Battery Life, Portability, Software and Other FeaturesBattery Life and Portability
Throwing the U260 into a bag for travel is a cinch. It’s so thin, and so light, that the added bulk is nearly impossible to notice in any messenger bag or backpack. Despite having a larger display, the U260 feels more portable than most netbooks because of its thin profile. While I remain of the opinion that a 13.3” display is the best compromise of portability and functionality, the 12.5” on the U260 is close and provides a nice alternative for buyers who, for whatever reason, find 13.3” laptops to be just slightly too large.
This, however, is where we come to the U260’s one catch. So far, the laptop has been praised for its size, weight, and quality. Given all of these traits, and the $899 starting price, there is inevitably a trade-off. And that’s battery life.
Because the U260 is so small and slim, Lenovo was only able to squeeze in a 4 cell battery, which is integrated into the chassis. There is only so much that can be squeezed for a battery of that size, and so we end up with a result of two hours and twelve minutes in the battery eater stress test. In real-world usage (mixed web surfing and word processing) the U260 lasted just over three hours and thirty minutes before having to pack it in.
If this theme sounds familiar, it may be because I ran into similar drawbacks with the Lenovo T410s, another exceptionally thin and light system brought down by poor battery life. However, the U260 is a consumer product, which means the expectations are a bit different. While some consumers will need better battery life, many won’t. Given the size of the U260, I’m willing to partially excuse this flaw. Simply consider yourself warned. The U260 may be portable, but it isn’t great for travel.
Other Features and Software
Unlike most Lenovo laptops, the IdeaPad U260 didn’t come with the Lenovo Enhanced Experience software suite installed. I was actually bummed to see this, because Lenovo’s EE is a decent batch of programs – I particularly like the wireless hotspot utility, which I think is better to use than the standard Windows wireless networking interface.
Instead of Enhanced Experience, the U260 is loaded with just a few utilities, including Lenovo Smile Dock, Lenovo DirectShare and Lenovo Security Suite. Smile Dock is a very silly piece of software that puts a small smiley face (without eyes) on your desktop. When you click on it, a dock opens, providing access to difficult to find items such as your email and the local weather. Yes, that was sarcasm – this just another bloatware dock that most users will want to uninstall immediately.
DirectShare is a simple sync program, not unlike the many freeware sync programs available online. It’s useful, but other solutions do the same thing better. Lenovo Security Suite sounds the most promising, but alas, it’s actually similar to the Smile Dock. It doesn’t provide unique functionality, but is instead another way of opening basic Windows security options like Backup and Recovery and Screen Saver Passwords. Only the Active Protection System is worth diving into, but it would have been better to just put an Active Protection System shortcut on the desktop.