Fan noise is noticeable. Even under standard operation it is constantly on with a slight whirring noise evident in quiet or semi-quiet environments. To make matters worse, the left palm rest gets warm. Not hot, but definitely warm. The right side remains absolutely cool. I found it distracting when typing. Others, however, felt it was a non-issue, saying they didn’t even notice. So it may be a matter of personal preference (or sensitivity!).
The Wireless-N reception was strong, providing 4 or 5 bars throughout our labs and outdoors. The signal never dropped, and resumed in a snap when waking the U350 from sleep.
We also installed Windows 7 RC with no issues. All drivers worked, and the performance was zippy and pleasant. One nice bonus with the U350: you will be eligible for the upcoming Windows 7 upgrade.
The power adapter included for some reason is full size. Why? The S12 ships with one that is approximately 60% smaller which also works with the U350.
For a first generation CULV-based laptop, the Lenovo U350 delivers on most counts. For much less money than a full-on 13″ ultra-portable, you get decent power and battery life, a nice display and a thin chassis that is very portable (although still wider than a T60p 14″). I’d give it 5 stars, if it wasn’t for the three issues I’ve mentioned: fan noise, heat on left palm-rest, and keyboard compromises. Otherwise, give this one a strong look.
- Lenovo quality control is something to watch; Lenovo has a sterling reputation, the gold-standard, but as they move into lower priced products, will quality suffer?
- For example, the S12 has a “battery wiggle” issue on our test unit (it does not lock firmly in place); the U350 tested here has a few issues mentioned in the review plus the lid doesn’t latch and can also wiggle slightly when carried
- The Lenovo S12 feels like a premium netbook; the U350 feels like a budget thin-and-light ultraportable
- Watch for discounts and coupons; Lenovo like others are aggressively pricing these laptops turning a good value into an amazing deal
- If you’re thinking about buying a Lenovo U350, other models to consider include the Acer Timeline 3810 and HP DV2z
Windows Vista Home Premium – Windows Experience Index
Gaming graphics 3.4
Primary hard disk 5.6
Windows 7 – Windows Experience Index
Gaming graphics 3.3
Primary hard disk 5.6