Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Personal Tech

Ultraportable laptops

Lenovo IdeaPad U300s review

Article comments

If there's a laptop that deserves the moniker "Ultrabook" - a term that Intel introduced (and trademarked) earlier this year for a class of very slim and light laptops - it's the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s. Not because it's faster or beefier than the competition (it's not), but because it actually looks like a thin coffee-table book when closed. It's also the Ultrabook that many in our labs gravitated toward due to its luxuriously minimalist styling and superior input ergonomics. At least they did until they heard it cost $1,595 (£1,221 inc VAT), a price tag that reflects the expense of the U300s's large (256GB) solid-state drive, or SSD.

Despite an Intel Core i7-2677M CPU, 4GB of DDR3 system memory, and that aforementioned 256GB SSD on board, the U300s performance lagged behind the Asus Zenbook UX31e. Still, a WorldBench score of 114 indicates plenty of power for everyday chores. Gaming frame rates delivered by the integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 max out at 31 frames per second at 800 by 600 resolution - with the details turned way down low, which doesn't cut the mustard for modern games.

On the other hand, battery life is six hours and 34 minutes, which compares nicely with the rest of the Ultrabook crowd. At 2.9 pounds it's one of the lighter Ultrabooks, though you won't notice much difference between the heft of the U300s and the Zenbook or the Acer Aspire S3, all of which weigh close to 3 pounds.

Video playback at any resolution is smooth as can be, though you get the usual down-converting issues with 1080p playback on the 13.3-inch, 1366 by 768 display. The colours rendered by the display are rich, but the shiny surface is prone to glare - one of the few questionable design decisions on the U300s. Audio is stellar through headphones, but sounds slightly muffled through the speakers. Tweaking the included SRS sound enhancement software helps tremendously.

The U300S's keyboard is "breathable" (to use Lenovo's term), which is a friendly replacement word for "ventilated." This trick is now used on a number of laptops (notably Apple's) so that no ventilation holes are required on the bottom of the unit where they can be blocked while sitting on your lap. It also means that the unit feels quite cool on your thighs. A ventilation port is on the left edge of the laptop, though.

The keyboard itself has a very nice feel for having such a short stroke (a common problem with ultrathin laptops). That's partially a textural impression - the entire unit has a luxurious feel due to the fine grain on the aluminum case's paint job (available in Clementine Orange and Graphite Gray). The glass, buttonless touchpad is equally satisfying - in lieu of scroll areas, it uses two-finger swiping. So there's no inadvertent straying into the scroll area - nice.

Depending on your needs, you might find the port selection on the U300s lacking. It has a USB 3.0 port for quick data transfers and backup, an HDMI one for video output, plus an additional USB 2.0 port, but that's about it. There's no VGA for older displays, no SD/MMC card slot, no eSATA, and - probably most surprising - no ethernet. The lack of eSATA isn't remediable, but is ameliorated by the presence of USB 3.0. For VGA, SD, and ethernet you'll need USB adapters. Connectivity consists of 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0, as well as WiDi for wireless display.

The U300s is the first laptop I've handled that ships with Microsoft's free Security Essentials in lieu of a trial of pay security software. MSE is just as effective for most users, but stays out of your way unless there's an issue, unlike most pay options. There's no array of junk software either; just Cyberlink's YouCam utility for the 1280 by 720 webcam, a free subscription to Absolute Data Protect for encrypting data and remote disabling of the laptop, Google Chrome, and Cyberlink's OneKey recovery for backing up your system. The latter works in conjunction with a button on the left rear of the U300s that initiates recovery if the bundled Windows 7 Professional operating system stops booting correctly.



Share:

More from Techworld

More relevant IT news

Comments

Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.


Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *