And now for something completely different, at least for Lenovo. Their IdeaPad U260 is a stunning looking piece of technology with the build quality of a ThinkPad but styling that's anything but ThinkPad. This 12.5" laptop weighs only 3 lbs. and is 0.7" inches thick, and it looks more like an elegant book than an ultraportable computer. We've got the Clementine orange color, which is tasteful rather than loud, and it's also available in Mocha brown with a bronze cast. The notebook recently launched in a quiet way, and we're not sure why Lenovo isn't doing a better job of marketing their first luxury ultralight.
Beyond its crazy low weight and thinness, the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 is no computing slouch. The $1,099 model comes with the ULV version of Intel's Core i5 CPU (the 470UM) clocked at 1.33GHz with Turbo Boost up to 1.86GHz. The $999 model comes with a ULV Core i3 (get the i5, it's worth $100).
Intel Core i5 470UM at 1.33GHz with 2 cores and 4 threads plus Turbo Boost 4 gigs DDR3 RAM (in 1 DIMM slot) 320 gig, 5400 rpm hard drive (7mm thin) 12.5" 1366 x 768 LED backlit matte display Intel WiFi 802.11b/g/n Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR Ethernet 10/100/1000 2 USB ports HDMI and VGA ports 3.5mm headphone jack VGA webcam Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit 4 cell battery, tiny charger included
Those are very solid specs for an ultralight, and only Acer puts the Lenovo U260 to shame with their TimelineX 1830T running on a ULV Intel Core i7 with more ports (but a smaller display, smaller trackpad and no metal chassis). Thinking of holding out for the ULV version of Intel's Sandy Bridge? That likely won't be here until late 2011.
That's right, the U260 has a metal casing that's covered in a soft touch finish that's even more grippy than a ThinkPad's. It just feels wonderful, and better yet makes the notebook nearly immune to fingerprints, accidental drops or slides across the table. The palm rest deck is textured to look and feel like leather, and the roomy glass trackpad is one of the best we've used on a Windows machine.
The keyboard is Lenovo's usual excellent island style keyboard with good key separation and travel. Excellent stuff. It's spill resistant and "breathable" (the CPU and components vent through the keyboard as well as the rear and bottom vents, though the keyboard never gets hot).
Drawbacks, besides the price? When you go after the MacBook Air and Pro (in theory not in looks because the U260 looks unique and nothing like the Air or MacBook Pro), you inherit designer-induced drawbacks. At least Lenovo did: the battery isn't removable, the underside gets warm because metal casing transfer heat (it's not alarmingly hot) and there are only 2 USB 2.0 ports and no SD card slot. Really? Even an 11.6" netbook manages 3 USB ports and a card reader these days. At least there's an Ethernet port .
Performance: suitable for web, productivity, Photoshop and light development work with the Core i5 ULV.
Looks and uniqueness: Plenty of that here.
Quality: Heaps of that too.
12.5" matte display vs. the Lenovo U160 and Acer 1830T's gloss 11.6" display running at the same resolution: score big for the U260. It's much easier on the eyes with no glare and no squint-inducing tiny text.
Battery Life: Mediocre at 3.5 hours for productivity and Internet tasks.
Full review? Coming soon. Video review? Right here:
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview