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The big idea

With an updated version that’s packed with new features, this Lenovo is a top-notch performer, writes Jayesh Mansukhani.

tech reviews Updated: Dec 30, 2008 17:06 IST

Lenovo has just released an updated version of its 13.3” Ideapad U330 and it comes with quite a few feature upgrades.

Form
Lenovo has employed a no-nonsense slim design for the U330 giving it evenly proportioned dimensions of 12.5 x 9.3 x 0.9” - 1.1”. The slim backlit LED panel is built on a solid frame which does not offer any flex on the main body. The laptop’s finish leaves a bit to be desired with its glossy black finish and the lack of choice in colours. The hinges are a bit squeaky and are rather thin.

Connectivity
Though it sports only two USB ports, it makes up by offering an HDMI/VGA display slots, Firewire 400 and a 6-in-1 card reader along with the token dual-layer DVD-RW.

Wireless connectivity included 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.0 EDR. The test piece we received had good specifications — a C2D P8600 processor which runs on a 1066 FSB and a clock speed of 2.4 GHz, 2 GB of RAM, ATI Radeon 3450 chipset and a 320 GB SATA HDD.

Keyboard
This is vintage Lenovo — a nice matte finish on toughened plastic, small grooves that act as sweat deterrent and evenly sized keys that offer lots of typing comfort in feedback and positioning. The only downside is the keyboard lag that occurs while typing, which would require a reboot to fix.

We were able to fix the problem with a reinstall and a new series of updated drivers that we found via Windows Update.

Touchpad
The touchpad is fairly well-designed and offers a decent working area. It has sufficient traction for precise mouse control and two nice ‘deep-click’ mouse buttons that are quite
responsive.

Performance
The laptop performed exceedingly well on the PCMark Vantage test, but it was a no show on the 3DMark Vantage test. Despite several reinstalls, 3DMark would keep crashing and no amount of coaxing made it work. For testing the video capability, we used COD 4 demo and found that the ATI chip was up to the task offering decent levels of game play at a medium graphical setting at the resolution of 1024x768.

In our video samples, we found that the laptop was easily able to decode full HD samples with negligible CPU lag. You can easily use this with your large screen TV. The U330 also aced the battery life test — on a balanced setting, it crossed 3 ½ hours with ease.

LED panel
Taking a leaf out of Apple’s book, this Lenovo piece too has a “zero-frame” in its LED panel instead of the traditional bezel. Here a toughened glass piece holds the LED panel in place which makes it look like there’s greater working area. Looks great, but we have two problems with this.

One, the glass sheet on the LED panel is glossy and reflective, so working in a bright place is hard. Two, viewing angles from the sides are bad.

But, by itself, the LED panel is top notch. Since it’s backlit, it offers significantly enhanced colour, contrast and brightness levels. Text is rich and crisp and movie watching is a joy with great sharpness and zero lag present at the native resolution of 1280x800.

Verdict
At its price point of Rs 67,000, the U330 is an excellent laptop. It offers very good performance levels, a beautifully designed keyboard, great AV experience in the form of a good LED panel and surprisingly good sound. This one comes highly recommended.

http://tech2.in.com/go/55281