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Lenovo IdeaPad U510 Hands-On: Is 15-inches Too Big for an Ultrabook?

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The Lenovo IdeaPad U510 is the new 15.6-inch addition to Lenovo's popular U series of Ultrabooks and, at first glance, it seems like a bargain. For a starting price of $679, you get the U510 with Nvidia GT625M graphics and a DVD drive for those who still want to play DVDs. However, we got to go hands-on with the U510 at Lenvo's IFA Berlin booth and we were not particularly impressed with its size, keyboard or multimedia prowess.

The IdeaPad U510 is listed at 4.8 pounds, but in our hands, this notebook felt even heavier. When you consider the Samsung Series 9 15-inch and 15.-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display weigh in at less than 4 pounds, this is hardly the most portable system around. 

You'd think that a system with discrete graphics and a DVD drive would take advantage of its larger screen by providing better display quality, but you'd be wrong as the IdeaPad U510's 1366 x 768 screen seemed pretty washed out and not as sharp as notebooks with higher pixel densities. Considering that you can now find 13-inch notebooks with full HD screens, a 15-inch screen with the lowest possible resolution is nothing to type home about.

Speaking of typing, the keyboard on the display unit we tested wasn't as sharp and tactile as those on other IdeaPads like the S400 that was just a few feet away from it. Even worse, the keyboard had a noticeable amount of flex, something we'd never expect from Lenovo, a company that's famous for its high-quality keyboards. The metal wrist rest also got a little warm, though mainly toward the right edge of the system.

We did like the matte chrome chassis design, which is identical to the aesthetic on the smaller IdeaPad U310 and IdeaPad U410, both of which came out earlier this year. We were also pleased with the slim, .82-inch thick chassic and its plethora of ports.

However, our initial impression of the IdeaPad U510 is that might just be too heavy to carry around everywhere and its washed out, low-res screen and flexy keyboard make it a poor stationary PC. We look forward to getting a closer look at a final production unit to see if it leaves a better impression.