Call it a netbook if you must, but Lenovo’s U150 shines where many that share the category name crumble and fail. With an 11.6-inch high-resolution display, dual-core processor and a keyboard fit for the novelist, Lenovo’s U150 stands as one of the most livable ultra-portables we’ve tested.
One look at the Lenovo U150 and you might chalk it up to just another netbook. It has the size (about three quarters of an inch thick), and the weight (2.97 pounds) but not the specs. Inside this little guy, you’ll find an 11.6-inch LED-backlit screen with 1366 x 768 resolution, a 1.3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, a 320GB hard drive, and Intel’s GMA X4500 graphics.
Of course, the extra hardware also prices it out of the typical $400 netbook range. As equipped, our review model runs $749, but a more basic model with 3GB RAM and a 280GB hard drive runs a more reasonable $649.
Like all of Lenovo’s IdeaPad notebooks, the U150 comes dressed in bold, love-it-leave-it styling. The lid has been imprinted with a web of interconnected dots and lines – like a diagram of a mesh network torn out of a computer science textbook – that also carries over to a more subtle imprint on the inside wrist rest. We weren’t the biggest fans of the rather busy finish, but can see it finding more fans in a female audience, especially the bright red variant.
To correspond with the specced up hardware, Lenovo has also equipped the U150 with a couple of ports not typically found on your $400 bargain bin netbooks. Most notably, you’ll get a eSATA port for high-speed accessories and HDMI video output on the left-hand side, along with the less distinctive VGA port. Wisely, the eSATA port actually doubles as a USB port, breathing much more life into a powerful-but-niche standard. The right hand side offers a more typical array of two USB ports, Ethernet and power ports, along with dedicated headphone and microphone jacks, and a hard switch for Wi-Fi. The front hides a very discreet SD card slot below the touchpad.
Like the larger U350, build quality on the U150 leaves a bit to be desired – certain plastic panels have a bit more flex than we would like – but the significantly smaller size leads it to feel sturdier than its larger brother, even if the manufacturing process is basically the same. For a netbook, we’ll deal with it, but it doesn’t convey the higher quality that we typically expect when stepping away from that segment to a more premium price-point.