If you are in the market for a 13-inch laptop, you might want to have a look at the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S which has a base price of $1,195 for the entry-level version while the configuration about which we are going to talk costs approximately $1,600. What you get for the money? Keep on reading to find out what hides within that thin and light chassis.
At the heart of the U300S is a second generation Intel processor in the form of a Core i7-2677M (low-voltage CPU) that runs at 1.80 GHz. It is configured with 4 GB of DDR3 memory clocked at 1,333 MHz while for storage it has a 256GB SSD which might not be enough for some people, but at least it is way faster than a regular hard drive. The chipset in this ultrabook is an Intel UM67 while in the graphics area it has an integrated Intel HD 3000 with shared system memory so don’t get this model if you plan on running demanding video games as the integrated GPU is suitable mostly for light gaming and viewing HD content.
The Lenovo IdeaPad U300S measures 12.8 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches and tips the scales at 2.9 pounds while the AC adapter weighs an additional 0.6 pounds. We are dealing with a 13-inch laptop that has a sharp design and it is manufactured from a single sandblasted sheet of aluminum and it does not feature any bottom vents. Instead, the heat that is generated by the laptop comes out through the hinge vents and also with the help of the “breathable keyboard” as Lenovo likes to call it.
The orange version of the model is offset by the matte black interior, while the gray version is entirely monochromatic, with the exception of the key faces which are black. The keyboard of the IdeaPad U300S is sitting in a slightly indented keyboard tray which makes it feel like a premium laptop. This is a variation of an island-style keyboard which features keys that bow out a little bit at the bottom, rather than being entirely square. The result is excellent as it is noticeably easier to catch the key’s bottom edge.
As far as the touchpad is concerned, the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S benefits from a glass touchpad that has a generous size, but we don’t like that the left and right mouse buttons have been integrated in the pad itself, much like the pad you can find on the MacBook Pro from Apple.
It has a 13.3-inch display with a maximum resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels (720p) which is a regular resolution for a 13-inch screen. However, since you are paying so much money for this model, we would have expected a higher resolution. We do like that the screen itself is of great quality, offering excellent viewing angles.
Let’s talk about the connectivity features and ports that you get with this IdeaPad model from Lenovo, mentioning that it has an HDMI port, a headphone jack, one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, while for networking it packs Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi. Compared to Apple’s MacBook Air, this model from Lenovo is considerably better as far as the selection of ports and connections are concerned since it comes with HDMI and USB 3.0 ports that you won’t find on the MacBook Air.
The bad news is that you do have to miss out on several features, such as an SD card slot, VGA output and a separate mic input. We do have to mention that these are still achievable with the help of USB external devices, but if you need these on a daily basis you might want to consider another laptop that comes with these features built-in.
We appreciate that the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S comes with the Intel Wireless Display technology so you will be able to stream HD content to an HDTV without the need of a HDMI cable. However, you will need a compatible receiver box which is sold separately and it costs about $100.
This configuration of the U300S is quicker than the Samsung Series 9 and the Acer Aspire S3, but at the same time it is a little bit slower than the Core i5-powered Apple MacBook Air and also the Toshiba R835. There isn’t a significant advantage if you opt for the Core i7 processor since we are dealing with a low-voltage version of the CPU which doesn’t make it faster enough compared to the Core i5 to worth the additional money. However, you might want to opt for this configuration since it comes with a 256GB SSD whereas the $1,195 model has only a 128GB SSD (and the Core i5-2457M).
One of the most important factors that thin and light laptop buyers are looking for take into consideration is the battery department. The one in this IdeaPad manages to last longer that the Acer Aspire S3, but it’s still miles away from what the Apple MacBook Air has to offer. In a demanding video playback test, the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S will last for a little over five hours, which is about an hour more than the Aspire S3 from Acer, but an hour and a half less than the MacBook Air. In normal conditions, the U300S will probably last for approximately six hours which is a great result that will satisfy most people.
Much like other models in the ultrabook segment, Lenovo says that the IdeaPad U300S is capable of holding a charge for up to a month, which is just about the same as the MacBook. We should mention that the laptop it comes bundled with several software applications, such as the Lenovo OneKey Recovery, Computrace LoJack for Laptops and other as well. The first one is working with a small button located on the left edge and you can hit it when the system not boots into Windows so that it will try to restore from a previously made backup so remember to make one if you plan on purchasing this model so that in case the OS will stop working, you’ll have a backup available.