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Lenovo U300S..Gorgeous Ultrabook!
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Lenovo U300S..Gorgeous Ultrabook!

Long before Intel started to promote the new ultrabook category, Lenovo made an extremely thin laptop which fulfilled most of Intel’s Ultrabook spec: the IdeaPad U260. The aluminum-wrapped laptop, which came out last December, was just 0.7 inches thick and was one of the best Windows ultraportables  in terms of performance and overall build. However,  its closest competitor the MacBook  blew it away on battery life. An incredibly thin laptop cannot run for less three hours on a charge and expect to be taken as a serious rival. A year later we welcome Lenovo’s latest.. the 13.3-inch, IdeaPad U300s with Core i5 / i7 processors, 128/256GB solid-state drives for fast boot and resume times, and long battery life.

The 2.9-pound Lenovo U300s is an elegant entry into the new ultrabook category—a super-slim profile, a fast solid-state drive instead of a hard drive, near-instantaneous sleep and resume functions—with Lenovo’s typical world-class engineering. And praise be it is not a MacBook Air clone.  While most Ultrabooks copy the MacBook Air’s and taper to a tenth of an inch at the front edge, Lenovo built the U300s like an actual book, closer to 0.6 inch thick all the way from front to back. It’s a really great looking alternative to the usual wedge shape. A bonus:  It feels rock-solid when picked up by a front corner and there is almost no flex when you press the lid. The 8.5 by 12.8 by 0.6-inch case is crafted from a single sheet of aluminum, sandblasted for what Lenovo calls a warmer, more tactile finish.

The keyboard is one area where I expect Lenovo to excel and the U300s doesn’t disappoint. Despite the chiclet look of other Ultrabook keyboards this keyboard is solid and has a good travel and feel..it is pretty comfortable to type on. Sure the keys are not curved like a ThinkPad but a good compromise to keep the U300s so thin. It’s not all good news thought..I really miss the signature Lenovo TouchStick..and the keyboard is not backlit…booo. The trackpad is better than most, it supports basic pointing and clicking and multitouch gestures are responsive, though not as smooth the MacBook Air

Performance is great as the U300s teams 4GB of RAM with a Core i7-2677M—a 1.8GHz dual-core, four-threaded member of Intel’s “Sandy Bridge” processor family..it is fast as stink partly because of the 256Gb SSD instead of a traditional hard drive. Teamed with Intel’s Rapid Storage technology, the solid-state drive enables cold-boot and awake-from-sleep times of roughly 22 and 3 seconds respectively..almost instant-on. Battery life is OK but not spectacular..I was able to get a little over 5 hours of writing done on a charge.

The Lenovo IdeaPad U300S does fall down a bit on connectivity, it features just two USB ports, one is USB 3.0, and an HDMI port but no Ethernet or VGA. As well it is one of the few ultrabooks not to feature a media card slot. I would also have liked to see a better screen than  1366 x 768 pixels although this one does get the job done.

I liked the IdeaPad U300s a lot but I had hoped to be blown away by this well engineered beautiful and fast Ultrabook. Sadly the missing media card slot and especially the lack of a backlit keyboard prevent me from calling it a home run. The model I tested is also not cheap at $1549. I would suggest you look at the model that comes with an i5 processor and a 128Gb SSD nicely priced at $1099 ..still an excellent performer at a great price..$200 less than a MacBook Air. .

 

 

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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