Design, Construction and Layout
Like its older sibling, the U310 is a slim, sleek device. It measures 13.1 inches long by 8.8 inches wide, giving it a smaller footprint than most notebooks on your desk. (Or, more likely, your lap.) But the number that matters most is the height: the U310 is a mere 0.7 inches tall. That's a little thicker than the U300s (which is 0.58 inches high), but it passes Intel's bar for ultrabook status. In fact, it's so thin that the LAN port sticks out a little, breaking up the curve of the bottom edge just a bit.
Speaking of sharp, the screen is bright and clear, with reasonable viewing angles. If you angle it just a little on an airplane seat tray, you should have no problems keeping the person next to you out of your business. On the other hand, the U310 isn't the best choice for showing today's cat videos to a large group. What, you keep the cat antics to yourself? At a more modest 1366X768 resolution, you may be left wanting a bit more real estate and pixel density but that would come a cost likely pushing this ultrabook beyond its $799 target. There are other options in the market with higher resolution displays, including Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon, if you have the extra budget.
The screen bezel is unobtrusive and darker than it was on Lenovo's earlier IdeaPad model, the U300s. There's no latch on the top, so you can open it by simply lifting it up, but the top stays shut when you close. I didn't have any problems with the lid opening while I carried the ultrabook.The keyboard is Lenovo's AccuType style, which emphasizes typing accuracy over saving space. Each key is visibly separate from the next, something you don't always see in laptops, or even desktop keyboards. The result is aesthetically pleasing and physically comfortable. The U300s ultrabook didn't have keyboard backlighting, and neither does the 310. That's too bad: the brightly-lit power button is easier to see in dimly lit environments and makes us wish the rest of the keyboard had received the same treatment.
The touchpad is also roomy – in fact, it's enormous. But a palm rejection feature keeps you from accidentally activating it while typing. During the length of my review, I bumped the touchpad regularly, but never once knocked my cursor somewhere random. Beyond knowing the difference between your palm and your fingers, the touch pad is actually capable of handling strokes from all five fingers, including swipes, pinches, and pulls. Lenovo went with a glass touchpad this time around. It makes for a surprisingly smooth surface. The touchpad's sensitivity is great when it comes to double-tapping to double-click, but it took me awhile to master the art of dragging and dropping on the touchpad without making my cursor stop.
Interestingly, the U310 comes in a few different colors. You can choose from Aqua Blue, Sapphire Blue, Graphite Grey, Cherry Blossom Pink, or Metallic Red, depending on the model you choose. There are plenty of laptop skins out there for people who want a customized system, but it's hard to beat a shell that's already your favorite color.