Lenovo IdeaPad U400 Notebook Review

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The first thing we look at when it comes to software is bloatware. There's a 64-bit copy of Windows 7 Home Premium here, which is fairly standard for this class of machine. But much to our surprise, we weren't bothered by a nasty Norton pop-up or anything of the like. In fact, it's a mostly untouched installation of Windows 7. There are a few Lenovo-branded apps onboard, as well as OneKey Recovery, Cyberlink Power2Go and Lenovo YouCam. OneKey is there to back things up, and if things go south, a dedicated button on the rear side of the laptop can get you back to a useful state.

There's also a software layer that connects with the multi-touch trackpad, enabling a master window to pop up when you gesture upward with four fingers, and an Easy Notepad to pop up when you gesture with three fingers on the desktop. When you're in Internet Explorer, multi-finger gestures can switch between tabs or scroll up and down a page; nifty.

There's also a majorly great feature onboard that you certainly won't find on too many sub-$900 machines: WiDi. Intel's Wireless Display is built right in here, enabling you to wirelessly transmit HD footage to receivers and set-top boxes that also support the protocol. The UI onboard is easy to understand, but there's no receiver bundled in, so that's on you to procure as an option.

Out initial boot-up took 53 seconds to go from dark to useable, but there's a built-in boot optimizer that made things a touch faster (it improved to just over 45 seconds). The 5400RPM hard drive could stand an upgrade maybe, but overall, the machine was adequately quick, particularly considering the price tag.

HD videos played back smoothly and without jaggies, and multi-tasking went over well. It even loaded up rather heavy-duty gaming titles in fairly quick fashion. Not everything was perfect, though. Initially loading up heftier applications like Photoshop definitely took a number of seconds, and even Internet Explorer took around three to four seconds to load up and become usable. Not unexpected given the price, but there's occasionally some noticeable handling everyday tasks.

On the other hand, we did also notice that waking up from sleep took merely a second; that's quite the feat compared to most Windows-based laptops, which can easily take five to ten seconds to regain conscientiousness after being asleep for any length of time. Overall, using Windows on this machine was a pleasant experience, but we were reminded from lag here and there that we weren't on an SSD-equipped super-machine. Still, for the price, it sailed along quicker than we expected.

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reviewer 2 years ago

Although I'm a big fan of Lenovo, U400 has many drawbacks. I'm really dissapointed with poor keyboard on the U400 and absense of SD card reader. It looks like cheap copy of macbook pro.

Dave_HH 2 years ago

I've seen the machine and worked with it myself and can tell you it's definitely not a cheap copy and has design quality/features of its own merit as well.

AKnudson 2 years ago

That's reassuring dave. i have a few skeptical points, first of all there was no listed price point, not a good sign, second the specs were good but not fantastic, but the only thing selling this computer is the price and the mention in the same breath as the ultrabook. That is not really a good basis to be on.

However i am sure this is an awesome product. lenovo does great work, and i don't doubt they have a cult of die hard supporters.

Super Dave 2 years ago

Thanks for the great review, Ray. I only wish that an AMD A6 or A8 platform had also been included in the benchmarks for comparison purposes!

CDeeter 2 years ago

I second that, Please include A6 and A8 machines.

Secondly, how is mid-range defined? To me entry/budget is under $500, mid is $5-800, high end $800-1200, and performance/ boutique above that. Having said that, while the aluminum body is nice, at this price point I expect a card reader, 7200 rpm drive, and at least the option of a hi res screen. Pretty only does so much for me : ).

Keep up the good work Ray!

CNKirby 2 years ago

To all who are considering ordering from Lenovo directly --- DO NOT!! You have been warned. I originally ordered a Z570 i5 on June 18th. It wasn't until July 10th (after many phone calls, emails and LIES FROM LENOVO REPS) that I finally found out that the configuration I ordered had sold out and they wouldn't be making any more of them. I was then offered two substitute laptops (both with inferior specs -- one even had "Better graphics" where the graphics card information should have been). I refused both offers and finally said that I would like to upgrade to the U400 i7 for the same cost or I was going to cancel the order. I was told that would be fine and that it would be put on "the priority list". The back and forth with the foreign reps ate up another few days. By this time the ship date on the website for the U400 said July 18th. I said fine and was given a new order number. Checking the order status a couple days later showed a ship date of the 19th. One more day, no big deal. The 19th comes and goes, then the ship date changes to the 23rd. Now I am being told the 3rd of August due to LCD supply issues. So almost 2 months to even get a laptop to ship. Its not worth the hassle having to deal with Lenovo directly. I have loved their products for many years (starting back when they were IBM products) and have been a loyal customer. No longer. Sad for them. I own a technical services/consulting company and have also recommended their products to my clients, family and friends. I can easily account for hundreds if not thousands of sales through my company and my customers. All that good faith gone in a matter of weeks. I am going to wait until the 3rd of August to see if my laptop actually ships. But only because I am getting it for about 60% off. If it ships then MAYBE Lenovo could still retain a portion of my business (but only through other 3rd party suppliers).

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