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Lenovo IdeaPad U300s review

Tom Morgan
8 Dec 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
921
inc VAT

Another great Ultrabook design, but a slower processor and a couple of missing ports place it just behind the current leaders

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Specifications

13.3 in 1,366x768 display, 1.3kg, 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-2467M, 4.00GB RAM, 128GB disk, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Launching several months after the first wave of Ultrabooks, the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s has some catching up to do. A quick glance at the spec sheet might not reveal anything outstanding, but in the flesh the U300s is easily one of the most pleasant-to-use Ultrabooks we’ve tried so far.

Lenovo is best known for its business machines, so it comes as no surprise that the U300s has a somewhat reserved design – the brushed metal finish is a monochrome grey rather than startling silver and unlike other Ultrabooks, which when closed taper to a point, the chassis is a consistent 15mm thick throughout. This is still incredibly thin, and the added thickness make the laptops feel more rigid. There was still a small amount of flex in the display bezel, but the main body stayed firm in our hands.

Lenovo IdeaPad U300s

Although it has space for ports all the way around its chassis, Lenovo has only fitted two USB ports, a full-size HDMI output and a combination audio jack to the U300s. Only one USB port supports the faster USB3 standard, and there’s no card reader slot or network port. This puts it at a disadvantage to Toshiba’s Portege Z830, which has both, but you’ll still be able to connect to wireless networks and devices using 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Intel's WiDi wireless display technology.

Lenovo IdeaPad U300s

What the U300s lacks in connectivity it more than makes up for it in display quality. The 13.3in display has a 1,366x768 resolution, which is slightly low considering the price of the laptop, but images look incredibly sharp and colours are beautifully vibrant. Oddly, given Lenovo’s business heritage, the U300s has a glossy screen finish that can reflect overhead light sources, but has higher contrast and more vibrant colours than many matte screens. Viewing angles are wide and there’s plenty of screen tilt, so you should be able to angle the screen to avoid too much reflection.

The U300s uses the processor's integrated graphics to power the display, so although you’ll have no trouble watching video, you’ll struggle to play games at a decent frame rate. We saw a jerky 13.1fps in our Dirt 3 test, so you’ll either have to dial down the details and resolution or stick to older titles to make things playable.