Lenovo IdeaPad U310 Ultrabook: Ivy Bridge on a budget (review)

Lenovo IdeaPad U310 Ultrabook: Ivy Bridge on a budget (review)

Summary: The Lenovo IdeaPad U310 is a solid Ultrabook thanks to the new Ivy Bridge processor.

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TOPICS: Lenovo
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The Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks are being announced right and left, and the IdeaPad U310 is good for those on a budget. The U310 is a thin (0.7"), light (3.75 lbs.) laptop that with a reasonable configuration is only $799.

The IdeaPad product line is aimed at the mainstream consumer while Lenovo's ThinkPad line at the prosumer. Even with a reasonable price, the U310 has a lot of thoughtful design choices that don't make it seem like a budget laptop.

The unit as reviewed is not the base level configuration:

  • Processor: Intel Ivy Bridge; Core i5-3317U, 1.7 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB
  • Storage: 500 GB HDD
  • Display: 13.3-inch, 1366x768
  • Graphics: Intel GMA HD 4000
  • Ports: 2-USB 3.0, audio in/out, HDMI, SD/MMC slot, Ethernet
  • Wireless: Wi-Fi (b/g/n), note: no Bluetooth as reviewed but available
  • Camera: 1MP (720 HD capable) front
  • Battery: 3-cell sealed, 46 Wh, up to 7 hours
  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium

Lenovo is known for its keyboards and the U310 chiclet model is pretty good. It is not as good as recent ThinkPad keyboards, but provides a decent typing experience. The large glass clickpad is quite good and is buttonless, which is becoming the standard. It handles full multi-touch and Lenovo has incorporated palm rejection to keep the clickpad from erroneous action while typing.

This clickpad is as good as those found on any laptops, as Lenovo has gotten them down. Some early Lenovo laptops had terrible touchpads, but the last few I have tried have been quite good. The 5-finger multitouch is well implemented, and the palm rejection works as expected.

The Ivy Bridge processor is not super fast, but it is more than fast enough for most tasks. The system keeps things moving along nicely, even with multiple apps running.

Lenovo claims up to 7 hours of battery life on a charge, and my usage shows I can get nearly that. The very small power brick is a nice touch for frequent travelers.

The IdeaPad U310 is a solid choice for those looking for a reasonably priced Ultrabook. It has all of the criteria one expects from an Ultrabook in a highly portable form. As is usually the case with thin laptops, there is no integrated optical drive. Lenovo has an optional external drive for those needing the capability.

After using the U310 for a day I could easily recommend this laptop as a good value. The design is quite nice and the attention to usability detail is up to Lenovo's standards. The review unit is a nice blue color, and the U310 is also available in gray and "cherry blossom".

See related: First peek at Intel’s Ivy Bridge chips for upcoming Ultrabooks | Free Wi-Fi could boost Ultrabooks in business laptop market | Mac, PC solid state drives aren’t compatible | Quick look at the Lenovo ThinkPad X230 (hands-on) | AMD’s ‘Trinity’ challenge to Intel’s Ivy Bridge: Will it convince OEMs?

Topic: Lenovo

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12 comments
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  • Was there an overproduction of 13in glossy screen 1366x768?

    They are found on almost every laptop. Additionally, can you please indicate if the user can increase RAM to 8 GB? Thanks.
    RelaxWalk
    • Regarding 1366x768

      As much as I hate this resolution - especially on panels larger than 13.3 - I have to say that a 1366x768 native panel with a 640M is a really good pairing for those of us wanting to casually game on something that doesn't weigh a ton. There are a few good models listed at http://www.squidoo.com/ivy-bridge-ultrabook
      Ravi Victor
  • Ultrabook?

    I thought Intel required that Ultrabooks have at least a small SSD. Does this laptop? Then should it really be an Ultrabook?
    jglopic
    • technically yes

      technically yes, but even Intel doesn't seem to care and advertises Ultrabooks that can come with HDDs
      doh123
      • wrong

        every ultrabook has to have an SSD in it. it doesn't matter which size it is, so there are a lot ultrabooks with a small SSD (with the os) and a large HD.
        ssc-hrep
  • Review?

    A bit more detail would be appreciated
    Nihon8888
  • $800 for a 13 inch pie cutter??? - don't think so! (nt)

    :)
    .
    wessonjoem
  • Too Bad Screen Resolution is Sub-par

    At 1366 x 768 for a 13" laptop, the screen resolution just doesn't cut it. This is the same resolution that laptops have been using for way too many years. If you are using this as your only device and want mutiple windows open on your screen at once look for 1440 x 900 or 1600 x 900 resolutions as the way to go.
    jdohare
    • I disagree...

      I've used a 1280x800 resolution on my lenovo tablet (my main development computer) for years and it has been just fine (and my eyes aren't even that good). When at home base, a second monitor is - of course - a necessity, but you must realize what compromises have been made for this puppy; this is a light, small, portable device for when you have to go mobile. IMHO, you cannot sit across a conference table from a client and open a big screen in their face.
      batpox
  • Is it upgradable?

    Looks pretty good, i wish it had a SSD though. Is it upgradable?
    Frenz9
    • Is it upgradable?

      I bought my in September and it came with a 24GB SSD Drive.

      I upgraded the memory to 8GB, but it has only one slot so you'll end up with the original RAM as surplus - not a big deal.

      I'm not as happy with the touchpad. It's too sensitive and the cursor jumps around sometimes. I've looked for a way to control the sensitivity, but can't find a setting. Does anyone know a way?
      Jiminy16
      • Memeory Upgrade

        Jiminy,

        I'm thinking about buying one of these as the price has continued to fall. But I really would want to upgrade the memory... Sounds like you already did? I've build many PC's over the years and even upgraded the memory in a laptop and a netbook before. How difficult was it? How do you like the Lenovo now? Thanks!
        Gorgerax