Lenovo IdeaPad U260: A Stylish Ultralight Notebook

Introduction and Specifications

If you are in the market for an ultralight notebook with a gorgeous LED backlit LCD and don't want to spend more than $1,000, the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 should be on your short list. The U260's claim to fame is its 12.5-inch form-factor, making it larger than your average netbook--but at a mere 18mm thick and 3 lbs, it's almost as light as one. Lenovo claims the U260 is the first 12.5-inch ultralight machine on the market, and pricing starts at $899.

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What you'll notice first about the notebook is that is just plain good looking. We found people staring at the Mocha brown unit we tested, and we received a compliment or two on how nice it looked. It also comes in a color Lenovo calls clementine orange, both made from a tough-but-light one-piece magnesium aluminum cover. Many Windows 7 notebook users aren't used to such attention.  That kind of thing is usually reserved for the latest Macbook Air, the newest tablet, or the fanciest Lenovo touchscreen convertible. But Lenovo has been really trying to break out of the notebook design doldrums that came from its IBM ThinkPad roots.  We'd say the U260 does just that...

Lenovo IdeaPad U260
Specifications & Features
Processor Intel Core i5-560UM processor with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology* (1.33GHz, up to 2.13GHz, 3MB Cache)
Intel Core i5-470UM processor with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology* (1.33GHz, up to 1.86GHz, 3MB Cache) (Note: Used in test unit.)
Intel Core i3-380UM processor (1.33GHz, 3MB Cache)
Intel Pentium processor U5400 (1.20GHz, 3MB Cache)
Operating System Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium
Genuine Windows 7 Home Basic
Display / Resolution 12.5" High-definition (1366x768), 16:9 widescreen
Graphics Intel HD Graphics with dynamic frequency
Memory Up to 4GB DDR3 1066MHz
Hard Disk Drive 160GB/250GB/320GB 5400rpm, optional 128GB SSD
Optical Drive Optional external USB DVD drive (Note: not included with test unit)
Sound 2.0 speakers (2*1W) with Dolby® Advanced Audio™ surround sound
Integrated Communications 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 10/100/1000M LAN, Bluetooth®
Connectors 2xUSB2.0, headphones, mic, VGA, HDMI, 1x Mini PCIe
Camera Integrated 3 megapixel Lenovo EasyCamera webcam
Other Features Multi-finger touchpad, Breathable chiclet keyboard
Weight Start from 3.04 lb (1.38kg)1
Dimensions 318x18x204.5 (mm) (WxHxD)
Battery Life Approx. 4hr with 4-cell battery
Included Software* McAfee VirusScan Plus, CyberLink YouCam 3.0, VeriFace 3.6, Lenovo ReadyComm 5.0, Lenovo DirectShare, OneKey Rescue System 7.0, Lenovo Energy Management Software 5.0, Windows Live Essentials, Adobe Reader 9.0, Microsoft Office Professional Hybrid 2010 and Active Protection System
*Software may vary by region, Lenovo says.

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As a 12.5-inch, roughly 3lb notebook, the U260 is comfortable enough to lug along for a whole day of work, or school or coffee shop-hopping, yet big enough to let you see your whole spreadsheet.

The HD screen was a pleasure to watch for hours of movies and television and its clarity was great for photo editing, or just showing photos off. (WXGA, HD 1366 x 768 resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio.)

While the U260 is not overflowing with drool-worthy hardware, it does include many functional niceties such as a .3 megapixel front-facing Webcam, HDMI port, multitouch touchpad and a 4-cell battery that's good for over three hours of real-world battery life. Lenovo claims up to four hours.

Lenovo also packs its notebooks with a handful of custom applications for security, file sync, backup and restore.

In the pages to follow, we'll explore the U260's strengths -- and its flaws -- in depth.

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