New Mini Laptop – Lenovo IdeaPad U310
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Call it an ultrabook, a mini laptop or a slim notebook, the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 is a fine example of the fact that laptops in this category are getting cheaper. When it comes down to the design of the U310, we have nothing but nice words to say about Lenovo’s designers as the Aqua Blue lid made from aluminum looks exceptional and feels very solid. In its top right corner you’ll notice the company’s diamond-cut chrome logo which is raised a little bit above the surface. It is important to mention that this model is also available in Graphite Grey and Cherry Blossom finishes.
Open the U310 and you will immediately notice the matte eggshell white plastic which is extended on both of the ultrabook’s sides. It measures 13.1 x 8.8 x 0.7 inches and weighs 3.4 pounds which puts it somewhere in the middle of the ultrabook pack. We do appreciate its slim profile as the U310 has a thickness of just 0.7 inches.
Lenovo has fitted this model with a 13.3-inch display that has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels (720p) which manages to provide a sharp-looking text which makes reading an easy thing to do. We were however disappointed to find out that this screen measures only 148 lux so it’s not very bright, while the 45-degree viewing angles are another major drawback which frankly shouldn’t be an issue among these ultrabooks as such products are considered as being more premium.
The speakers of the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 are enhanced by the Dolby Home Theater v4 technology but these are not powerful enough to fill a large room, but at least the sound coming out of the speakers is clear, while the optimized presets such as Games, Movies and Music, along with the custom ones are a nice addition.
Perhaps one of the best features of this ultrabook would have to be the chiclet-style AccuType keyboard that manages to offer a superb typing experience. This keyboard comes with the company’s traditional smile-shaped keys that have plenty of room between one another, while the feedback provided is quite springy. Our main concern about this keyboard has to do with the Backspace and the Right Shift keys which could have been a little bit larger. You will notice a minimal amount of flex but this won’t be an issue and it will not have a negative effect while you are typing on the keyboard.
Underneath that comfy keyboard is the Synaptics touchpad which measures 4.1 x 2.75 inches so it’s safe to say that it is quite large. It is wearing a silky smooth glass surface which improves usability when performing multitouch gestures, such as two-finger scroll, pinch-to-zoom, three-finger flick or even four-finger flick. However, we should mention that doing a two-finger rotation is a little bit tricky.
Let’s move on with our Lenovo IdeaPad U310 review and have a look at the ports this ultrabook has to offer. On the right spine you will have access to the headphone and microphone combo jack, a USB 2.0 port, as well as the jack for the AC adapter. On the left front lip is the SD card slot, while the left side holds the Ethernet port, HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, as well as a button for the company’s One Key Recovery service.
At the heart of this Lenovo ultrabook is a third-generation, Ivy Bridge-based Intel Core i5-3317U processor clocked at 1.70 GHz which works together with 4GB of DDR3 RAM. The graphics power is provided by the integrated Intel HD 4000 with shared system memory, while in the storage department it comes with a 500GB Serial Ata hard drive spinning at 5,400 rpm and a 32GB solid state drive.
Thanks to these hardware components, the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 is capable of scoring no less than 3,840 if tested in PCMark 07, which is a lot more than the average for ultrabooks. It needs approximately half a minute to boot Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit version) which although it is quite quick, there are several ultrabooks on the market today that can boot the OS a lot faster than this.
Despite the fact that the aforementioned Intel HD 4000 graphics chip is way more powerful than the previous HD 3000, let’s not forget that this still is an integrated graphics solution so it’s not suitable for playing demanding video games. However, it will suffice for some light and casual gaming, as well as streaming high definition video content from the ultrabook to an HDTV. In 3DMark 06 it scores almost 4,000 points which is slightly above the average in this category, but still considerably less than those models that come with a dedicated video card, such as the new Dell Inspiron 14z which can score more than 6,000 points thanks to its AMD Radeon HD 7570M dedicated GPU.
If you enjoy playing World of Warcraft, you’ll be happy to hear that the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 can play this game at 39 FPS at the ultrabook’s native screen resolution, while at full graphics settings it can play WoW at 15 FPS.
When it comes down to the battery performance, the ultrabook is capable of lasting for almost five and a half hours in LAPTOP Battery Test which although might be a little bit less than the average in this segment, it still remains a solid performance for such a system.
The version we’ve talked about will set you back $799 while for $50 less you can get the same specs except for the CPU which in this case is a slower Intel Core i3-3217U. We almost forgot to mention that this ultrabook comes with the Pressure Graph application which is capable of displaying how hard you press the touchpad through red dots and lines that have various thicknesses. Also on board is the MoodPad application for the touchpad which cues up a black panel that can modify its color from black to bright yellow, depending on how fast you stroke on the ultrabook’s touchpad.
All things considered, the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 is a great looking ultrabook that comes at an affordable price tag and manages to deliver Ivy Bridge performance. However, the display is not as bright as we would have hoped while the battery life is on the average side.