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Lenovo IdeaPad U300s review

Verdict

Understated elegance married with decent performance, but the dim display sends it dropping down the rankings

Review Date: 9 Mar 2012

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £666 (£799 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
3 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

Unlike the rest of the Ultrabook crowd, there’s no way you could possibly accuse the IdeaPad U300s of being a MacBook Air clone.

From the first moments with Lenovo’s Ultrabook, we were seduced. The slight lip around the base and lid make it easy to peel the lid open, which itself is held shut by hidden magnets, and the combination of stark, sharp edges and gentle, curved accents make for a tremendously classy laptop.

The almost completely featureless exterior feels great in the hand, and at 1.32kg, it’s plenty light enough. It doesn’t feel quite as bombproof as either of Asus' Zenbooks, though, with the UX31 and UX21 both impressing.

It takes barely any pressure on the lid to cause show-through on the display, and there’s a little side-to-side give in the base. Look even closer, and there are also a few areas where the finish isn’t quite immaculate, such as the hole for the power socket that doesn’t match up with the indent beneath.

Lenovo IdeaPad U300s

Nit-picking aside, though, there’s much to like. The keyboard is well up to Lenovo’s usual high standards. We’re not keen on the half-height Enter key, or the narrow right-hand Shift key, but the overall feel more than makes amends. There’s just the right amount of travel, each dab of a key giving a crisp dig of feedback followed by a soft bounce at the end of the stroke. It’s superb.

The touchpad is pretty good, too, although we were grateful for the ability to disable it: we often found our thumbs brushing past the pad while typing, sending the cursor zipping into another paragraph. That aside, it’s innocuous enough. The glass touchpad depresses with a firm, solid click, and the multitouch scrolling and zooming is prompt and intuitive.

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User comments

With only a single usb2 port it might be tricky to hook up an external DVD drive.

By JamesD29 on 9 Mar 2012

My advice: wait for the

t430u

By gavmeister on 9 Mar 2012

Ultrabook A list

Hey guys,

Is there going to be a category for A-list ultrabooks soon? I generally find your recommendations quite reliable and like to use those as a good starting point, cheers.

By johnjwaters on 9 Mar 2012

Don't worry, James. Common misunderstanding as the new tech comes in. USB 3 ports are backwards compatible with USB 2 devices. So even if you don't have a USB3 external drive, you still effectively have 2 USB ports available. Hope that assuages any worries on that front - I'm a long-term fan of Lenovo's machines, and am considering the Ideapad for my next ultraportable. Bit worries about the screen brightness, so will haveto check that out first.

By orbis39 on 9 Mar 2012

Don't worry, James. Common misunderstanding as the new tech comes in. USB 3 ports are backwards compatible with USB 2 devices. So even if you don't have a USB3 external drive, you still effectively have 2 USB ports available. Hope that assuages any worries on that front - I'm a long-term fan of Lenovo's machines, and am considering the Ideapad for my next ultraportable. Bit worries about the screen brightness, so will haveto check that out first.

By orbis39 on 9 Mar 2012

Arg! Just checked this and the t430u (the latter because I just realised that unlike this model, it's got hardware gig ethernet, which I need for all the obvious admin reasons) and on both they've decided to skip the Thinklight again. It's a ridiculously small feature to treat as a deal-breaker, I know, but that thing has proved so useful over the years in unexpected admin visits to server cupboards, dark stack corners and windowless IT basements / dungeons... So maybe this isn't the one for me for two reasons. Oh well, it looks nice (as does the t430u). I'm sure they'll be just perfect for people who spend less time running in and out of the IT Underdark...

By orbis39 on 9 Mar 2012

And yay for double-posting, obviously.

By orbis39 on 9 Mar 2012

"With a low price [...] can Lenovo's Ultrabook shine?

Since when has £800 been "a low price"? A certain loss of reality seems to have occurred.

By JohnGray7581 on 9 Mar 2012

price

where can you get it for £799? I don't see it anywhere.

By gavmeister on 9 Mar 2012

@orbis39

Looking at the photos the usb3 and the usb2 ports are on different sides of the machine. Still I am sure that there will be external usb3 dvd drives before long. Some external dvd drives do work with one usb2 port and if course there are externally powered one as well. I have no doubt that at some point DVDs will go the way of floppy disks but we haven't reached that point yet.

By JamesD29 on 9 Mar 2012

one hell of a price

you can get one for £666 in the toasty afterworld where VAT doesn't apply. but Pixmania has it for £793+£6.70 shipping which is near enough the quoted review price. There is also a £12 quid discount available off that on the Pixmania site by entering a promo code given on the ultrabook's page.

By mr_chips on 9 Mar 2012

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