We have been promised 30 new ultrabooks this winter and Lenovo is not going to sit on a stand by. We have been waiting for thinner and faster ultrabook and hoping to start seeing this new wave of cool, light and portable notebooks for little less money. Acer Chairman J.T. Wang recently said he would like to see ultrabooks for under $700. Perhaps it is a bit ambitious in 2011, but we’ll get there hopefully in the coming year. Let us now take a look at a very solid contender in the same category of ultrabooks.
The Lenovo IdeaPad U300s features the most appealing design of any ultraportable we’ve seen – flat and angular with a chic muted orange trim. A basic silver model is also on offer. The flagship IdeaPad U300s brandishes a Core i7 CPU and a 13.3-inch screen, with a 256GB SSD. All in a shell which measures 0.6 inches at its thickest point.
The base configuration of IdeaPad U300s comes with an i5 processor and a smaller 128GB SSD, matching the MacBook Air basic spec, and costing $100 less at $1195. The review model on the other hand is well-specced to beat off the competition and costs $1595, priced almost identically to a comparable MacBook Air ($1599). The Lenovo IdeaPad U300 features a sandblasted aluminum unibody with top and bottom overhang to give it its sharp, angular appearance. It weighs just 2.9 pounds. The orange model offers a matte black interior with its keyboard slightly sunken, which helps Lenovo provide better key travel than otherwise possible on such a shallow chassis.
The 13.3-inch display with 1366 x 768 pixel resolution is typical of the 13.3-inch ultrabook format, and the display is first-rate; bright, sharp and with good contrast.
The Lenovo IdeaPad U300 offers a good selection of ports, besting the MacBook Air with a USB-3 port and HDMI, both lacking on Apple category leader. There’s also a USB-2 port. Yet VGA socket and SDcard slot are both missing, as is a separate mic input. And although WiFi-n and Bluetooth are provided, there’s no Ethernet cable socket. Of course, USB external devices can remedy these shortfalls, but for everyday use that can be far from ideal. Intel Wireless Display technology allows you to stream video output to a separately-sold receiver box, which you can connect to a TV or monitor, a useful tool for giving presentations or watching vids.
Lenovo have opted for an Apple style unified glass touchpad with integrated mouse buttons rather than the traditional touchpad and separate mouse buttons seen on the Toshiba Z835 ultrabook.
There’s Computrace LoJack for added security, albeit a limited trial subscription, should your pricey ultrabook end up in the wrong hands. The heart of the IdeaPad U300s is its Intel Core i7-2677M processor backed by 4GB RAM and in benchmarks the U300s outperformed both the Acer Aspire S3 and Samsung Series 9, although not matching the Core i5 MacBook Air.
Battery life is a crucial consideration for an ultraportable. Unsurprisingly, the IdeaPad U300s can’t equal the olympian endurance of the MacBook Air, but it nevertheless beats the Acer Aspire S3 into submission, delivering a very decent 5 hrs 14 minutes of video-looping. The Air gives a further hour and a half, proving that unless you specifically want a Windows machine, or prefer the looks of the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s, the MacBook looks the better deal. Just don’t forget that most people will very rarely tax the internal hardware of an i7 ultrabook, and anyone needing to edit video or perform other ultra-demanding tasks might want to look at a less slimmed-down piece of kit, one containing a dedicated graphics card at least. The main selling point of an ultraportable is capable computing in a tiny frame, and the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s fits the bill admirably.
Enjoy these Lenovo IdeaPad U300s pictures:
Here is CNET video review of IdeaPad U300s:
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