The Lenovo IdeaPad U450p is a strong proposition. While performance and build quality are good, there's also the inclusion of an optical drive – relatively rare in a CULV laptop – which will prove a selling point for some.

The disc drive enables you to read and write DVDs without issue and saves you the hassle of carrying an external drive. This makes watching films and backing up data, for example, easy when on the move.

The 14-inch panel shares the same 1366 x 768-pixel resolution as its competitors and is detailed enough for everyday use. It's not the brightest screen we've seen, however, and the shiny Super-TFT screen doesn't suppress reflections well, which can prove irritating when used in bright light conditions.

Lenovo has steered clear of the use of shiny styling and has employed a mottled, chequered design instead. It's a durable surface which doesn't scratch or show up dirt easily and so always looks great.

Build quality is generally good, but a few of the chassis panels flex under moderate pressure – realistically this shouldn't prove too much of durability issue, however.

Lenovo build

Dedicated volume controls are also embedded next to the keyboard, providing you with a quick and easy way of altering the volume of your music or movies.

The keyboard is poorly mounted into the chassis, resulting in a bit of flex, but this doesn't affect the sharp and concise typing action too severely. The keys are large, comfortable and tapered, meaning mistakes are few and far between.

Everyday performance is good, with the CULV processor and 4096MB of memory running the operating system and various office programs without issue.

The laptop also boasts Lenovo's Enhanced Experience for Windows software which aims, amongst other things, to boot and shut down the laptop significantly quicker than other machines, but we found little difference from the competition.

3D performance

The dedicated ATi graphics card, alongside its 512MB of graphics memory, provides good 3D performance and will suit those keen to edit photos or perform other multimedia tasks on the go.

Portability is decent and, while this isn't the lightest CULV laptop, it's still comfortable to carry all day. The battery life, at 364 minutes, is also impressive.

802.11n Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet are included, as are three USB ports for your peripherals and also VGA and HDMI ports for connecting external monitors.

The Lenovo IdeaPad U450p is a decent CULV laptop with good power and the bonus of an included optical drive. It's not the cheapest machine, but it is certainly worth a look.

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