The Lenovo IdeaPad U300s is only the second Utrabook to reach us, after much anticipation. The first being the Acer Aspire S3, which set some pretty high standards for a machine not sporting an SSD. From our previous positive experience of the business-class Lenovo ThinkPad X1, we were wondering if the U300s would be able to follow-up on the X1’s excellence. And we didn’t have to wonder long. The Lenovo IdeaPad U300s that was sent for our evaluation sported a Core i7-2677M (1.8GHz), which is one of the more expensive mobile CPU options and we'll get to its performance abilities soon enough. Handling the U300s was no effort at all, thanks to the uniform weight distribution of the unit.
This “Clementine Orange” coloured little beauty is stunning (it also comes in silver). Covered in a sandblasted (matte), anodised orange aluminium shell, the U300s strikes us as a machine that is both exciting and funky, as well as deadly serious in what it does. And what it does, is makes sure you have the most portable machine in your bag. It weighs only 1.32kg and measures 14.9mm thick throughout. Design-wise, it’s made to look like a folded book, but it’s no thicker than a magazine. Its sides are covered in black, a stark contrast to the exterior, making the “book” illusion much more profound. This unique look is quite different from the deluge of portable PCs we’ve seen lately, and could point to Lenovo’s (currently the world’s second largest PC manufacturer) increasing attention to design.
On the side, you will find the bare minimum of ports. On the left, we have our favourite Lenovo button, the indispensable OneKey Recovery button. This button is something you’d be looking for once in a while when your machine acts up, decides it wants to be petulant and not work properly. While it won’t solve any hardware problems, it will help in keeping errant operating systems in check, by resetting it back to its original state - like a discipline rod for naughty software.
Look a little bit further, after the heat vent, you will find a USB 2.0 port. On the other side of the machine, you will find the headphone jack, another USB 3.0 port, as well as the power port. Unfortunately however, the U300s doesn’t feature an SD card slot, which we found very puzzling because it really takes the convenience factor down a notch.
On the bottom of the machine, you will find nothing. That’s right, nothing. No unsightly vents, holes or anything that distracts from the overall simplicity of the machine. The only items you will find there are rubber stoppers and logos that have been printed on. This is looking to be a new norm, at least for Ultrabooks we have seen so far.
Having a clean bottom also means that the notebook's battery is built into the machine. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, since the Ultrabook blueprint is to have machines that are slim and one of the best ways to accomplish this is to integrate the battery within the chassis (like the MacBook Air that popularized this initially). Whether or not this will work in favor of the Lenovo Ideapad U300s, we will reveal that later in the review.