U450p is a slimline laptop with a funky textured pattern on the lid and keyboard panel. The styling, while it may be a bit busy for some people, is certainly eye-catching and build quality feels excellent. At 2kg it's just at the limit of our definition of an ultra-portable. A battery life of four and a half hours is disappointing for a laptop with an ultra-low voltage (CULV) processor, but understandable if you consider that there's a dedicated graphics card, which draws more power than the integrated chips found in all the CULV laptops we've seen to date.

Its fluorescent backlight is also less power efficient than the LED variety, and means the screen is dimmer than many models we've seen recently. Colours are rich and natural but contrast is below par, and the glossy finish on the screen attracts reflections from overhead lights. Tight vertical viewing angles exacerbate this, as you can't always place the screen at the best angle.

A dedicated graphics chip is an unusual inclusion in an ultra-portable. The ATI HD 4330 card isn't very fast though, scoring 15.2fps in Call of Duty 4. Turning the resolution down to 1,024x768 and turning off anti-aliasing helped it to a barely playable 24.7fps. It won't run the latest action games at playable frame rates, but the U450p is capable of running older games and more sedate genres, such as role-playing and adventure titles.

The dedicated graphics card can also be used to speed up video encoding and some image editing software, but the CULV processor isn't built for speed and only managed an overall score of 43 in our benchmarks. This makes it twice as powerful as a netbook, and it's more at ease coping with multiple open programs thanks to its dual cores, but it's not best suited for multimedia editing or heavy calculations.

The keyboard has a wonderfully light action, with a crisp cut-off point at the top of the keystroke that gives superb feedback. The touchpad is good too, and although not as large as some, we found it responsive and smooth. It has two large, separate buttons with a light action and a decent amount of travel. There are also some small, metallic buttons on the right side of the keyboard that control volume, and a small button above the power button that lets you boot into Lenovo's OneKey backup and recovery software.

The U450p is a cute little laptop that's light enough to travel with you, but lacks the long battery life of a decent netbook or many other ultra-portables. The fact is, with its dedicated graphics chip and built-in DVD drive, it's not a typical ultra-portable but more a compact general purpose laptop. If you're looking for a small but capable laptop, though, then this could fit the bill.

Basic Specifications

Rating***
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo SU7300
Processor clock speed1.3GHz
Memory4.00GB
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory4GB
Size34x340x238mm
Weight2.0kg
SoundRealtek High Definition Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size14 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory512MB

Storage

Total storage capacity500GB
Optical drive modelTSSTcorp TS-U633A
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW -DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11n
PC Card slotsnone
ModemNo
Supported memory cardsSD
Other portsminijack audio output, minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includedCyberlink Power2Go 5, Dolby Sound Room

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£576
Detailswww.lenovo.co.uk
Supplierhttp://www.ilgs.co.uk