The Bottom Line
Aug 15 2012 - One of the prime reasons for going to a larger ultrabook is for the display and graphics. The Lenovo IdeaPad U410 is mixed in this area as it does feature dedicated NVIDIA graphics but the 14-inch display panel leaves much to be desired. Lenovo does offer some amazing amount of storage space that rivals other ultrabooks but still keeps boot times fast. At least the system retains the excellent keyboard and trackpad designs that make it comfortable to work with. Battery life is another area where the the IdeaPad U410 could use some work. Overall, those wanting more storage and better graphics might be well served by this but otherwise, there are 13-inch ultrabooks that are more portable that work just as well.
- Huge Storage Capacity
- Dedicated Graphics Processor
- Excellent Keyboard and Trackpad
- Poor Display
- Below Average Battery Life
- Keyboard Isn't Backlit
- Intel Core i5-3317U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 1TB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive and 32GB Solid State Drive
- 14" WXGA (1366x768) Display With 1.0 Megapixel Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 610M Graphics With 1GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 5-in-1 Card Reader
- 13.5" x 9.3" x .8" @ 4.2 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter, McAfee Security Center
Review - Lenovo IdeaPad U410
Aug 15 2012 - Lenovo's IdeaPad U410 is essentially a larger and more feature rich version of the IdeaPad U310 ultrabook. It still retains all the features required by Intel to be classified as an ultrabook but adds in a few more. For the processor, it uses the new third generation Intel Core i5-3317U ultralow voltage processor. This provides it with a decent level of performance but what sets it apart from many others is the inclusion of 8GB of DDR3 memory. This allows it to offer a smoother experience when multitasking or using more demanding applications. It will still struggle with demanding tasks like desktop video just slower than a traditional laptop.
Storage has always been an issue for many ultrabooks because of the restrictions to their size and need for speed. Most use solid state drives exclusively but more manufacturers like Lenovo are looking at ways to reduce the costs. To do this, they are opting to use a traditional hard drive with an SSD cache to still offer the speed requirements. For the IdeaPad U410, Lenovo has used a very large one terabyte drive that dwarfs the majority of ultrabooks and offers twice what most hard drive based ultrabooks come with. It is relatively speedy in terms of data access but it mainly gets the boost in things like boot and sleep times which are 25 and 9 seconds respectively. If you do happen to require additional space, there are two USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external storage drives. As with all ultrabooks, there is no optical drive so those that need one will have to opt for an external drive to carry along with the laptop.
One of the main reasons for going with a larger ultrabook is for a larger display. This is probably the biggest overall disappointment with the IdeaPad U410. The 14-inch panel uses the generic 1366x768 resolution found in the majority of laptops and even smaller 13-inch ultrabooks. To make matters worse, this display has some of the worst viewing angles with major color and contrast shifts when viewing even slightly off center. Now the IdeaPad U410 does come with the NVIDIA GeForce GT 610M graphics instead of relying just on the Intel HD Graphics. This does give it additional 3D performance but it is not going to be something for gaming even at a casual level. Instead, it offers a greater range of acceleration for non-3D applications such as Photoshop.
The keyboard and trackpad design are identical to those of the IdeaPad U310. It features a standard isolated keyboard layout that has become standard for Lenovo. It is comfortable and accurate with a solid overall feel. There is no backlight which might be disappointing for some who like to work in dark environments. The trackpad uses a larger version with integrated buttons. Multitouch and and normal gestures all were accurate. The integrated buttons did still have problems at times registering left and right button clicks.
Like the smaller IdeaPad U310, the U410 uses an internal 46Whr capacity battery pack that is fairly typical for many laptops in the same size range. In digital video playback tests, the laptop was able to run for just under three and a half hours before going into standby mode. This is very similar to the smaller U310 which is disappointing as it is lower than most ultrabooks including some other ultrabooks based on hard drives. It certainly much lower than MacBook Air 13 or HP's Folio 13 that both average around six hours or more on the same test. Now, more typical usage will generally get longer running times but it might be hard to achieve the nine hours that Lenovo claims.
Lenovo does not have much competition yet in the 14-inch ultrabook space but it is going to see a number of additional options in coming months. Right now, The Toshiba Satellite U845 is the closest. Toshiba offers less storage and memory than Lenovo and it also does not have a dedicated graphics processor. On the other hand, it offers much longer running times and at a lower price point of roughly $700 compared to around $900 for the IdeaPad U410.