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Lenovo U160 review

Barry de la Rosa
9 Mar 2011
Lenovo U160
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
388
inc VAT

Around the same size and price as a netbook, but more powerful and with a higher screen resolution – an excellent budget choice.

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Specifications

11.6 in 1,366x768 display, 1.4kg, 1.06GHz Intel Celeron U3400, 2.00GB RAM, 320GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit

With a 1GHz Celeron processor and just 2GB RAM, this isn’t the kind of laptop that will set pulses racing. Its price and weight are two low figures that are more attractive, though. After using it for a while, we found ourselves growing to like it despite its shortcomings.

With an 11.6in screen, the U160 is about the size of a netbook, and at 1.4kg it's just as light. It doesn't have the low screen resolution of most netbooks, though; 1,366x768 is the same resolution as most 15in laptops, and it gives plenty of space for office documents and busy web pages. It's also ideal for watching HD video. The screen’s 16:9 aspect ratio reduces the size of the black bars above and below widescreen video that appear on netbooks’ 1024x600-pixel screens.

Squeezing such a high resolution into a small space means that each pixel is smaller, making images pin-sharp, although it also makes text quite small. Colour accuracy isn't spectacular: the LED backlight is slightly uneven and the glossy finish and tight viewing angles mean we had to adjust the screen's tilt carefully or else contrast was ruined. Once we’d done so, colours were quite vibrant and accurate.

The dual-core Celeron U3400 processor is based on the Intel Core design but it runs at a slower 1GHz – hence the lower benchmark scores compared to Core i3 chips. However, its overall score of 36 is almost twice the performance of a netbook. Its best result was 46 in our image-editing test, which doesn’t benefit from multiple processors. That’s true of most office and entertainment software, too – given a single task to handle, the U160 should be able to keep up. The integrated graphics chipset can decode HD video but it's not powerful enough to run demanding 3D games.

Lenovo U160

Visually, the U160 is stunning. Its dark brown case sandwiches a white interior, and the lid has a smart etched pattern. Opening the lid reveals a white keyboard panel and a glossy black bezel surrounding the screen. The keys are an odd shape but their slightly concave surfaces make them comfortable to type on, while their crisp, light action gives plenty of feedback for touch-typists.

Other than placing the Fn key in the bottom left corner where the Ctrl key should be, Lenovo has stuck to a fairly standard layout, including a double-height Enter key. Below is a small but responsive touchpad, with two separate, light-action buttons. There's a small, fiddly switch to toggle WiFi and Bluetooth, and a standard complement of expansion ports. One welcome exception is the inclusion of a shared eSATA/USB port, which is useful for adding a fast eSATA external drive.

It may not be screamingly fast or packed with the latest features, but the U160 is light, lasts for over six hours per charge and costs little more than most netbooks. The 11.6in screen may be a bit cramped for some people, and those using demanding applications such as photo or video editing will be frustrated by its basic performance, but for web browsing on the move it's a great little laptop. It’s worth considering the pricier Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11 for its superior performance and battery life, though.

Basic Specifications

Rating****
ProcessorIntel Celeron U3400
Processor clock speed1.06GHz
Memory2.00GB
Memory slots1
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory4GB
Size35x290x193mm
Weight1.4kg
SoundRealtek HD Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad

Display

Viewable size11.6 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorIntel HD Graphics
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory64MB

Storage

Total storage capacity320GB
Optical drive typenone

Ports and Expansion

USB ports3
Bluetoothyes
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11b/g
PC Card slotsnone
Supported memory cardsSDHC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro, xD
Other portseSATA (shared with USB socket), minijack audio output, minijack microphone input

Miscellaneous

Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 32-bit
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includedMicrosoft Office Starter 2010
Optional extras£55

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£388
Detailswww.lenovo.co.uk
Supplierhttp://www.digital-fusion.co.uk