Screen and Speakers
The U400 has an anemic 14-inch display. It is no different than those found on budget notebooks; the picture quality is below average. Colors appear dull and washed out. I was surprised at the extremely narrow viewing angles; moving the display just 5 degrees off-center causes distortion. Another issue is the brightness; I found myself wanting a bit more.
Additionally the display suffers from usability issues due to the glossy surface; there are a lot of reflections in well-lit areas.
The speakers are hidden inside the chassis; the sound is muffled and tinny with no bass. This is an example of form over function; ideally the speakers would be behind grilles and project sound into the air. The U400 has a headphone jack; beware that it also functions as the microphone jack, so if you have a headset with two plugs you can only use one of them.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Lenovo recently switched most of its IdeaPad notebooks to a Chiclet or island-style keyboard. The design fits with the MacBook theme. I like how the keyboard is completely integrated and not simply a key tray sitting in a cutout.
What the keyboard has in design it lacks in feel; the feedback is quite linear. The key travel (distance between pressed and resting key positions) is not long enough to allow for a more sophisticated feel. What this all means is that the typing experience simply isn’t engaging. Traditionally-styled keyboards on past IdeaPads I’ve reviewed had a much better feel. Things I like about this keyboard include zero flex and its quietness. I wish the keyboard had backlighting.
The Cypress touchpad is nicely oversized and has an excellent matte surface. This is a clickpad; press down anywhere to produce a click. It's not perfect; clicks take more effort towards the top. For the most part I didn't have accuracy problems though this type of setup is still not as predictable as a standard touchpad with separate buttons. Sometimes my clicks would be slightly off from where I intended them.
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