Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: Performance-wise, the U400 is a solid option, speeding through basic Windows 7 chores without too much lag. Multi-tasking is a fairly smooth affair as well, but expect a few seconds of load lag during the initial boots of heavier apps. When it comes to gaming, though, there isn't much to write home about. You'll need to use lower resolutions and image quality settings in order to get newer titles to be playable. Of course, Lenovo doesn't market this machine as one that gamers should take interest in. Looking deeper, the trackpad performance was a mixed bag. We loved having support for multi-gesture input, and the sizable pad was great to work with, but the response was definitely lagged from time to time. Finally, we can't finish this section without mention the thermals. Lenovo's new cooling system kept fan noise at a minimum, and it kept the palm rest and underside as cool as a cucumber even after hours of benchmarking. Impressive.The IdeaPad U400 is a super classy machine. The design is just beautiful, and for all the complaining we do about palm rest stickers, we couldn't have been happier to find that not a single one was applied here. We really can't scream this from the rooftop loud enough. No palm rest stickers = happier consumers.
We did have a few gripes with the design; there's no SD card slot, and only one of the three USB ports are of the USB 3.0 variety. The HDMI port is also aligned strangely, though we did appreciate the inclusion of WiDi on a sub-$900 machine. Too bad you need to provide your own receiver, though. Also, the inability to order a U400 with a screen resolution above 1366x768 is a bummer. Also, the U400's tighter viewing angles is one of the only non-premium design aspects of the entire rig.
Lenovo deserves credit for keeping bloatware to a minimum, and for implementing a large, comfortable trackpad. The machine's design, all-around, is high quality, but we will say that the "book-style" edges are unnecessarily sharp. All in all, the biggest issue faced by the U400 is that it's not particularly memorable. It's entirely like so many other machines on the market from a performance standpoint, and while the design is a leap ahead, it's still going to be tough for a mid-range machine like this to cut through the noise.
In total, Lenovo's U400 is an interesting option to be sure. However, it's not drastically cheaper than the competition, the screen isn't drastically better than any rival machines, and the performance-to-price ratio isn't mind-blowing. That said, if you have a "thing" for the design, or you stumble upon a great coupon, mid-range users won't be let down by what this system offers. Just don't expect it to be a powerhouse in the gaming department and be aware of its somewhat unusual keyboard layout. We will say, however, that this machine is on the edge of greatness. Toss in a high-res display option, a few more ports (SD card slot please) and it would certainly be a top-tier machine in the price range.