Top positive review
20 people found this helpful
Great little low end ultraportable
on January 6, 2010
After spending some time over a few weeks comparing, even going to various stores and testing Asus, Acer, Toshiba and Sony laptops, I finally decided on this little laptop as my choice among the inexpensive ultraportables and I'm very pleased with the U350 overall (hence the five star rating). The Asus machines (U20, U30 and U80) with a comparable processor and other options were very nice and I came close to buying one, but they came in at least $150-$300 more for roughly the same specs, but still had no HDMI port like this one. (Of course, you do get the Asus warranty, which I'd say is worth around another $100.) The Acers of equivalent components were also generally a good deal, but came in still $50-100 more and also didn't have a 1.3 megapixel camera. This model of the U350 has media card capabilities and the wireless N card, but no Bluetooth (which you get included for $142 more if you buy it direct from Lenovo). Bluetooth wasn't that important to me and the $507 price tag for this machine through Amazon was the best buy for the buck by far in my humble opinion. The U4100 1.3 Ghz processor is in the Pentium family and according to specs on the Intel site has 2 cores, but is not in the dual core family. It isn't rocket fast, but none of the ultra-low voltage processors are. Battery life is basically what is reported, roughly five hours from what I've been able to ascertain in two days of usage. I'm not sure how Asus and Acer get their machines to go 9-12 hours with roughly the same components, maybe it's lower lighting, power management, etc. The screen lighting on this machine is excellent throughout the battery life, but if you need 9 hours of time without a power source, go with the Asus or Acer, I guess, and pay the extra money and get certain slightly different tradeoffs. As to complaints here in other reviews about a cheap plastic case whose battery covers break, I'd say that if you force a part into this type of case whether it's made by Toshiba, Asus, Acer or whoever, it's going to break. Thanks for the warning, though. Having seen the other machines firsthand at computer stores, my assessment is that most have roughly the same type of lightweight plastic casings, so unless you go with a MacBook Pro and pay $1149 for the aluminum case model, this is basically what you are going to get. I guess the Acer has an aluminum top, but there are complaints about the fit of that among reviewers here. The brushed aluminum look on the palm rest for this U350 model is really great addition, as is the patterned cover because you get no fingerprints on either, which is really nice with all the "fingerprint magnets" out there. The mousepad and right and left click buttons seem to me to be a little inferior, which is almost worth a half a star off, but at this price you just need to face the fact you aren't going to get perfection. I bought the 3 year Square Deal warranty which includes accidental damage for a full 3 years (it's five star rated and 2 full years more Accidental Damage warranty than the Asus warranty). This is great deal through Amazon and I've very been pleased with their service (on-time, undamaged deliveries). I know some of the other low end ultraportables are also great deals, but if you are looking for a machine that is far more than a netbook for just a bit more in price, the Lenovo U350 is definitely worth seriously considering.
UPDATE AFTER ONE WEEK - STILL FIVE STARS
Still very pleased with this little laptop, and I see they've dropped the price another $8 to put it under $500. I went by Staples today to pick up some supplies and looked at latest the HP DM3 which they are selling for $649 and it is the exact same construction in terms of the lightweight, durable plastic casing (the ASUS also was roughly the same). I've gotten more use to the touchpad and the buttons and they same roughly the same quality as the ASUS and HP models at Staples. Also I noticed my daughter-in-law's Dell has roughly the same quality touchpad and buttons. I'm still getting five hours of battery life as advertised. I am very thankful for the "aluminum brushed" look of the palm rest, because I don't have to put up with smudges and fingerprints that come with the glossy black cases. The 1.3Ghz speed of the dual core U4100 is obviously significantly beyond the Atom processors of netbooks and any Celeron processor, and as I said above, it is in the Pentium family and is an ultralow voltage processor, though not specifically in the "dual core" family (but it does indeed have a dual core - search Intel processor specs and it shows this processor does have two cores like the dual core processors). I'm presently running MS Office on this without any hiccups, even Excel spreadsheets, and it does a good job with internet video clips.
IMHO, I'd still say it's easily the best buy among the lower end ultra-portables since it is only $500 and has the same or better specs than other ultraportables that are asking $150-$250 more.