Hands-on: Lenovo U300s ultrabook joins the tussle for your holiday spending

November 19th, 2011 | by Raymond Lau


Folks looking out for an ultrabook this holiday season has yet another choice on top of the increasingly crowded segment – the Lenovo U300s. Eschewing the wedge-shaped design championed by Apple and ASUS, Lenovo’s take on the ultrabook is a sensible book-shaped machine that has a nice heft and overall feel. We go hands-on!

Hardware and design
Measuring 14.9mm thin and weighing in at a mere 1.32 kg, the U300s has an understated design that at the same time looks classy and sophisticated. A “Clementine Orange” colour option jazzes things up a bit, but isn’t that bright as to look out of place in a boardroom.

Unlike the Zenbook, the design of which is unabashedly inspired by the MacBook Air, Lenovo’s take is more like a traditional laptop. It looks like a bound hardcover book, and one-piece magnesium alloy roll-cage feels sturdy enough to withstand frequently jostling.

Open up the U300s and you’ll find a nicely spaced chiclet keyboard. But Lenovo’s experience at making the excellent ThinkPad keyboards didn’t shine through: the keyboard is noticeably shallower than standard laptop keys.

But the keyboard has a redeeming quality: it helps the laptop stay cool! Lenovo engineered and upside-down fan which draws in from the keyboard, ensuring that your hands stay cool while typing.

Underneath all that, you get your choice of Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, up to 256GB of solid state storage, and up to 4GB of RAM. Unfortunately, while a USB 3.0 and HDMI port are present, you won’t find an SD card reader on the U300s. Unlike the Toshiba Protégé Z830, the U300s also lacks an Ethernet port.

“Enhanced Experience”
Instead of an ostensible skin over Windows 7 (like Dell’s Stage), Lenovo has added in under-the-hood enhancements to the U300s, which the company termed “Enhanced Experience 2.0”.

For one, the U300s is said to boot up in just 10 seconds, and can last up to 8 hours on a single charge. If left idle, Lenovo claims that the system can sustain up to 30 days of standby. Plus, Lenovo RapidCharge technology can charge the U300s to 50 per cent capacity in just half an hour.

Price might be a problem
Despite several omissions, the U300s is a fine piece of work. The only problem? Its price. Starting atS$1,899 for the Core i5 variety, Lenovo is cutting it too close to S$2,000. The local price for the i7 version has not been announced but Lenovo executives confirmed that it will definitely go above S$2,000.

Toshiba has a similar premium pricing strategy, while ASUS continues to undercut the rest of the ultrabook pack, with a better spec’ed 13-inch ultrabook starting at just S$1,498.

The U300s will have some convincing to do on the showroom floors, but with some luck, Lenovo’s ultrabook might just break through with its stylish design and unique enhancements.

This story first appeared on Techtalk, our technology content partners at Yahoo! News Singapore


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