Lenovo – IdeaPad U350 review

low cost, slimline notebook with good battery life
Photo of Lenovo – IdeaPad U350
from £399

Lenovo is probably best known for its business machines. But the U350 is designed to attract consumers, and it has some nice specifications to help it along, not least of which is a small and light chassis.

Weighing just under 1.6kg, the IdeaPad U350 is light enough for most people to carry around regularly, and the 13.3-inch screen delivers at the increasingly popular 1366 x 760 pixel resolution, making it a good widescreen choice. An ambient light sensor can be used so that the screen’s brightness adjusts depending on surrounding lighting conditions.

The lid section has a diamond shaped patterning which will appeal to some and turn others off. It’s your call, really, as this is a subjective matter. What is undeniably good is the overall build quality which is solid, and the high quality keyboard which, importantly, felt robust enough under our fingers for extended typing with comfort.

The touchpad even incorporates some multitouch features alongside horizontal and vertical scrolling: you can pinch to zoom when viewing images. It is not a unique feature, but still quite rare, and it is nice to see it make an appearance here.

The operating system, Windows Vista Home Premium, and the lack of an optical drive are not the finest points of this notebook. Indeed the absence of an optical drive might seem like a vital omission to anyone who likes to watch movies from DVD while on the move.

The Ultra Low Voltage processor means that battery life is quite good. The default 4-cell battery manages 5 hours according to Lenovo, while an optional 8-cell battery will give you up to ten hours. Allowing for the usual difference between anticipated and real-life conditions, you should still get a fair amount of computing time between charges on the default smaller battery.

The processor is single core: this, in conjunction with integrated graphics, may mean the notebook is not up to some of the more demanding tasks you might want it to perform. There is a web-cam and you can use this for the usual video conferencing as well as with the provided VeriFace software for face recognition login.

The hard drive is shock protected. At its Web site Lenovo is citing a 160GB drive as the default, though our review sample had a 250GB drive and we’ve seen options up to 320GB from web-based vendors.

Company: Lenovo

Contact: 0844 800 0550

There are some crucial disappointments, the most important being the lack of an optical drive, but if you can live without that and want something a bit more powerful than a netbook, then the IdeaPad U350 could be worth a look.