In Review

Lenovo IdeaPad U350 13.3" laptop

3 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars - 'Worth a Look'
PROS
+
Competitive price. CULV processor performance better than Atom with decent battery life. Svelte design, less than 1" thick. Quality keyboard. Bright LED display. Great speakers.
CONS
Fan noise. Heat on left palm rest. Keyboard layout compromises.
VERDICT:
"Worth a Look"
Lenovo's first CULV is almost a home run, offers incredible bang for the buck, vibrant screen, decent performance, slim design. But suffers from minor quality control issues. Still a strong contender.
Review by Clinton Stark

The Synaptics trackpad is spacious with a textured finish that I found comfortable for controlling pointer movement. The two buttons below are also very much to my liking with just the right amount of response and lack of “clackiness”. It also offers multitouch capability allowing you to pinch to zoom, for example. I use it sparingly, but it does work.

The speakers, located at the front-bottom, are loud, clear with a surprising amount of bass. Adjust the settings with the included Dolby software and you can get a surprisingly decent surround effect.

Battery life was average. With the included 4-cell we were getting about 4-hours on a charge with screen about 70% brightness and performing standard office work, and surfing. The video stream test though drained it in about 2.5 hours. I understand an optional 6-cell will be offered from Lenovo which will likely double these numbers. With screen dimmed, and minimal video, I would expect to get closer to 5-hours, but we will continue to test. The battery does charge quickly, providing a full charge in about 90-120 minutes. The battery itself, located on the bottom, sits flush with case.

Performance wise, you will not mistake this laptop for a more expensive Dual Core model, but it does perform all functions noticeably faster than the N270/N280 Atom. On side-by-side comparisons, again with the smaller Lenovo S12, web pages loaded faster, videos played smoother, and the overall experience was closer to a normal notebook. Speaking of video, we tested 720p YouTube video. It played with no issues at regular size. At full-screen, it was a mixed bag. Sometimes video played well, other times, it hiccups here and there, but then seems to catch up. For the most part though, the SU2700 chip provides enough gusto to stream video with decent performance. If you need flawless full-screen HD streaming, the U350 is probably not your best choice. Wouldn’t it be nice though if there was a NVIDIA option?