Lenovo IdeaPad U310 – Design, Connectivity and Usability
While we were reasonably happy with Lenovo’s first attempt at an Ultrabook, the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s, it wasn’t one of the cheaper ultraportable laptops on the market, and considering it had a few issues, it wasn’t one we would recommend saving up for after alternatives like the Samsung Series 9 900X3B which also has Compatible Parts . However, not only has the U300s dropped in price, Lenovo has also released a budget Ultrabook for around £600, the IdeaPad U310.
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Though its model name may suggest the U310 is a step up from the U300s, that’s certainly not the case, which you can tell as soon as you touch its plastic insides. Mind you, the U310 is a reasonably attractive laptop, with a metal outer shell that’s available in a range of colours. Obviously, being the macho chaps that we are, we went for a hot pink model – just to mix things up a little. But if that’s not your cup of tea or laptop colour of choice, you can also get the IdeaPad U310 in bright blue or black.
The inside, meanwhile, will be white plastic that’s not even pretending to be metal. This generally looks pretty good, if you like white. But once you open the U310 up, most people won’t mistake it for a particularly premium Ultrabook – an impression not helped by the massive bezel around its screen.
Build quality is superb on the outer metal panels, and a tad less impressive on the inside, where there’s a hint of creak below the screen. Shockingly for a Lenovo laptop, there’s also a significant amount of flex in the keyboard area. We also came across a quirk where carrying the laptop with one hand and putting pressure on the bottom area under the touchpad would disable it and its buttons… bizarre.
Weight is a bit high for a 13-inch Ultrabook, at 1.7kg. Again, we guess that’s the price of affordability, but after just reviewing the 1.09kg Toshiba Portege Z930, this thing feels like a brick.
One of our complaints with the U300s was that it offered no SD card reader, and thankfully this had been addressed by the newer IdeaPad U310. On its left you’ll find non-Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI and twin USB 3.0 ports; its front houses that card reader; while the right gives you a single USB 2.0 port and other laptop parts .
You also get Wi-Fi N but no Bluetooth. It’s a pretty standard complement that will cover the needs of most, but lacks the faster Ethernet, Bluetooth and high-resolution DisplayPort output of some of its rivals. Rounding out the features list is an HD webcam.
Usually, going Lenovo is a safe bet for a great typing experience, though it’s only really guaranteed with the ThinkPad line. Still, despite the flex and lack of backlighting, the IdeaPad U310 is rather pleasant to type on.
Layout of its chiclet laptop keyboard
is flawless, and the well-spaced keys offer a good amount of travel with positive feedback and a defined click, from which the flex only marginally detracts.
Though it’s plastic rather than glass, the U310’s large touchpad is very similar to the rather good example found on the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s. It’s a treat for the fingers, which glide easily across its smooth surface, and is responsive without being temperamental.
Lenovo IdeaPad U310 – AV, Performance, Value and Verdict
Regarding the Lenovo IdeaPad U310’s screen, it’s a fairly standard 13.3in TN affair with the usual 1,366 x 768 resolution. It does make an above-average impression though. For one thing, there’s little sign of backlight bleed or clouding. For another, dark detailing is good if not perfect, and we’re also major fans of the display’s matt finish, which eliminates annoying reflections. As usual with screens using a TN panel rather than IPS/PLS or MVA/PVA however, it’s the viewing angles that let the side down, with contrast shift across the board and Lenovo Ideapad Keyboard .
Lenovo doesn’t make much fuss about the stereo speakers in the IdeaPad U310, and that’s a good thing, as they’re pretty average. Sound comes across with a hint of distortion and everything sounds pretty canned, but the maximum volume levels aren’t bad and on occasion the mid-range comes through with a surprising amount of depth. Still, for proper entertainment headphones will be required.
After a decent set of headphones? Have a read of our Best Headphones 2012 roundup.
Thankfully, despite being a ‘budget’ product, the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 is available in a few configurations, from our model with Compatible Parts such as a speedy Core i5 and hybrid SSD hard drive, to a Core i3-equipped plain HDD version that foregoes the Ultrabook name because of its lack of quick storage.