Looking more like an expensive leather portfolio than a laptop computer, Lenovo's IdeaPad U260 mixes style and power
At 0.9 x 12.4 x 8.0 in., the IdeaPad is slightly thicker than some ultraportables but an inch narrower from side to side, making it the easiest to pack. Frequent fliers take note: it leaves the most room on an airline tray.
The Lenovo IdeaPad U260 weighs just 2.9 lb, which matches the 13in. MacBook Air and puts it on a par with many netbooks. With its small AC adapter, the system has a travel weight of 3.4 lb, nearly a pound lighter than the Dell Vostro V130.
The Lenovo IdeaPad U260 has a classy appearance and looks the least like a notebook. Its rubberized coating has an alluring feeling and is available in clementine (orange) and mocha (brown).
Open up the case and you'll see the biggest treat of all: a padded leatherette wrist rest that cushions the palms and makes typing much more comfortable. Although the system has small 18.8mm keys, the keyboard is comfortable to use.
The system we tested was powered by an Intel Core i5-470UM processor that cruises at 1.33GHz, but when the pressure is on, can boost its speed to 1.86GHz. (The entry-level model has a 1.33GHz Core i3 processor.)
Note: the version sold in the UK uses an Intel Core 03-380UM processor
The Lenovo IdeaPad U260 we tested came with 4GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive. There's an external DVD drive option, but while the drive may be useful, it doesn't match the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 classy look.
At 12.5in, the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 screen is small, but the difference is hard to notice and it was bright. It offers the same 1366 x 768 resolution as many others. It uses Intel's GMA HD graphics.
The ports that the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 has on tap are sufficient but not impressive, with a pair of USB 2.0 ports, VGA and HDMI connectors, and a combo headphone/microphone jack.
It does without any USB 3.0 ports, and the more convenient separate headphone and microphone connections. The Lenovo IdeaPad U260 also lacks an SD slot for flash memory cards.
On top of 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi networking, the IdeaPad has an ethernet connection and Bluetooth. Lenovo does not offer an integrated wireless data card for connecting to a cell network.
The Lenovo IdeaPad U260 was a midrange performer on just about all measures. On PassMark's PerformanceTest 7.0 benchmark, it scored a 664.5, but well behind the score of 1095 that the Asus U36JC-A1 achieved in High Performance mode.
In real-world use, the Lenovo IdeaPad U260’s performance and response times seemed on par with the Dell Vostro V130 - that is, adequate but not as fast as the Asus in High Performance mode, and it showed fewer background details in the Trainz simulations.
The Lenovo IdeaPad U260's six-cell battery can power it for 3 hours and 23 minutes in the Computerworld test, more than an hour longer than the Vostro, a virtual tie with the Asus in High Performance mode and well behind the Asus' 4:17 run time in Battery Saving mode.
The Lenovo IdeaPad U260 remained connected to our office Wi-Fi router 105 feet away, 10 feet longer than the Vostro but 20 feet short of the Asus machine's mark.
The Lenovo IdeaPad U260 includes Windows 7 Home Premium, Office 2010 Starter and a translucent smiley face that shows up on-screen and provides shortcuts to a variety of configuration details.
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If you're looking for a good compromise between size, weight and performance in a notebook that doesn't look like a notebook, the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 fits the bill.