The Lenovo IdeaPad U410 is the Chinese company's most mainstream Ultrabook yet and is an encouraging example of where the market is heading.

Sure, there is plenty of room for super-skinny, super-slick, ultra-desirable machines with hefty price-tags, but there is also a demand for more affordable portable notebooks.

And the U410 meets the latter with aplomb, by offering a high-end hardware configuration in a mid-level assembly. It's an Ultrabook for the masses.

We liked

The fact that the Lenovo IdeaPad U410 offers both a third-generation Intel core CPU and a dedicated GPU from Nvidia, along with a healthy amount of storage, makes this one of the most-efficient Ultrabooks that we've come across yet.

This is still an Ultrabook remember, so it's not a great machine if you're looking to do some high-end gaming or intense HD video editing but, in terms of raw performance, it outscored both the Acer Aspire S5 and the HP Envy 6 – two direct slimline competitors.

The sound quality of the U410 is also great, thanks to its Dolby Home Theatre V4 audio enhancement tech, and we also liked the Smart Update function, which allows you to always be in touch with your digital lives.

We disliked

Okay, we know that 21mm thick and 1.9kg is fairly lightweight in laptop terms but for an Ultrabook, it's a bit of a chubster.

In fact, it's the maximum thickness that Intel allows for its Ultrabook branding.

However, it's still a nice design, save for a few niggles; most notably the sharp-edged Ethernet port that doesn't seem to fit and the plasticy ventilation grilles.

We also found the trackpad to be a tad over-sensitive, and the poor battery performance was highly disappointing, given the nine-hour promises made by its makers.

Final verdict

There are an abundance of Ultrabooks hitting the market at the moment and a clear trend seems to be emerging.

Manufacturers are having to make the decision between substance and style, between practicality and desirability, and are having to pitch their products into an ever-evolving market with an ever-expanding range of price points.

And while the Lenovo IdeaPad U410 is in no way a bad-looking machine, it's obvious that its Chinese manufacturer has opted for a strong hardware configuration with a bang-average build quality, in order to keep the cost down.

But we think Lenovo has chosen wisely in the case of the U410, which is a brilliant machine that is perfectly suited to meet the demands of the digital media boom that we're in the midst of, with an extremely tempting price tag.