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

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.

Talking points

  • 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

Overall 3.3
Processor 3.3
Memory 4.9
Graphics 3.4
Gaming graphics 3.4
Primary hard disk 5.6

Windows 7 – Windows Experience Index

Overall 2.9
Processor 2.9
Memory 4.9
Graphics 3.4
Gaming graphics 3.3
Primary hard disk 5.6