Super sleek, lightweight and ultraportable are probably the right words to describe the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s, which we’re about to review. Unlike conventional laptops, Intel’s Ultrabooks basically follow along the lines of a simple recipe – 1 low-power Intel CULV processor that packs in integrated graphics, an SSD in place of an HDD to speed up file transfers and conserve space as well as energy and a unibody chassis to accommodate larger batteries. And by the looks of this offering, Lenovo seems to have done a good job on the U300s.
Package contents and specifications
We’re not so sure about your view on the same, but the overall package design generally takes the product desirability to a whole new level. And that’s exactly the case with the one sent over by Lenovo. Just looking at the box tells you that there’s something very special inside. Unboxing the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s offers a sense of déjà vu. The company has arranged all its contents in a way that highly resembles how board games were boxed, Snakes and Ladders or Ludo anyone? Restless as we were, extracting the notebook from its housing was a bit of a hassle. With the device covered by around 0.5cm of cardboard, there were absolutely no cutouts which could help us lift it out easily. The entire contents of the bundle comprised of the super slim laptop along with an AC adapter and a few guides as well as getting started booklets.
The first thing we did on powering up the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s was to run through its specifications, just to know what we were dealing with here. Running the show within the device was a 32nm 1.60GHz dual core Intel Core i5-2467M processor that’s based on the Sandy Bridge micro-architecture. Well, the CPU’s clocked frequency rate might seem a bit low. But with the Intel Turbo Boost technology, speeds can be easily cranked up when demanded. This also helps conserve battery life to a great extent. Then there’s integrated Intel Graphics 3000 and 4GB of DDR3 SDRAM that operates at 1,333MHz. More from the specs sheet shows a 1.3MP HD webcam, a 128GB SSD, a multi-touch 2-button touchpad, a 13.3-inch HD Glare display housing a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels and a 4-cell Li-polymer battery that’s located within the unibody chassis.
Design and components
Unlike other manufacturers, Lenovo doesn’t seem to be inspired much by the immaculate MacBook Air. Instead of playing copycat like the Asus Zenbook UX31E, the company has adopted somewhat of a unique look. Needless to say, this Beijing-based manufacturer has surely done its homework. Speaking of which, the laptop does flaunt a handbook-like design, specifically the ones with hard cardboard coverings. Its looks aren’t anything to drool over, but owing to its lightweight and super sleek attributes, portability is not compromised at all and should barely even be a concern. The Lenovo IdeaPad U300s comes in 2 different shades, namely clementine orange and graphite gray. The latter is what we picked up for our review and we must say – it’s got professionalism written all over it. Wrapped within a full-aluminum shell, the unibody design portrays a perfect blend of shades with the graphite gray and the black keyboard. The ever so silvery Dell XPS 14z could learn a thing or two on color mixing from the IdeaPad U300s.
Minimalism may be the next ‘in thing’, but it does come at a price. The basic principle of creating a compact device is to drop all the unnecessary components and ones that take up too much space as well. So if you’re expecting to find a host of ports and slots here, let us warn you in advance – there aren’t many. This shouldn’t be a downer as the minimum necessities are met. On the left is a USB port which operates on the 2.0 interface, whilst the right sports a charging port, a 3.5mm audio jack, an HDMI-out socket and a USB 3.0 slot. To complete it, its front edging flaunts 2 LED indicators, one of which depicts that the laptop is turned on, whilst the second is for peeking at the battery status. Well, justice doesn’t seem to be done here. And since when did an Ethernet port or a card reader become redundant? Yes, we know that Ultrabooks are specifically designed for users on the go. So the need of plugging in LAN cables isn’t likely to arise. But what about a card reader? And this isn’t the first time Lenovo has left this particular component out. Let’s pin the tail on the Lenovo Ideapad U260 for this particular notion.
Performance and battery life
As we’ve already mentioned, the CPU in the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s is clocked at 1.6GHz. ‘A tad too slow’ is likely to be anyone’s first impression. But the low frequency is beneficial. Processors clocked lower consume lesser power, thus taking off the load of the 4-cell Li-polymer battery. And when the need for speed arises, the Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 technology kicks in. When it comes to performance, let’s start from scratch here. On pressing the power button, the device took approximately 12 to 15 seconds to start up. However, a 7-second boot did surface surprisingly once in a while. Barely measuring a few millimeters thick, the display brings the best out of Windows 7 by portraying clear and crisp visuals.
On the productivity end, we weren’t hoping for a backlit keyboard and the one employed did meet our expectations. Thanks to the touchpad, we could conveniently zoom in and out of websites, scroll through pages and even switch between tabs by using multi-finger gesture swipes. When it comes down to performance, the PCMark Vintage benchmark software scored the laptop 8,601 points, whilst the ATTO tool derived 259,357Mbps in read and 99,053Mbps in write speeds. To determine the maximum HD video playback time achievable on a single charge, our last test estimated the battery life to be approximately around 4 hours and 45 minutes.
A lightweight form factor with a super sleek design and powerful hardware components are just what the doctor prescribed.
The touchpad on the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s is outstanding and by far, the best we’ve used.
A sub 15-second startup time seems just right for users on the go.
4 hours and 45 minutes of HD video playback on a single charge is really good for a super slim laptop.
Seriously, what’s the harm in providing a full HD display option?
As we started to heat things up with a few tests, the laptop’s lower end, or resting surface, decided to shed some heat of its own.
To wrap things up, the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s presents itself as an ideal companion for frequently mobile users. The combination of a powerful processor capable of delivering 4 hours and 45 minutes of battery life with 4GB of RAM and adequate storage capacity large enough to hoard a few HD movies, videos as well as a vast collection of songs, has earned this Ultrabook an 8.9 out of 10 rating. We’d have probably rounded it off to 9 if Lenovo bothered to slip in a card reader as well. You can pick up this slim beast for a starting price of $1,199.