The IdeaPad U310 and U410 ultrabooks will be arriving soon, Lenovo is promising a $699 starting price tag on these new laptops, this is far below the first Lenovo IdeaPad U300s ultrabook released last year. I got a chance to try out both of these new laptops at a Lenovo event and came away impressed with some aspects, but also with some qualms regarding other aspects.
Some background first. The U410 is a 14-inch screen Ultrabook while the U310 is a 13-inch screen variety. Both have the same design, the inside is white with some glossy touches and the lid will be offered in varying colors including blue, red, grey and spearmint. The picture below is of the U410. You can see that the keyboard keys are black and have a chiclet style design. The inside actually looks strikingly like the old plastic MacBook, except of course that laptop had white keys. The screen on the U410 is a glossy finish as you would expect, and the bezel around the screen is also glossy. Because the bezel and case are white they don’t show fingerprints too much, which is a good thing. The only concern is over time whether the case might discolor.
As far as port selection, you actually get quite a variety and more than past Ultrabooks. On the left side you get an Ethernet port, HDMI port and 2 USB 3.0 ports.
On the right side you get a dual headphone/microphone jack and another USB 2.0 port.
There will also be an SD card slot on the front left side, something sorely lacking on the current IdeaPadU300s.
The most important aspect of the U310 and U410 are of course how thin and light they are, they couldn’t be called Ultrabooks without being exceptional in those categories. The 14” screen U410 will come it at 0.83” thick and weigh 4.18lbs and the 13” screen U310 will be 0.7” thick and weigh 4.18lbs. Of course, at such a thin profile you won’t get any optical drive (DVD or Blu-Ray), no Ultrabook has such a feature so that just part and parcel.
In terms of power and performance, both laptops will be powered by an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor. It’s likely that the $699 configuration will come with a current 2nd generation Intel Core i5 Sandy Bridge processor while more expensive configurations down the road might offer the next generation Ivy Bridge Intel ULV processors. Storage will come in the form of both an SSD and up to 500GB hard drive, there’s no indication as to whether the OS will be on the SSD for fast bootup or if the SSD will just be just used as a caching mechanism as it currently is on the Lenovo U300e. The graphics will be powered by the Intel HD 3000 / HD 4000 on the U310 while the U410 will have Nvidia 610M graphics for an extra boost.
Availability of the IdeaPad U310 and U410 is set for May, though no specific date has been set, it’s only a matter of weeks now. Overall these are impressive Ultrabooks for the price, however the build quality is not the same as a $1,000+ Ultrabook. The keyboard had quite a lot of flex to it, it’s certainly not ThinkPad quality. The overall build uses a lot of plastic as well, it is not as high quality feeling as either the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook or the HP ENVY 14 Spectre. Those Ultrabooks cost $999 and $1,299 respectively though so you have to accept the fact you’ll make some sacrifices to get to the $699 price point. We look forward to trying these models out when they arrive in the next couple of months, stay tuned for upcoming reviews!