Review: Lenovo IdeaPad U150

Take Lenovo’s budget-minded ThinkPad Edge, shrink that sucker down from a 13-inch screen to an 11.6-inch model, tweak the styling and viola, you’ve got the IdeaPad U150.

With the aforementioned exception of screen size, the U150 seems remarkably familiar, with identical specs across the board as the Edge. Everything from the 320-GB hard drive to the 1.3-GHz Core 2 Duo U7300 CPU to the screen resolution (1366 x 768) is the same. This comes through in testing, too: The two machines turned in virtually identical benchmark performance.

Then why pick one machine over the other? The screen-size issue is the big one to consider, but beyond that, there’s the not-so small concern that the IdeaPad’s design isn’t exactly inspired. Putting gray ink on a shiny silver keyboard ensures that buttons are hard to make out under any lighting condition. Then there’s the glossy black panel that runs along the top of the keyboard, which also clads the top row of keys in the same material. It’s a jarring — and frankly, pretty hideous — design decision that makes the machine feel like it came from an entirely different group than the one responsible for the ThinkPad’s classy, understated design.

Fortunately, the U150 is all business where it counts, but it’s still not quite juicy enough to justify its $750 price tag, an awful lot of money to throw at an 11.6-inch laptop. Compared against either the similarly sized Acer Ferrari One at $600 (and that includes a basic video card instead of integrated graphics) or the more attractive, larger ThinkPad Edge at $900, Lenovo probably have a tough sell ahead of it.

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