Lenovo's IdeaPad family of notebooks is the company's multimedia/entertainment series, as opposed to the business-optimized ThinkPad line or the budget-oriented Essential line. The editors at NotebookReview.com didn't have an overwhelmingly positive opinion about the 12.5-inch Lenovo IdeaPad U260, but contributor Daniel P. Dern wanted to chime in with his own take on the ultraportable U260.
The IdeaPad U260 is Lenovo's (and, according to the company, the industry's) first 12.5-inch (widescreen display) laptop. The U260 has no internal hardware configuration options to alter the base MSRP of $1,199.00, not even a solid-state disk (SSD) instead of the hard drive. You can, of course, add service or warranty options, along with third-party software and peripherals, which will bring the system price up.
Remember, the base warranty is for just one year. Upgrades start at $39, up to $229 for the 3-year In-Home Warranty + 3-year LenovoCare Notebook Protection. Having had in-home service for my old IBM ThinkPad -- including a round by Lenovo after IBM sold them the trademark and product line -- I can speak positively to service quality, and the great convenience of not having to pack the notebook up for shipping and trust it won't get whacked by shippers or remote fixers.
Before buying, start by checking the Lenovo site for sales; I've seen prices of $999 and even $849 on various days. As for whether that price is good, a bargain, or bad, remember that notebooks aren't always comparable commodities, even with the same weight and size class.
Build and Design
Lenovo's IdeaPad family is intended for style-conscious users, compared with the quietly professional-looking, all-black business-oriented ThinkPad family. The unit feels reassuringly solid, without being too heavy -- even with the small lightweight AC adapter and its cords, you can carry this around all day without any strain or inconvenience. And the chassis feels solid; when I carefully twisted the edges, it didn't seem to bend.
The IdeaPad U260 has a magnesium-alloy shell, with "metallic brushed" and "textured patterns etched into the cover," according to Lenovo. Translation, it feels smooth but not slippery. The U260 comes in either Clementine Orange or Mocha Brown color, has rounded corners, and the top is blank except for a small silver Lenovo logo. The inside is black except for keyboard markings and the light-up indicators. Speakers are at the top just inside the hinges -- nearly invisible if you don't look carefully for the grill areas.
The bezel around the 12.5-inch display is about half an inch on each side. The 1.75-inch by 3.25-inch two-button touchpad is centered next to the lower edge of the base, making for comfortable typing. The display lid opens smoothly -- up to 140 degrees, it won't lie flat. The only other design feature I'll mention at this point is that the U260 includes Lenovo's Active Protection System that protect the hard drive from shocks.
Ports and Features
The U260 has two USB 2.0 ports (one on each side), Ethernet, Ethernet, HDMI and VGA, audio, and a security lock slot. There's a physical Wi-Fi on/off slide switch, and a light-up indicator above the keyboard. The power button is just above the keyboard, on the middle of the left side, and lights up clearly to confirm that power is on. There are no slots for SD cards or other media and the ports are all on the sides; the front and back are solid. Cooling vents are on the bottom towards the back.
The U260 also has an integrated 0.3MP camera, at the center top, which, among other things, can be used for VeriFace facial-recognition login, using your face instead of a keyboarded password. (Caution: VeriFace apparently can be fooled by a picture, like one displayed on a phone.
VeriFace works reasonably well except in too-low light (you can bypass this on a per-event basis and use password login instead -- or turn all login security.) If you're not an authorized user, VeriFace also lets you then record a video/audio message for a specified user.
VeriFace takes and saves pictures of unauthorized users -- if you do try to login via VeriFace, it warns you that it's taking your picture and sending it off (assuming it can).
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