Ultrabooks provide a new standard in performance and portability by which all laptops will likely be measured in the future. The term is actually an Intel trademark, and it includes a number of technologies specifically targeted at increased battery life and rapid start up from both a powered-off and a sleep state. It also includes an equally important light-and-slim design that makes the devices easier to carry than heavier small business notebooks.
All of those features interest anyone who needs to use a laptop-like device while away from the office. The key to choosing the right device is in knowing the features you absolutely must have and which ones you can do without.
One of the features that you trade for the rapid startup, longer battery life and lighter weight is a built-in CD/DVD drive. Most small business workers can probably do without a DVD drive unless, for example, you like watching movies while traveling on an airplane.
Standard Small Business Notebook Equipment
Weighing in at 3 pounds and a svelte 0.7 inches thick, the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 Ultrabook definitely qualifies as an Ultrabook. Thin doesn't translate to limited functionality, however, as you'll find a zippy Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of memory pretty much standard fair.
Figure 1: The IdeaPad U310 Ultrabook features a large trackpad with a slim-and-light design.
You can choose from three different CPU options including two Intel Core i3 models and the Intel Core i5 used in our test model. Windows 7 Home Premium edition operating system comes standard, so make sure it does everything you need to do or go with an upgrade.
The U310's quick startup comes from the Intel-designed RapidBoot technology that incorporates a combination of a solid state disk (SSD) and a traditional hard drive, plus some special software. The Lenovo U310 uses a 32 GB SSD device onboard to provide fast access to boot and other frequently-accessed files for quick retrieval. Lenovo's Enhanced Experience 3 combines the RapidBoot technology along with optimized system files and settings to further improve overall responsiveness.
The U310 is very quick to wake up from a sleep state as well. A 500 GB drive is the only size choice although you can opt out of the 32 GB SSD if you'd like. The U310 Ultrabook offers a unique feature in the form of a recovery button that launches a data backup and restore tool that's independent of the operating system. This makes it possible to restore the system to a recent backup or back to its original state should you so desire.
Here's a list of specs for the unit we reviewed:
- Intel Core i5 processor
- Windows(r) 7 Ultimate
- 13.3-inch HD display, 16:9 widescreen
- Intel(r) GMA 3000 HD graphics
- 4GB DDR3 memory
- 500GB HDD storage and 32GB SSD cache
- Stereo speakers with Dolby Home Theatre V4 audio enhancement
- Integrated Bluetooth(r)1, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
- USB2.0, USB3.0, HDMI connectors and a 2-in-1 card reader
- Integrated 720p HD webcam
The U310's large touchpad measures roughly 4-inches wide by 2.75-inches tall and sits slightly to the left of center below the keyboard. It has a clickable surface from around the midpoint toward the outer edge of the case with a noticeable difference in the "click" the closer you get to the outer edge.
There's also a vertical line on the bottom of the pad indicating the left- and right-mouse click functionality. Because of the large surface area, the U310 incorporates a palm rejection technology to help eliminate inadvertent mouse movement from touching while typing. This eliminates the majority of problems but doesn't catch them all.
One of the touchpad's interesting features is that it uses multi-finger gestures. Dragging two fingers up or down on the touchpad scrolls the screen up or down in much the same way a wheel does on a typical mouse. A pinching motion zooms out with an appropriate application while the opposite motion zooms you back in.
The down side of this particular motion comes into play when you need to perform a common click-and-drag operation to cut and paste text. If you aren't careful, you'll find yourself zooming when you meant to be marking. The good news is you can totally disable the touchpad with a single key press, and then turn it right back on the same way.