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Lenovo's IdeaPad U260: A MacBook Air Challenger?

David Gilbert

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Lenovo's IdeaPad U260: A MacBook Air Challenger?

With the impressed oohs and aahs surrounding the recent release of the redesigned MacBook Airs, it was inevitable that more manufacturers would release their own slimmed down laptops.

Last week we saw Sony release an 11.6in version of its Vaio Y Series, and today Lenovo has announced its 12.5in IdeaPad U260. The U260 seems to land right in the middle of the 11.6in and 13.3in MacBook Airs that were released recently and shares quite a lot of the features of those machines. One feature it does not share however is the high price tag. The IdeaPad U260 , which will go on sale in the US initially, will begin at $899 (£565) - slightly cheaper than the 11.6 MacBook Air which starts at £849 and a whole lot cheaper than the 13.3in model which begins north of £1,000.

According to the press release from Lenovo, the U260 was “inspired by the silhouette of a classic leather-bound journal.” Now we’re not sure what the silhouette of a classic leather-bound journal looks like but whatever inspired the design it seems to have worked as it is a good looking machine. The 12.5in screen gives users a 16:9 aspect ratio with a screen resolution of 1366 x 768.

Weighing in at about 3lbs it is heavier than the 11.6in (2.3lbs) and 13.3in(2.9) MacBook Airs. It is also slightly thicker at 0.71in compared to 0.61in for the Airs and is made from a one-piece magnesium-aluminum alloy frame. The U260 also has a glass touchpad which supports multi-touch capabilities such as pinch-to-zoom – again very similar to the Airs.

Under the hood, the U260 can be powered by either an i3, i5 or i7 Intel Core processor making it seem more powerful than the Airs running the older Core 2 Duo technology. The difference here though is that while the Apple devices were boosted by state-of-the-art Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics chipsets the U260 is stuck with Intel’s in-house HD integrated graphics.

The U260 has no optical drive, two USB ports, no SD card slot and comes with 4GB of RAM as standard. The U260 can be configured with up to 320GB of hard drive storage or up to 128GB of SSD flash-based storage. The battery life claimed by Lenovo is up to 4hours which compares poorly to well over 6hours for the Airs. It comes in the rather strange sounding colours of Clementine Orange and Mocha Brown.

While there are a number of drawbacks to this slimline laptop, the enticing price point – well below the most basic MacBook Air – will appeal to a lot of people, whether or not the U260 can live up to the performance of the Airs.

ramzez

November 18, 2010, 3:26 pm

macbook air's claimed battery life is 5 hours for 11" and 7h for 13", not 6. also would be interesting to see how much extra you would have to pay for SSD storage, i am quite sure the price will be higher then apple's.

HarryGlass

November 18, 2010, 6:00 pm

I wish you'd link to product pages on manufacturers websites when posting product announcements. Much easier to check specs, options and photos. Would have been nice to have seen a photo of the internals with the keyboard shown.





Still would get a Asus UL30A if I was going for a thin & light.

Brian ONeill

November 18, 2010, 6:09 pm

Hmm no sd card slot seems an odd omission. Otherwise looks interesting. Still surprised dell has not done a decent macbook knock off yet.

PKd71

November 18, 2010, 6:33 pm

Don't expect to see this in the UK anytime soon. Although much better on the business/Thinkpad side of thinks, Lenovo's support and presence in the UK marketplace is dreadful. Outdated models online compared to US, and very little retail presence that I can find to actually check out the laptops in person. A shame really, as I really like some of their machines.

Jedibeeftrix

November 18, 2010, 7:38 pm

If Lenovo stuck a dual-core AMD Zacate chip in this chassis it would have three huge benefits:


1) much better graphics umph (80 shader gpu)


2) it will be even cheaper (Zacate cost peanuts)


3) battery life will be better (Zacate uses only 18W)





Using Zacate with a price somewhat north of £500 I would certainly want one!

Xamph

November 18, 2010, 7:45 pm

"pricing ... will begin at $899 (£565) - slightly cheaper than the 11.6 MacBook Air which starts at £849"


565 quid is only "slightly cheaper" than 849 quid?


Depends on your point of view, I suppose...

HarryGlass

November 18, 2010, 8:00 pm

@Brian: Agree on SD card slot (copying one thing too many from the Air!!!). As for Dell, there was the Adamo XPS which outclassed the Air in WOW factor for many. More realistic there's the Vostro V13. I'm not a big deal fan but have to admit they are capable and interesting machines.





Prefer the Lenovo X series to this, too many compromises. But then it is a fair bit cheaper (though that depends on your point of view as @Xamph says).

gnodeb

November 18, 2010, 8:54 pm

Sometimes you can try to write some article without Apple in it. There is more then one manufacturer who made 11'' laptop before Apple. Also, almost all of them use Windows as OS and standard HDD as storage. That makes them too different, and that is why they should be compared to each other not to MacBook Air...


iPed is better match to MacBook Air then some windows based laptop...

xenos

November 18, 2010, 10:24 pm

Agree with Xamph - The base Air is is 66% more expensive, that's definitely more than slightly!

HarryGlass

November 19, 2010, 4:01 am

@gnobed, ha true Apple have what (at best) 5% of the market, so really nobody should ever be comparing their products with them. But it just shows how potent they've become that people always do. The PC landscape is changing, who knows where we'll be in 2-5 years, but if MS want to keep their position they need to get their manufacturers to come up with something more innovative than they have been of late.

Andy 17

November 19, 2010, 1:45 pm

State of the art 320m...! A last generation piece, granted custom made for Apple, but not state of the art by any means.

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