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Product Listing
Lenovo IdeaPad U300s - Sharp, Skinny and Long Lasting
By Leo Boon Yeow - 17 Oct 2011
Launch SRP: S$1899

Clean Black

 Clean Black

Right after opening the machine, you'll see an all black interior that is made of aluminum alloy, and painted black. This only applies to units that come in Clementine Orange for its exterior. For machines that come in metallic grey, you can expect the same grey inside that drabs the outer surface. At first glance, it reminds us very much of the excellent ThinkPad X1 which we reviewed a few months back. That said, if you are thinking that this design reminds you of the older black MacBooks, you won’t be alone either.

 Can you see the family resemblance? We think it looks like its ThinkPad cousins, without the red trimmings.

The difference from the ThinkPads here is that there is no red pointing stick, and no trackpad buttons. What you will see is just a keyboard, a power switch on the top left corner, and a very big clickpad (because this trackpad clicks). As for the hinges that hold the monitor to the machine, it is similar to the one we’ve seen on the MacBook Air as well as the Acer Aspire S.

 The vents are located at the same place as the MacBook Air’s, but we can’t think of a better location where these vents should be.

The heat vents are also situated near the hinge, like on the MacBook Air, which we think is a fantastic idea because it keeps hot air away from you. The hinge itself is also quite tight, with no looseness often associated with sub-par products. Having said that, we’d also like to applaud an engineering touch which makes opening the lid of the machine a one-handed affair. Just the way we like it.

 Just look at those keys. They are not square like those found on other chiclet keyboards, but rather a nice “shield” shape, just like those found on the ThinkPad X1.

The keyboard on the Lenovo IdeaPad is also extremely similar to the one found on the X1, which is a good thing to say the least. The individual keys on the chiclet keyboard are spaced fairly far apart from each other, and individual buttons are shaped similarly, but contrary to what is found on the ThinkPad X1, the keys are not slightly concave to accommodate your fingers. The keyboard is also slight recessed to allow for the screen to close completely, which would then reduce the overall height of the machine (it’s something we’ve been seeing for quite awhile now).

 The trackpad is likely the second most used part of a machine, and skimping on its usability is definitely not a good idea. Lenovo seems to agree with us and gave us a large comfortable trackpad to work with.

The best part about the machine though has to be the giant glass trackpad, which is slightly textured to allow for a very smooth tracking experience. There is a line down the middle of the clickpad that separates the left and right clicks. The functionality of the trackpad is quite similar to Apple's forward-looking take where it forgoes dedicated trackpad buttons. Even the trackpad's usage experience was a good one - it wasn't too mushy and provided just enough click for the unmistakable tactile feedback, and not being overly resistant.

 The U300s isn't a multimedia notebook in a conventional sense, as in it doesn’t have discrete graphics, but it makes up for it with some pretty powerful speakers.

The dual 1W speakers found on the machine are also pretty powerful. At full volume, we found the loud audio still crisp and clear. For such a small notebook, we really appreciate that Lenovo paid attention to multimedia features like these on an ultra-portable machine. On the other hand, the screen on the machine is nothing to write home about. It’s just a standard (1366 x 768) resolution type of screen that we see in plenty of mainstream notebooks.

 Be careful when handling the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s. Its edges are really sharp, and it doesn’t help that the aluminum alloy it’s covered with is really hard. Just don’t hit anyone with it, okay? Because you’re likely to cause some serious injury if you do. We're not kidding.

There is however a strange design characteristic which we’re inclined to declare a flaw. The edges along the palmrest are so sharp that resting your wrists on the edge is definitely something we won’t recommend without some third-party help. Sure the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s is so thin that your wrists may not reach the edge, but if they do, it will hurt. Bad. Whether or not this is oversight on Lenovo’s part, or a strict dedication to design, we will never know. What we do know is that it is definitely something that needs to be addressed, especially if you are going to be working on this machine for a few hours.

The plastic hinges are tight here, but we’re left wondering why Lenovo didn’t choose to use metal here instead.

  • Design 9
  • Features 8.5
  • Performance 8.5
  • Value 8.5
  • Mobility 9.5
The Good
Slim, light and robust form factor
Interesting design
Superb battery life
The Bad
Sharp edges
Raw benchmark scores lower than competitors
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