Lenovo IdeaPad U400 Review: The Latest MacBook Pro Challenger

by Charles P. Jefferies Reads (80,481)
Editor's Rating
5.71

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Software & Support
    • 8
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 2
    • Usability
    • 6
    • Design
    • 7
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Features
    • 5
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 5
    • Total Score:
    • 5.71
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Overview

  • Pros

    • Good build quality
    • Good battery life
    • Solid overall performance
  • Cons

    • No keyboard backlighting
    • Anemic display
    • No media card reader
    • Not user upgradeable

Quick Take

The Lenovo IdeaPad U400 offers good looks and good performance at a fair price, but an average screen and lack of media card reader might kill the deal.


The 14-inch all-metal IdeaPad U400 is an impressive MacBook Pro competitor that offers good performance and six hours of battery life for $879. Keep reading to find out if Lenovo can deliver a killer premium notebook at a fair price.

Build and Design
The IdeaPad U400 is a departure from the standard Lenovo IdeaPad notebooks of the past; it has a metal exoskeleton instead of the plastic (albeit sturdy) shells that have dominated this line for a long time. As few pieces of metal as possible were used in the construction, lending the U400 a clean look. At less than an inch thick and 4.3 pounds the U400 is easy to carry around.

The actual design of the U400s is reminiscent of the Apple MacBook; it’s a little too similar for my taste. It’s clean but not sophisticated. The build quality is excellent overall; there is no chassis flex. The metal lid provides good protection; pressing in on the back doesn’t yield any ripples on the screen. The lid can be opened with one hand and that is very convenient. Something I don’t like about the design is the rather sharp edge around the display and bottom of the chassis; a more rounded-off design is preferred.

Those planning to upgrade the U400 should think again; this notebook has no user-accessible panels for changing out the memory or hard drive. Additionally the battery is not removable. If you’re looking at this notebook as a Apple competitor then it makes sense: Most MacBook owners don’t upgrade components.

Ports and Features
The U400 has a scant selection of ports; it has three USB ports (one of which is USB 3.0), HDMI, and a slot-load DVD burner. It lacks VGA (remember this if you need to hook up to projectors), DisplayPort, and shockingly enough, there’s no media card reader; I can’t remember the last time I reviewed a notebook (or even a netbook) without one. Those of you with digital cameras – be prepared to carry around a USB adapter for your SD cards.

Lenovo is taking a gamble that most of its customer base will not need extra ports – it’s a rather risky gamble in this reviewer’s opinion. Something else I’m not sold on is the lack of status lights; there is no hard drive or wireless indicator lights. There is a very faint power light on the front of the chassis; the power button itself is not illuminated. All picture descriptions shown below are listed from left to right.


Front: Nothing

Back: Nothing

Left: Cooling exhaust vent, Ethernet, USB 3.0 port

Right: Headphone/microphone combo jack, 2x USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, slot-load DVD drive, AC power jack


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