Critics' Report: Lenovo IdeaPad U260 Notebook Computer - Page 2

By Gerry Blackwell
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The View on Display Screen Quality

MobileTechReview offers high praise for the matte glass display. It’s “bright (around 220 nits) and has better than average color saturation,” writes Gade. “It's noticeably easier on the eyes than competing gloss displays and contrast is good even without the gloss layer that increases apparent contrast.”

Engadget’s Stern notes the lack of annoying reflections, good performance in bright sun -- as does the ZDNet review – along with “good viewing angles.”  

Small Business Notebook Performance

The ultra-low voltage (ULV) version of Intel’s i5 dual-core chips used in the U260 are not as fast as the versions used in full-size laptops, but Gade opines that, “the i5 used in the Lenovo U260 is more than fast enough for streaming video full screen, productivity work, Internet apps, Photoshop and more.”

ZDNet’s Kendrick says much the same. “It has good horsepower under the hood and handles all typical tasks with ease. Video playback is quite good…”

CNet’s Ackerman is’t as impressed, noting that he “…found the IdeaPad U260's boot-up time and general responsiveness to be sluggish compared with other laptops…” He blames the slower clock speed of the ULV chip.

Laptop magazine and Engadget both use PCMark benchmark tests and compare the U260’s performance to similar ultraportable small business notebooks, including the 11-inch Apple MacBook Air.

In Laptop's comparisons, the U260 did better than one HP notebook, but not as well as some other small business notebooks, including some that cost less. And it fell well below the performance of the MacBook Air.  

But Butler adds, “In terms of real-world use, the U260 is an able multitasker. At one point, we were downloading Skype, editing a Word document, and playing an episode of Dexter in the background, all without any hiccups.”

Engadget selected comparison notebooks that, with one exception -- an earlier Lenovo ultraportable -- did not perform as well as the U260, but it failed to include some of the models used in Laptop's comparison.

“As one would expect, the machine handled the brunt of our usual computing tasks, including simultaneously writing this review in Microsoft Word, chatting with friends in Trillian, checking our Twitter feed in TweetDeck, and surfing the web with multiple tabs open in Chrome,” writes Engadget’s Stern. “Even when we threw a 720p [HD video] clip into the mix the system was able to keep up.”

Below Average: Battery Life

All of our reviewers condemned the U260’s poor battery life. Two referred to it as the product’s “Achilles heel.”

Laptop magazine, using standardized testing, measured battery life at slightly more than four hours, but noted this was well below the average for the ultraportable category of almost 5.5 hours. ZDNet and MobileTechReview had at it between 3.5 and four hours.

Engadget, using a different standardized test, measured battery life at only 2 hours and 56 minutes. Stern called the poor battery life “simply unacceptable” and judged it a deal killer.

“It's a sad story of an amazingly attractive and solid performing laptop brought down by a single fatal flaw,” she concludes. “But if you can get past the battery life, nearly everything else about the U260 is almost perfect.”

Bottom Line

Most of our reviewers regretfully came to similar conclusions, but for some people, battery life may not be a deal killer -- if you mainly travel between sites where you can plug in, don’t need to work at the computer very long while in transit; or use your car as a traveling office (where you can generally plug in a laptop with the appropriate adapter.)

In that event, the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 appears to be a natural for status- and image-conscious small business owners and senior executives who aren’t willing to make the switch to Apple’s MacBook Air.

Gerry Blackwell is a freelance technology writer based in London, Canada. Read his blog, AfterByte

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This article was originally published on February 01, 2011
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