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?