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Lenovo IdeaPad U300s review

Ardjuna Seghers



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Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s


Our Score:



  • Attractive, different design
  • Affordable
  • Ergonomic keyboard
  • Good battery life
  • Full-size HDMI


  • No SD card reader
  • No keyboard backlighting
  • Screen has poor viewing angles
  • Sharp edges

Key Features

  • 13.3in 1366 x 758 glossy screen
  • Aluminium unibody chassis
  • Under 16mm thin, weighs 1.32kg
  • Core i5-i7, 4GB RAM, 128-256GB SSD
  • USB 3.0, HDMI, HD webcam
  • Manufacturer: Lenovo
  • Review Price: free/subscription

Ultrabooks are having an impact almost as big as the netbook did in its day. Basically powerful and stylish ultraportable laptops with 11-13in screens that are under 22mm thin and weigh less than 1.5kg, Intel’s Ultrabook standard could be considered the ideal all portable laptops should aspire to. They’re not just thin and light but also relatively long-lasting and powerful (you’ll never find an Ultrabook that stutters with HD video or can’t run Flash, for example), with a minimum of a ‘Sandy Bridge’ Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM and, crucially, SSD or hybrid SSD storage. This also ensures Ultrabooks are fast-booting and can resume from standby almost instantly.

But which one is the best? We’ve already looked at the Asus Zenbook UX31, Acer Aspire S3 and Toshiba Satellite Z830, and so far they’ve all had various strengths and weaknesses. Can Lenovo’s IdeaPad U300s be the Ultrabook to rule them all?

Specifications are generally what you would expect, though you do get a little more choice than most offer. You can go for either a dual-core Core i5 or i7 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128 or 256GB SSD. Only the S3 offers more configurations.

The U300s also gets off to a good start with its unique design. Rather than a front that tapers to a wedge-shaped point as most Ultrabooks and the MacBook Air do, Lenovo’s beasty maintains the folio look from its numerical predecessor, the IdeaPad U260. There’s even a protruding bottom lip to enforce this impression. It doesn’t work quite as well without the U260’s soft-touch leatherette finish, but it’s still attractive and different, and the unibody aluminium shell shouts premium.

It’s also incredibly thin. We were impressed at the 16mm-thick Z830 (at its thickest point), but Lenovo’s laptop takes things a step further with a maximum thickness of 15mm. Whatever next, 14mm thin 13in Ultrabooks? Toshiba’s 1.1kg contender does still hold the weight crown though, as the U300s weighs just over 1.32kg.

Build quality is good. Though there’s some flex in the chassis and it doesn’t feel as solid as the Asus Zenbook, it’s still a lot more reassuring than the magnesium alloy Acer S3. Our only real complaint is that it seems to have sharper edges and in more prominent positions than even the Macbook Air.

Connectivity is where the U300s encounters its first hiccup. On the left we have a single USB 2.0 port, while the right houses a nicely full-size HDMI connector and speedy USB 3.0 port along with a 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack. You might already have noticed the obvious omission here: an SD card reader. It’s something that, on the 13in models at least, every other Ultrabook and most ultraportables manage to incorporate, and it’s a potentially serious omission. You can always get a USB stick reader, but this shouldn’t be necessary with a premium laptop.

While we do appreciate Lenovo’s use of full-size HDMI, if connectivity is important to you the Satellite Z830 is still your best bet, followed by the Zenbook with its included adapters.

Brian ONeill

September 5, 2011, 8:16 pm

I wonder is it basically the case that no one can complete with apple when it comes to tablets and ultra portables?

A tablet needs to be under £300 or users will just buy the ipad.

I was one of the lucky few that grabbed a hp touchpad for £89. I must admit had I spent more than £200 on it I would have felt robbed, it is a pale imitation of an ipad.

Also while I am a pc power user who has windows 7 on all my computers if I was buying a new laptop I would be extremely tempted by the macbook air. A pc alternative would need to be several hundred pounds cheaper to compete.

Apple do divide opinion but there stuff is extremely well made.


February 13, 2012, 9:12 pm

I waited ages for a decent Ultrabook and non arrived. They all have their problems. I ended up having to buy a MacBook Air and plan to put windows 8 on it.


February 14, 2012, 9:44 am

@Brian O'Neill: You might want to have a look at this notebooks stablemate, the X220 Thinkpad. It can more than compete with Apple's offerings.


February 14, 2012, 7:31 pm

was looking at this and the series 5 samsung ultrabook - the display on the sammy won it for me - non glossy and much better view angles and cheaper to boot. I can't understand why Lenovo put such a rubbish screen in a premium chassis.


February 14, 2012, 8:24 pm

@Brian O'Niell:
There's definitely some strong competition on both fronts, you just have to look for it :)

On the Tablet front, an example of a tablet that exceeds the iPad 2 in hardware at least is the Asus Transformer Prime [http://www.trustedreviews.c...].
It's thinner, lighter, more powerful, has more storage, better connectivity, better cameras, offers a keyboard attachment, etc. Another example of a tablet that offers more functionality and flexibility is the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet [http://www.trustedreviews.c...]

On the laptop front, meanwhile, there's the likes of the [http://www.trustedreviews.c...] and, if you don't mind a bit of bulk, the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 (as @ffrankmccaffery metions) - to name but two.

Apple products are beautifully made and far more up to date than they used to be, but you still pay a premium and there are great alternatives.

True none of them quite manage it, though there are good ultraportables (which don't carry the Ultrabook moniker) like the aforementioned Series 9. Hopefully the next generation of Ultrabooks will give us the kind of quality laptops we're all craving.

It's actually one of the better Ultrabook screens if you get past the viewing angles, but I agree: it is baffling how all the Ultrabooks seem to share poor or average screens in such otherwise premium machines.

Roll on the Lenovo Yoga convertible Ultrabook, with a high-resolution IPS screen!


February 15, 2012, 4:55 am

Another great laptop from Lenovo ruined by the lack of a decent screen. Maybe the Yoga will get it right, or the successor of the X1...

While I wouldn't get an Apple, it seems to be the only company that manages to combine a decent screen, keyboard and touchpad.


February 15, 2012, 5:46 am

Another issue is the glossy finish on many of the screens, particularly combined with LED backlighting. My girlfriends MacBook Pro is unbearable after an hour or so on it.

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