Lenovo U410 in Sapphire Blue

Lenovo’s U410 budget Ultrabook is no speed demon, but it is a sight for sore eyes. The aluminium lid and underside are colour-coded blue, red or grey, while the keyboard tray is silver with black keys. See also Group test: what's the best ultrabook laptop?

It isn’t the thinnest or lightest Ultrabook, but it’s fine for the occasional traveller. Perhaps more importantly, the specifications are reasonable for the price. A Core i3-3217U processor is backed by 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard disk and a 24GB SSD. Take a look at our Dell Inspiron 15R 7520 'Special Edition' review too.

This combination offers a useful, if not blistering, level of pace. The Lenovo recorded the lowest score here in PCMark 7, with 2,265 points, and in its Windows 7 guise in WorldBench 6, with just 95 points. The lower scores in our benchmarks are primarily due to the Core i3 processor’s lack of a Turbo Boost mode. We advise opting for a Core i5 version with Turbo Boost for £50 more (see next page for a review from our sister title PC World). See all Laptop reviews.

The GeForce 610M dedicated graphics chip is a bonus, delivering just enough grunt to keep undemanding gamers happy. The Lenovo managed 49fps in our Fear test (Maximum detail).

The combination of a large hard disk and a small SSD means the U410 resumes almost instantly from standby. However, the Lenovo needed 45 seconds to get ready for action from a cold boot.

The 14in LED-backlit screen has a reflective glossy coating. However, it’s bright and has good contrast. Unless you really can’t avoid bright sunlight or overhead lights, it’s not a deal-breaker.

The keyboard is comfortable to type on for extended periods, but you’ll have to get used to pressing Fn to use the function keys. Taking another leaf out of Apple’s book, the glass multitouch trackpad is large and responsive, and supports Windows 8 gestures.

The U410 has just enough ports to satisfy most users, but the lack of an optical drive will disappoint some. Lenovo’s bundled OneKey Recovery program needs updating – it asked us to insert blank DVDs to create a recovery image.

Battery life is reasonable, at 5 hours 35 minutes in our tests, if falling somewhat short of the competition.

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From 22/08/2012

By Alex Cocilova

The Lenovo IdeaPad U410 incorporates some pretty cool ideas at a very cool price that won't break budgets. But can a slender, budget-oriented laptop perform well? Let's see. See also: Group test: what's the best ultrabook laptop?

Lenovo IdeaPad U410: Specs and Performance

Our review model comes equipped with an Intel Core i5-3317U that runs at a standard 1.7GHz but kicks it up to 2.6GHz with Intel's Max Turbo Frequency technology when put under a heavy load. It also comes packed with 6GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM and an Nvidia GeForce 610M discrete graphics chip. It's great to see an all-purpose laptop equipped with something a little stronger than Intel's HD 4000 integrated graphics, even if it is a weaker mobile GPU.

The Lenovo IdeaPad U410 managed a score of 117 on our strenuous Worldbench 7 benchmark suite. This puts it at about 17 percent faster than our baseline system, which is a fully equipped desktop. This is a nice upgrade from the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 we reviewed last month. The U310 managed only a 94 on the benchmark and is missing some key features (certain components and screen size) that the U410 possesses.

Despite the discrete card, the Lenovo IdeaPad U410 didn't fare too well on our gaming/graphics tests. We ran DiRT 3 and Crysis 2 on high settings at a maximum resolution of 1366 by 768 pixels. It achieved an average of 23.7 frames per second on DiRT 3 and 13.8 fps on Crysis 2, a rate appearing closer to a slideshow than a game. This improves a little with the resolution lowered to 800 by 600 pixels and otherwise dialed down to low settings; DiRT 3 ran at an average of 76.6 fps and Crysis 2 at 38.4 fps. If you don't need it to look pretty or are happy with less graphically intensive games, you may be in luck here.

Lenovo IdeaPad U410The Lenovo IdeaPad U410 also includes a small solid-state drive to accompany a 750GB 5400-rpm drive as cache. Intel's Smart Response Technology is the company's way of giving hard drives SSD-like performance without the SSD price. By including a small drive that the user never sees (the user appears to see only one drive) the boot-up times, application processing, and file transferring all become significantly quicker.

Have no fear if you're impatient over start-up times. The Lenovo IdeaPad U410 was ready to go in 20.6 seconds from a cold boot. Lenovo uses RapidBoot technology to use RAM as a cache for boot files, taking some of the load off the hard drive. This is a vast improvement over the previous U310 model, which took nearly 53 seconds.

The Lenovo IdeaPad U410's battery performance was just below average at 5 hours, 33 minutes. This may be enough to get through a full day of class or work, as long as the laptop is not in constant use. Unfortunately, you will probably have to keep your power adapter handy unless you use the battery sparingly.

See also: Lenovo IdeaPad U410 tested: affordable and powerful Ultrabook.

Lenovo IdeaPad U410: Usability

The Lenovo IdeaPad U410 manages to stay petite even with some extra hardware thrown in. Without any accessories, it weighs only 1.8kg and measures 344x235x21mm. It's certainly small enough to carry around in a backpack while leaving some free space.

A nice 14.1-inch LED backlit screen allows for easy Web browsing and movie watching, but be aware that in the wrong light or at an off-axis angle, the glare can get bad.

The keyboard is spacious and comfortable to type on—the keys are soft and responsive. The highlight is probably the multitouch touchpad that responds only to fingers. Nothing is more frustrating than typing out something important and lengthy, and having your palm move the cursor, rendering your hard work useless. The pad is also a lot larger than previous iterations and made of glass, so it's smooth and your fingers move easily across its surface.

Lenovo IdeaPad U410The touchpad's support for multitouch gestures will be even more useful when Windows 8 launches in just a couple of months. For now, it is mostly used in Lenovo's Easy Notes, an application that works as a sticky pad for random thoughts and reminders. You use a combination of fingers and swipe gestures to open and close the program or change notes. It's not entirely intuitive, however, and you may find it a lot easier just to use the touchpad as a pointer; but better uses may emerge as more Windows 8 applications are released.

You get some say over the appearance of your system. Our review model came in Ruby Red, but you have a choice of Graphite Grey or Sapphire Blue as well. The aluminum body feels sturdy and protective, giving some peace of mind when packing it away.

The Lenovo IdeaPad U410 provides just enough ports minimize complaints. It has two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI-out, an ethernet port, and a multicard reader (SSD/MMC). Something you won't find, but may not miss, is an optical drive. (With everything going digital, optical drives tend just to get in the way and add weight.)

Luckily, the U410 has some digital media benefits, including a front-facing 720p camera and microphone for video chatting. It also includes Dolby Home Theatre to customize the sound for different applications.

One more feature worth mentioning is Lenovo's OneKey Recovery button. It's a great way to restore a corrupted system back to its original state, safely and simply. No need to mess with bootable discs or USB keys, or to pull out the Windows 7 Home Premium disc; just hit the button, and it will boot right into the recovery program

Lenovo IdeaPad U410: Specs

  • Intel Core i3-3217U 1.8GHz, 4GB DDR3 RAM 1066MHz
  • 2 x soDIMM slot
  • 500GB SATA 5400rpm
  • 24GB cache SSD
  • Windows 8 64-bit
  • 14in LCD 1366x768, glossy
  • nVidia GeForce 610M 1GB
  • Integrated stereo speakers 2x1.5W
  • Dolby Home Theatre V4
  • Keyboard and Touchpad
  • 802.11b/g/n WiFi, 10/100M LAN
  • 344x235x21mm
  • 1.8kg
  • 2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, headphone, mic, HDMI, LAN port
  • 2in1 (SD, MMC) card reader
  • Integrated 1.0M (720p HD) webcam
  • Intel Core i3-3217U 1.8GHz, 4GB DDR3 RAM 1066MHz
  • 2 x soDIMM slot
  • 500GB SATA 5400rpm
  • 24GB cache SSD
  • Windows 8 64-bit
  • 14in LCD 1366x768, glossy
  • nVidia GeForce 610M 1GB
  • Integrated stereo speakers 2x1.5W
  • Dolby Home Theatre V4
  • Keyboard and Touchpad
  • 802.11b/g/n WiFi, 10/100M LAN
  • 344x235x21mm
  • 1.8kg
  • 2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, headphone, mic, HDMI, LAN port
  • 2in1 (SD, MMC) card reader
  • Integrated 1.0M (720p HD) webcam

OUR VERDICT

The Lenovo IdeaPad U410 isn’t the fastest Ultrabook we’ve seen, but it’s difficult to complain about this laptop, given its designer looks and sensible price. JM

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