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Lenovo IdeaPad U300S review

Lenovo's Ultrabook has finally arrived, but is the IdeaPad U300S the best Ultrabook yet or just another MacBook Air wannabe? Find out in our review.

We weren't fond of the buggy touchpad.

We weren't fond of the touchpad.

Since this is an IdeaPad aimed at consumers, most of the business features you'd expect to see on a ThinkPad are absent such as a TPM chip and a fingerprint reader. The preinstalled 64-bit version of Windows 7 is Home Premium rather than Professional so you won't have access to such useful business features like BitLocker encryption without upgrading. The warranty is also rather short at just one year RTB.

Another design choice due to the U300S' consumer focus is the glossy display. This means the screen will reflect a lot of light in offices with overhead lighting, resulting in lots of distracting glare. It is brighter than other Lenovo laptop screens, although it's still nowhere near as bright as other laptops with glossy screens we've seen. If you turn down the brightness to conserve battery life, you will end up squinting at the gloomy screen. Colour accuracy and viewing angles aren't great either, so you may want to keep an external monitor on your desk when showing off files to colleagues in the office. It's also disappointing the screen's resolution is limited to just 1,366x768 pixels. Although standard for a 13in screen, other ultraportable manufacturers have squeezed in even higher resolution displays.

Although the U300S isn't quite as fast as some other ultraportable laptops, it's by no means slow. The 1.6GHz Core i5 2467M processor should be fast enough for most tasks it scored a respectable 37 overall in our applications benchmarks. The 4GB of RAM can't be upgraded though. As expected for an Ultrabook, there's a SSD. It's 128GB in size, so if you have lots of files then you'll need to carry only the most essential ones or invest in external or cloud storage. The rugged SSD is less prone to mechanical damage and malfunction than a regular hard disk though.

So what's our verdict?

Verdict

Despite our concerns about the touchpad, screen brightness and lack of business-oriented features, the IdeaPad U300S is our favourite Ultrabook yet thanks to its long battery life, good looks and reasonably good keyboard. Overall though, the 13in MacBook Air remains our preferred ultraportable thanks to its superior battery life, great keyboard and more thoughtful design. If you prefer Windows, the U300S is the best Ultrabook alternative to the MacBook Air available so far, but we suspect the real challengers to Apple's dominance will be the second generation of Ultrabooks based on the upcoming Intel Ivy Bridge range of processors. Hopefully by the time these processors are released, Ultrabook manufacturers will have had time to refine their designs and supply chains.

SPECIFICATIONS Processor: Intel Core i5 2467M, 1.6GHz Memory: 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 RAM Graphics: integrated Intel HD Graphics Hard disk: 128GB solid state disk Display: 13.3in 1,366 x 768, LED-backlit screen Features: 1.3 megapixel camera, microphone, stereo speakers Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 Ports: 1 x USB2, 1x USB3, 1 x HDMI, 1 x 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo audio socket Dimensions: 216x334x15mm (WxDxH) Weight: 1.32kg Warranty: 1 year RTB OS: Windows 7 Home Premium Part code: M6845UK BENCHMARK RESULTS Image editing 51 Video encoding 36 Multiple apps 33 Overall 37 Light usage battery life – 8h39m POWER CONSUMPTION Sleep 1W Idle 18W Active 41W

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