Lenovo IdeaPad U110 – Ultraportable of the year
The Lenovo IdeaPad U110 launched the IdeaPad family in the US and caught everybody’s attention. The IdeaPad U110 was Winner of the ‘Best of CES 2008 Award’, and is receiving rave reviews from the press and public alike.
Lenovo is famous for the superbly engineered ThinkPad range of laptops, including it's recently much acclaimed ThinkPad X300, but most consumers, or prosumers don't necessarily find the traditional styling of the ThinkPad to be appealing.
Enter the IdeaPad, with all the benefits of traditional Lenovo ThinkPad performance and engineering excellence, combined with some real cutting edge style. The IdeaPad U110 is not just beautiful, it’s a fashion statement.
The IdeaPad U110, is an icon in the making.
Watch out Steve, you may have to eat humble pie yet again, not only is this better looking than any Apple MacBook, you can fit more than one in a manila envelope!
Two Batteries are included, a 4-cell Li-Ion and a 7-cell extended life Li-Ion battery and Ports include 3 USB 2.0 ports, a IEEE 1394 Firewire, and a 5-in-1 card reader which is almost mandatory these days
The U110 measures just 10.8" x 7.7" x 0.72" - 0.88" and weighs in 2.42lbs with 4-cell battery and 2.92lbs with 7-cell battery and Lenovo have equipped the U110 with the Windows Vista Home Premium the operating System
One of the most important and innovative features of the new IdeaPad range is the Integrated web camera with VeriFace recognition software. It all feels very much like an episode of ‘24’ and a bit Jack Bauer’ish every time you start up! It works though and is a superb way to secure your laptop data in case of loss.
The U110 starts at $1,899. This isn't something the average consumer will be buying in place of a Sunday afternoon WalMart or Best Buy $600 deal, but if having the ultimate in style, portability, and excellence of build quality is important then the IdeaPad U110 is the only way forward.
IdeapPad U110 - Dazzling Design
The IdeaPad U110 is startlingly solid and the build quality is just outstanding. The aluminum etched display cover and magnesium aluminum chassis provide an incredible amount strength and light weight. There is no flex in the IdeaPad U110 chassis, which is an important factor in an ultraportable.
Like its siblings in the ThinkPad range, the IdeaPad U110 has been designed for long life and durability, and the U110 is probably the best built of the IdeaPad range. There is no latch mechanism to secure the lid, the U110 uses hinge tension to hold the screen closed.
The etched aluminum display cover is the most fascinating part of the U110 design. Lenovo has dubbed this the "Tendril Pattern" and it does look superb and really makes the IdeaPad U110 stand out from the crowd. The designers extended the "Tendril" pattern onto the bottom of the notebook and the touch sensitive media buttons.
The underside heat exhaust vents are also ‘carved’ as a tendril pattern with the underside of the U110 also featuring the design in one corner. Overall the IdeaPad U110 is just stunning to look at.
The U110 doesn't have an internal optical drive, but Lenovo does supply an external USB Dual layer CD/DVD recordable drive ‘in the box’. The drive itself is extremely stylish with a ThinkPad X300 like black texture and sophisticated silver vents on the sides. The drive is USB powered so there's no need for a separate power adapter, the drive requires two USB connections (one for power and one for data) so you will lose two USB ports if the drive is connected.
Missing is an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface)connection and an ExpressCard slot.
There's also no docking station. Instead you have a USB-based port replicator (or ExpressCard/34) to get the additional ports you would need when you are working from home office or at work. Lenovo engineers have had to make some design tradeoffs because you just can't get it all on
a laptop this small. The U110 does however provide superb compromise of connectivity for its size.
So How does it go?
At the of the day the IdeaPad U110 was never meant to be a desktop replacement with its quad core processor and huge graphics chip. This is an ultra light, super slim laptop that is design for work and connectivity on the move with the minimum inconvenience. And it does that job extremely well.
Ever tried to pull out a 15.4 or 17” full blown laptop out of its case and fire it up in the airport lounge? Or struggle through security trying not to drop it whilst you put your shoes and belt back on?
With the IdeaPad U110, you’ll hardly know its there, and with 8 hours of battery life you can have it out of its slip case, fired up, next to your cup of Starbucks in no time.
The IdeaPad U110 uses an Intel 1.60GHz Core 2 Duo L7500 voltage processor to conserve power and reduce heat build-up processor. Its more than capable of running your favourite office applications, writing that report and firing it back to the office.
With the Intel X3100 integrated graphics chip you won’t be able to play the latest version of Halo, but you will certainly be able to play movies and download the stuff you’ve missed from iTunes.
The keyboard on the IdeaPad U110 feels really good and has an excellent feel to the key’s and it is very quiet in use. The keyboard has a glossy finish to the keys and whilst they are close together, you soon get used to it. Looks like Lenovo have carried over the excellent keyboard tradition from ThinkPad.
The palm rest area is comfortable and also has a lovely glossy finish. The touchpad is works well and the only thing missing is the finger print reader, which of course is replaced by Lenovo’s new "VeriFace" facial recognition software.
The stereo speakers on the U110 are really quite good considering the size of the whole package. They are not exactly Dolby surround sound but there are great for what they are designed for, communication in the move. Plug in a pair of travelling earbuds, or your iPod earphones and sound improves dramatically.
Juice on the loose
Always the burning question with an ultraportable, ‘how long does the battery last’? well you really do get a good deal with the IdeaPad U110 because Lenovo gives you two batteries!
You get the bog standard 4-cell battery and the 7-cell extended life battery with the U110. The 4-cell is much lighter and has a life of up approximately 2 hours while the 7-cell has a life of up to 6 hours. That’s a total of 8 hours if your carrying both batteries and we expect, more than enough, even for a transatlantic flight
So, what’s the bottom line?
Let’s face it, the IdeaPad U110 is stunning to look at. It’s one of the sexiest laptops on the planet right now, and if that’s all you care about then you should go out and buy one. It blows the MacBook out of the air(sorry!)in terms of looks and bold design.
But under the gorgeous skin, the IdeaPad U110 is also a really great ultraportable, in fact its excellent at what it does, which is provide quick, secure and easy access to office apps, web, chat and email on the move with the minimum of fuss, maximum portability, and of course those drop dead gorgeous looks.
For the Techie amongst you!
The reviews IdeaPad U110 has the following specifications:
- 1.60GHz Intel Core 2 Duo L7500 Processor with 800Mhz FSB, 4MB Cache
- Intel X3100 Graphics
- 11.1-inch WXGA (1366 x 768, 370 nit) display
- 2GB (up to 3GB configurable) Memory
- 120GB Parallel ATA Hard Drive
- External Dual layer CD/DVD recordable drive
- Intel 4965AGN (802.11 a/b/g/n wi-fi), BlueTooth and Gigabit Ethernet
What goes in and Out?
The number of ports the U110 has is fairly good, they are certainly much better than the Apple MacBook Air provides, so lets have a look at what there is:
- 3 USB 2.0 ports
- ExpressCard/34 slot
- Gigabit Ethernet
- 5-in-1 multi-card reader
- Audio out, microphone in
- VGA monitor out
- And of course the ubiquitous Kensington lock slot