Lenovo IdeaPad U310: A More Affordable Ultrabook

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When we first fired up the Lenovo IdeaPad U310, we were faced with a clean Desktop. There are a few freebies, of course, but we didn't come across any programs that were unnecessarily wasted space.

Your system's initial security is brought to you by McAfee AntiVirus Plus, which encourages a paid subscription without going over the top. Some other get-you-started freebies are Microsoft Office Starter 2010 and Absolute Data Protect. The latter is a three-month trial of security software that you can use to lock your ultrabook or wipe sensitive files in the event that it's stolen.

 

CyberLink's YouCam taps the U310's built-in camera to let you record videos. As with the other software, you'll need to upgrade to YouCam Deluxe 5 if you want the whole shebang, but the light version has a decent array of tools, including surveillance capabilities. If you're worried that your ultrabook might get lifted, you can set YouCam to motion-detection recording and have it email its captures to you.

You're most likely going to be using YouCam to shoot video of yourself or others to share on the Web, so YouCam has some handy sharing buttons, including YouTube, Facebook, and email. We found the Auto Face Detection to be over-enthusiastic; it adjusted the zoom almost constantly, even when we sat as still as possible. The manual zoom solves that issue, though. Another YouCam feature worth noting is the Desktop Capture, which lets you record your actions on the computer.

Not all of the software is starter software, however. Both Easy Notepad and OneKey Recovery are full featured applications. Easy Notepad is note-taking tool that opens when you slide four fingers across the touchpad from left to right. You'll need to use the keyboard to type your notes, but you can flip through the notes by sliding three fingers up or down the touchpad. Easy Note is not a killer app, but it's handy and does what it's supposed to do, which is to show off the touchpad's sensitivity.

 
OneKey software and its companion button...

OneKey Recovery is a real perk. Lenovo put a button for OneKey on the side of the ultrabook so you can press it to access the program even if Windows is toast. If you press the button while Windows is operating, you'll see a very clean, very simple interface that lets you create a backup on the internal drive or an external USB drive or recover Windows from a backup you already made. The software also has a feature aimed at creating a recovery disc, but the U310 doesn't have an optical drive.

Another full application from Lenovo is SmartUpdate, which has tools to automate delivery of your social media updates and a feature that lets file downloads continue when the ultrabook's lid is closed. We doubt SmartUpdate is a program you'll be pinning to your Taskbar, but Lenovo's Energy Management tool is worth your time. It's an easy way to get a handle on your U310's battery life and manage energy-saving settings.

 

Side note: Using the IdeaPad 310, we found it to be warm, but not hot, on most surfaces. On a lap, it tends to get a little toasty after a good half hour. And as thin as it is, the U310 is sturdy enough to handle the uneven surface your lap creates.


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