While Windows 8 has yet to woo consumers over to its finger-friendly interface en masse, Lenovo seems to have caught touch-screen fever in full force. A new, touch-equipped version of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon crossed our labs just days ago, and today, Lenovo announced that a quadruplet of consumer laptops are receiving swipe-tastic touch-screen updates of their own.
As with the Carbon refresh, the IdeaPad Z400 Touch, IdeaPad Z500 Touch, IdeaPad U310 Touch and IdeaPad U410 Touch sport the same basic hardware configurations as the non-touch-equipped models.
The standard versions of the IdeaPad U310 and IdeaPad U410 impressed us with their blend of portability, performance and pretty looks. We haven't had an opportunity to test the Z-series IdeaPad laptops, which are heavier than Ultrabooks but a claimed 25 percent slimmer than average portable PCs. The Z-series — including the Touch models — can be configured to include a Core i7 processor, 1TB of mechanical storage and discrete Nvidia Graphics, though you won't find that kind of firepower in the lower-priced versions. These more mainstream laptops also pack larger 14- to 15.6-inch displays and DVD drives, unlike the U310 and U410 Ultrabooks.
One thing to keep an eye on will be the battery life of these new touch-equipped laptops. Early Windows touch-screen devices have been plagued by poor battery life, including some of Lenovo's own offerings. The ThinkPad Twist is an otherwise excellent hybrid brought low by its appallingly short 4.5-hour battery life, while the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch's charge lasts a full two hours less than its non-touch counterparts. The IdeaPad U310 and U410 weren't quite all-day performers in our tests, and shaving an extra two hours of battery life off the top would plunk them firmly into the Twist's short-lived range.
The IdeaPad U310 Touch and IdeaPad Z500 Touch will be available in March starting at $779 and $699, respectively, while the IdeaPad U410 Touch and IdeaPad Z400 Touch will hit the streets in April sporting $850 and $699 price tags in turn. Those prices are roughly $100 premiums over the non-touch versions.