LAS VEGAS--Ultrabooks are everywhere here at CES 2012. More importantly, a new class of ultrabook has emerged: the 14-incher.
Last year's Lenovo IdeaPad U300s was one of our favorites in an early first wave of ultrabooks. The new IdeaPad U310 and U410 alter the equation somewhat with the addition of standard hard drives instead of solid-state drives (SSDs), but that extra storage option could be exactly what attracts some buyers who might otherwise be turned off by the limitations of lower-capacity flash storage.
The 13-inch IdeaPad U310 is 3.74 pounds and .7 inch thin, and now comes in six colors: Ruby Red, Spearmint, Cherry Blossom, Aqua Blue, Graphite Gray, and Sapphire Blue. It comes with up to 4GB of RAM, up to a 500GB hard drive, and an optional extra 32GB SSD cache for faster file access. It's actually a bit thicker and heavier than the IdeaPad U300s we reviewed, but it's also more affordable: the U300s model we looked at cost over $1,000.
The larger IdeaPad U410 has features that are more like a standard laptop, including dedicated Nvidia GeForce 610M graphics. Its design is also, at least with the lid open, very much like a MacBook Pro. It weighs a little more, at 4.18 pounds, and is slightly thicker at .81 inch. It also comes with up to 4GB of RAM and up to 1TB of hard-drive space plus an optional 32GB SSD cache, along with optional WiMax.
Both The U310 and U410 have 1,366x768-pixel screen resolution and two USB 3.0 ports.
The IdeaPad U310 and U410 will be available in May, starting at an extremely affordable $699. If the entry-level model has competitive specs, it would be the most affordable ultrabook we've seen.