Lenovo IdeaPad U300s Ultrabook Review

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Dell decided to make a point of highlighting the display in the XPS 13 ultrabook with edge-to-edge glass, while Lenovo takes a more traditional approach here, with a thin metal trimmed bezel.  That said, the IdeaPad U300's display easily measures-up from an image quality standpoint and we were appreciative of its slightly wider opening hinge. It really helps when you're standing over the machine when set on a counter top, for example.  Also, the display seemed to have slightly brighter output and modestly better viewing angles.  There's more bezel here, sure, and as a result it's a slightly wider machine by a little over a quarter of an inch.  Right, not much, and we were okay with that.

Ahh but here's where the rubber meets the road for Lenovo's U300s, it's the keyboard.  If there's another area almost as critically important as a notebook's display, the keyboard would have to be it and Lenovo delivered in spades.  If the U300s' keyboard was backlit, we would have been overcome with geek joy.  The keyboard on this machine is really that nice.  In fact, I took the machine in hand specifically to write a good portion of this review, just because the learning curve was non-existent for me and that's coming from a high quality Deck mechanical desktop model.  Lenovo offers just the right amount of key travel and the key caps seem to almost cradle your finger tips.  Typing on this machine was a real pleasure, so much so that I almost wouldn't need the backlight at all.

The U300s' touchpad supports gestures and has a clean tactile feel when actuating its two button controls.  Gesture support was also surprisingly fluid.  Pinch and zoom controls in a web browser were actually somewhat useful, not something we can say for so many notebooks that just can't seem to pull this off for some reason.

The U300s' main body construction is a straight-up aluminum slab that is machined with very few separate pieces.  Venting on the side of the system emits a very faint whine under load that is completely dismissible.  Under less workload, this ultrabook is virtually silent.  Part of the reason for the U300s' low audible profile is its breathable keyboard area.  The palm rest also remains completely cool under extended use as well.  However, keep in mind, a breathable keyboard obviously isn't air-tight, so it's certainly not water-tight.   In other words, don't accidentally tip that happy hour special in its general vicinity, if you catch our drift.

At .58 inches thick, the U300s is without a doubt a razor thin machine.  Regardless, Lenovo was able to squeeze not only a USB 3.0 port but also a full-sized HDMI port into this machine, in addition to a standard USB port; but alas, no SD card slot.  We have yet to see an SD card slot in an ultrabook actually and it's perplexing.

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scrEaMingmANgo 2 years ago

So, I guess the new generation portable pc has no DVD/CD drive huh? Makes sense. Would it stand against a MacBook Pro on thgraphics aspects? Sure would like to know.

Dave_HH 2 years ago

scrEaMingmANgo, The 13-inch MacBook Pro has a very similar processor with integrated graphics. So, yes, this machine would compete relatively well versus the Apple product.

CDeeter 2 years ago

Are there enough benchmarks that would run on both Macs and Ultrabooks that you could start to include the Mac in these comparisons, since that's the whole point of Ultrabooks to begin with?

BMiller2 2 years ago

In previous laptop models I found 8GB of memory to be important and yet this Ultrabooks category seems to be 4GB. Is there something that is making 8GB unnecessary?

Dave_HH 2 years ago

Technically, 8GB has always been unnecessary. 4GB in the average notebook these days is fairly robust for most usage models, especially an ultralight like this. If you're working with large amounts of HD video or other heavy workloads, it might come in handy but for the most part, 4GB is enough for many usage models.

shangbuqi 2 years ago

. So, yes, this machine would compete relatively well versus the Apple product.

AReitz 2 years ago

8GB has always been unnecessary? As a computer programmer, I must completely disagree! To proclaim that, because the masses don't need it, it must be "always unnecessary" is completely false.

haplessgeek 2 years ago

We tested the 13.3" 6GB RAM version that is being in sold in India. Check out our review at: http://www.haplessgeek.com/2012/04/analyzed-lenovo-ideapad-u300s-ultrabook.html

swb_mct 2 years ago

A lot of people over 40 wish they could buy one of these, but the high screen resolution makes everything too small for their eyes. This unit has a PPI (pixels/inch) of 117.83.   With reading glasses optimized for computer use, I still can't use a notebook over 100 PPI.

The ZOOM feature in browsers and MS Office helps but ZOOM does not help with system objects such as Menus.

The custom DPI setting in Windows helps, but this settings causes the fonts in many applications to spill out of their menu boxes or form fields.

I know that many readers can't relate to this issue, but notebook makers are shutting out 30% of their potential market by only offering Ultra-High res wide screens.

This PPI calculator may be helpful for those who are shopping with screen resoltuion as a primary criteria.

PPI Calculator:

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