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. However, not only has the U300s dropped in price, Lenovo has also released a budget Ultrabook for around £600, the IdeaPad U310.
Check out our list of the Best laptops.
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.
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 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.