The Bottom Line
Mar 6 2012 - Lenovo's IdeaPad U300s is a pretty decent Ultrabook on the surface. It has a nice all metal construction which many models lack and the keyboard and trackpad are some of the best available. The big problem is that Lenovo's pricing is trying to compete with Apple's MacBook Air 13 but fails to provide a compelling alternative. It lacks the display to compete and is larger and heavier. In addition to this, it is possible to get similarly equipped Ultrabooks for several hundred less now. So, if you type a lot, this may be a solid choice but there are just too many alternatives that are slightly better in other ways.
- All Metal Exterior
- Excellent Keyboard And Trackpad
- Priced High For The Features
- Keyboard Isn't Backlit
- No SD Card Slot
- Intel Core i7-2467M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-8500 DDR3 Memory
- 128GB Solid State Drive
- 13.3" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 3000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless
- One USB 3.0, One USB 2.0, HDMI
- 12.8" x 8.5" x .6" @ 2.9 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter
Review - Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
Mar 6 2012 - Lenovo's IdeaPad U300s is their first ultrabook that is based around their standard design elements found in their other IdeaPad U series laptops but in a thinner profile. This means that the laptop has a more traditional shape with a slight slope compared to the extremely tapered design of the Apple MacBook Air. It does take a very similar all aluminum construction similar as Apple but goes with a few unique design queues including the option for a clementine orange design or the more traditional graphite gray.
Performance from the IdeaPad U300s is pretty typical thanks to the Intel Core i5-2467M dual core processor that is found in most of the entry level ultrabooks. The dual core processor should provide sufficient performance for the average user. It comes with a base 4GB of DDR3 memory which is the standard amount for an ultrabook but less than what most traditional laptops include. Only more demanding tasks such as desktop video are really going to show that it is indeed a bit slower than a standard Core i5-2410M processor. General performance does seem smoother though because of the speedy storage drive.
Storage features for the IdeaPad U300s are fairly typical of an entry level ultrabook equipped with a solid state drive. It features a 128GB capacity that does have its limitations if this is a primary computer system but the performance is quite good. Boot times were a bit better than average at just over 30 seconds but they still trailed behind Apple's MacBook Air 13 and Dell's XPS 13 which are nearly twice as fast. If you do need additional storage space, Lenovo has included a new USB 3.0 port for use with high speed external storage. One big disappointment though is the lack of an SD card slot that even Apple is able to fit on its extremely thin design.
With its pricing of the IdeaPad U300s from Lenovo, the comparisons are going to be with the Apple MacBook Air 13 and ASUS Zenbook UX31. In terms of the display, the IdeaPad U300s falls behind both of these. The 13.3-inch display comes with a fairly typical 1366x768 resolution. By contrast, Apple includes a 1440x900 display and ASUS includes a 1600x900 one. The color and brightness are quite good but viewing angles are limited. Only those viewing it directly on will get a good view of the picture. Tilting the screen forward dims the screen heavily while viewing from the left or right shifts colors. As for the graphics themselves, it uses the standard Intel HD Graphics 3000 that are built into the processor just like every other ultrabook. This is fine for most things but it lacks 3D performance for even casual PC gaming. It does offer some acceleration for encoding media files when using QuickSync compatible applications.
Lenovo is well known for their keyboards and the IdeaPad U300s continues this. It is a bit different from their other keyboards due to the limited space. For instance, the keys are flat and it has fairly shallow travel. It makes up for this with a very sturdy feel and accurate typing. The only downside is that they keyboard is not backlit like most of the competition. The trackpad uses a large surface with integrated buttons but it is done extremely well. The surface is smooth and tracks accurate even with multitouch gestures.
Lenovo doesn't publish the capacity rating for the internal battery on the IdeaPad U300s but instead states that it will run for roughly 8 hours of productive usage. In video playback testing, it was able to run for for just under five and a quarter hours. This puts it pretty close to much of the competition and slightly ahead of Apple's MacBook Air 13. The HP Folio 13 and Toshiba Portege Z835 both provide longer running times.
The big issue here with the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s is the pricing. The list price for the tested model is $1599. Now, with specials, it is possible to get it for $1199. This discount is certainly $100 cheaper than the MacBook Air 13 but slightly more expensive than a similarly equipped Dell XPS 13. So, either you can spend a little more and get a thinner laptop with better performance or spend less and get something that performs just as well and offers better styling.