For a while there, the march of Ultrabooks was comprised almost entirely of halo products: skinny, relatively expensive things designed to help Intel and its OEM partners make a good impression on the general laptop-buying public. But with 110-plus models in the pipeline, they can’t all be expensive, right? By now, you may have noticed that Ultrabooks are starting to look a little less uniform: there have been larger ones, heavier ones, some with optical drives, some with discrete graphics.
Next up: cheaper ones. Just in time for back-to-school shopping season, we’re seeing a wave of more reasonably priced Ultrabooks, many of them with traditional spinning hard drives and slightly heavier frames. One of these is the Lenovo IdeaPad U310, a machine that brings Core i5, 4GB of RAM and hybrid storage for $799. Oh, and its design is pleasantly reminiscent of the IdeaPad U300s, a higher-end Ultrabook we reviewed late last year. No doubt, then, it’ll be a tempting option for people who can’t afford to spend $1,000-plus on a laptop. But is it worth it? Let’s find out.
Look and feel
With a name like the U310, you might expect this guy to be a modified version of the U300 we reviewed last year. And you’d be mostly right. Like the U300s, the U310 isn’t so much wedge-shaped as book-inspired. The chassis is evenly thick throughout (about 0.7 inches) and the sides have some subtle scooping, making the closed laptop look like a bound book with pages stuffed between the two covers. Is there any ergonomic benefit to that? Surprisingly, yes: the fact that the lid protrudes slightly when shut makes the notebook especially easy to open.
Other details have carried over from the U300s, too. There’s the spun metal power button, for one, which glows white when the machine is powered on. The bottom side is also fairly clean, save for a vent stretching across it. Four rubbery feet help protect that metal surface from nicks and scratches.
The big difference is in the build quality. While the U300s is fashioned out of a single piece of aluminum, the U310 makes do with a metal lid and bottom cover, with plastic coating the bezel and keyboard deck. (As if to emphasize the difference in target audience, the U310 is offered in a less serious color palette, including “Cherry Blossom Pink,” “Aqua Blue” and a more staid “Graphite Gray.”) In any case, for a system constructed largely from plastic, the U310 still looks and feels good. The entire keyboard deck has a matte finish with a slightly metallic sheen, which makes it resistant to both scratches and unsightly fingerprint stains. All told, the homeliest part of the laptop might be the bezel, which is made out of glossy, reflective plastic. Truly, it’s the biggest tell-tale sign that this is a budget machine and not a premium system.
Another other major differentiator? The U310 is slightly thicker than the U300s and heavier too, at 3.75 pounds (versus 2.95). Still, that extra girth means room for some additional ports — namely, an Ethernet jack and HDMI output. (The chassis actually widens slightly where the Ethernet connection is, suggesting Lenovo really didn’t have much room to spare here.) In addition, you’ll find three USB ports (one 2.0, two 3.0) and an audio jack. Finally, there’s an SD reader, which was inexplicably missing on the higher-end U300s.
Keyboard and trackpad
Is there a company that knows more about keyboard design than Lenovo? For years, legions of touch typists have been choosing ThinkPads purely on account of those tactile keys, and though the engineers designing IdeaPads work in a completely different division, you have to imagine some of that keyboard know-how has trickled over into the consumer side of the house.
Actually, let’s clarify that. The AccuType keys you see here aren’t the dense, pillowy buttons used on ThinkPads of yore. Rather, they’re very similar to the island-style keyboards you’ll find on newer ThinkPad laptops, which just made the transition to a new layout. That caveat aside, the shape, pitch and overall feel of the keys is comparable to what you’d get on a ThinkPad. Particularly after testing Ultrabook after Ultrabook with shallow keys, it’s refreshing to get hands-on with something whose buttons actually move when you press them. They also have a slightly textured finish, which makes it that much easier to anchor your keys while you’re typing.
Nonetheless, this is not a perfect keyboard. For one, as stocky as the individual keys are, the underlying panel isn’t nearly as sturdy — we could feel the deck give a little as our word-per-minute rate started to pick up. More importantly, though, the pleasant spacing between the keys seems to come at the expense of non-letter buttons, such as Enter, Tab and Caps Lock. All of these auxiliary keys are undersized, and, particularly if you’re not used to the layout, you might find that your finger lands on the Delete key when you meant to hit Backspace.
The U310 has a spacious glass clickpad that responds surprisingly well to pinch-to-zoom. It even fares well with two-finger scrolls, though we noticed that thanks to the slick, low-friction surface, scrolling wasn’t as deliberate and controlled as on the Samsung Series 9, which we happened to be testing around the same time. Happily, though, because the pad offers so little friction, it’s easy to drag the cursor across the screen with one finger. Also, that line demarcating the right and left click zone makes it less likely that this pad will mistake one kind of click for the other. All told, our biggest request would be better palm rejection: as is, you might notice the cursor jumping around the page, even when you didn’t intentionally move it.
To find out more, click the link below for the full review
Price and availability of the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 Ultrabook in USA
The Lenovo IdeaPad U310 Ultrabook is priced at 754$ and you can buy it directly from Amazon USA.