For most users, the 14-inch Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch is the best cheap laptop you can buy. This touch-enabled thin and light Ultrabook uses the latest technology for terrific performance and battery life, and tops things off with great ergonomics, a quality aluminum case and a reasonable price tag.
Power and endurance. Unless you are a competitive gamer, the Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch can handle just about any task you throw at it, and run all day without a trip to the battery charger. That's because it includes the latest Intel Core i5 processor with Haswell technology. The rest of the hardware lineup boasts 4 GB of memory, a 500 GB hard drive with a 16 GB flash cache, and a 14-inch touch screen. Testers try to bring this cheap laptop to its knees by loading it down with multiple tasks, but the U430 Touch sails through.
One of the big advantages of Haswell technology is long battery life and this Ultrabook delivers, nearly 8.5 hours in tests at Laptop Magazine. The integrated Intel HD4400 graphics are great for everyday productivity and casual gaming, but if you want to play the latest high-end games at their maximum resolution, you'll want to look elsewhere and be prepared to pay considerably more.
A great keyboard. Lenovo is known for its terrific keyboards, and the one on the U430 Touch is no exception. "A joy to use," says David Eitelbach at ComputerShopper.com. It's backlit, with little sign of keyboard flex, all reports say. The 14-inch screen supports 10-point touch and is nicely responsive, but the trackpad comes in for some criticism. Most note issues with the integrated mouse buttons, saying that the line separating the right and left buttons is either inaccurate or the right button is so small that clicking it is "a frustrating exercise," as Eitelbach says.
The IdeaPad U430 Touch's touch screen is responsive. Some wish the resolution were higher than 1,600 by 900, but competing Ultrabooks rarely do better and some are even lower-resolution. Voice and gesture control are among the installed applications; while some like those, others say they are gimmicky.
Premium look. Various reviewers use the words "classy" and "elegant" to describe the U430 Touch's matte-finish, aluminum exterior. It also does fairly well at fighting off fingerprints, ComputerShopper.com reports. Although it's classified as an Ultrabook, the U430 Touch is just a bit bulkier and heavier than average for the category.
A mixed bag. Lenovo gets mixed ratings in support and customer satisfaction ratings. Tech support finishes in third place in one large survey but gets a lackluster C-plus in testing by Laptop Magazine; this is a downward trend that sees the brand falling from a B grade just two years ago. For its part, Lenovo says it is taking steps to improve things, including streamlining its internal processes and hiring staff to specifically deal with queries sent via Twitter. It earns runner-up status in Laptop Magazine's evaluation of best laptop brands due in part to six of its laptops receiving that site's Editors' Choice award over the previous year, and it is a mid-pack finisher in PCMag.com's Readers' Choice voting.
Unbeatable for this price. With an elegant if understated design, great ergonomics, good performance and a responsive touch screen, this Lenovo Ultrabook's price tag seems more than reasonable. One catch for U.S. buyers: The only place to get the IdeaPad U430 Touch is at BestBuy.com or its stores.
The Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch earns an Editors' Choice award here. Joel Santo Domingo calls it "the entry-level ultrabook to get."
Review: Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch, Joel Santo Domingo, Sept. 30, 2013
2. Computer Shopper
ComputerShopper.com also gives an Editors' Choice award to the Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch. Compromises are few and pluses are many, making it "the budget ultrabook to beat."
Review: Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch Review and Ratings, David Eitelbach, Oct. 18, 2013
3. PC World
"If you think an Ultrabook is out of your price range, you haven't seen Lenovo's IdeaPad U430 Touch," says PCWorld's Michael Brown. He calls it a terrific value, adding that it carries over many of the features -- such as an "exceptionally good keyboard" -- that make Lenovo laptops popular among corporate users. It earns 4 out of 5 stars.
Review: Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch Review: A Daily Driver With All-day Battery Life, Michael Brown, Sept . 23, 2013
The Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch is among the many laptops -- including lots of cheap laptops -- reviewed by ConsumerReports.org. It is rated on factors such as performance and ergonomics, and ranked against other laptops.
Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Ultrabook U430-59371574, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
5. Laptop Magazine
Laptop Magazine grants the Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch a rating of 4 stars out of 5. "While it doesn't have category-leading performance and its display could be better, the U430 Touch is a great value for those who want a touch-screen notebook you can take anywhere," says Joe Osborne.
Review: Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch Review, Joe Osborne, Sept. 6 , 2013
Best Buy is the only U.S. retailer of the Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch, and its website is home to about 120 user reviews. Satisfaction is high overall: It earns 4.4 stars out of 5 and an impressive 92 percent of owners say they would recommend it to a friend.
Review: Lenovo - IdeaPad Ultrabook 14" Touch-Screen Laptop - 4GB Memory - 500GB Hard Drive - Gray, Contributors to BestBuy.com, As of January 2014
Wired delivers the most negative assessment of the Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch, especially in context with the majority of reviews. The touchpad is called "barely functional" and the display a "disaster." Notably, the keyboard that is soundly praised by virtually all other reviewers is called "unfortunate" here.
Review: Lenovo IdeaPad U430 Touch, Christopher Null, Dec. 16, 2013