Lenovo announces U300s Ultrabook, U300 and U400 IdeaPads, we go hands-on (video)

Lenovo announces U300s Ultrabook, U300 and U400 IdeaPads, we go hands-on (video)

The unchallenged reign of the MacBook Air on the thin-and-light domain is nearing an end -- the Ultrabooks are coming, and the Lenovo U300s looks to be one of the strongest competitors we've yet seen. It's a new entry to the IdeaPad lineup, the thinnest and lightest of a redesigned and reborn U Series that will also include the slightly stockier 13.3-inch U300 and the even bigger but even more serious 14-inch U400. All three are shipping in October, and we recently got a chance to try out the tiny trio. Read on for full details and our full impressions.

Intel's long-vaunted Ultrabooks are finally coming to market, and while they're going to be shipping with a range of price points and designs, they're all going to be very thin. The U300s is naturally the thinnest, 14.9mm thick at the front and the rear thanks to a book-inspired design that is slightly concave around the edges. That's actually 2mm thinner than the Air, but of course the Air has that delicious taper making it seem thinner overall (as you can see in the comparison photos in the gallery, and below). But, really, they're both very, very thin indeed.

The U300s takes many design inspirations from the Air, including a glass trackpad and a machined aluminum body, but it's been given a sandblasting and an anodization that Lenovo pledges will make it more scratch resistant than the competition. We didn't get a chance to put that to the test, but the build and construction did indeed feel good on the unit we got our hands on. Again like the Air the bottom of the U300s lacks vents, with air being sucked in through the keyboard. That keyboard is rather unfortunately not backlit, but it is still spill-proof -- another claim we'll have to take Lenovo's word for.

The U300s weighs in at 1.34kg (2.95 pounds), while the still 13.3-inch but 18.3mm thick U300 clicks in at a slightly heavier 1.58kg (3.48 pounds), and the 14-inch U400 is 22.6mm thick and 1.98kg (4.36 pounds). That last one is the only one with dedicated graphics, AMD Radeon HD5470M HD6470M to be specific. All three models have 1,366 x 768 displays (the same as the 11-inch Air, but less than the 1,440 x 900 13-incher) and all also support WiDi tech, for wirelessly beaming video to external displays. Finally, they all sport HDMI output -- not to mention USB 3.0.

When it comes to storage all models can be configured with up to 256GB SSDs that, on the U300s at least, enables 10 second bootups and up to eight hours of battery life. The U300 and U400 also have an array of platter-based storage options up to 1TB and have six and seven hours of battery life, respectively. The U300s maxes out at 4GB of DDR3 memory and can be configured with Intel Core i5 2467M or Core i7 2667M processors, while the other two can double the memory and offer Core i5 2430M or Core i7 2620M silicon. Only the U400 has an optical drive, a slot-loading DVD-RW unit.

All are said to be shipping in October, most in gray but the U300s will have a delectable Clementine Orange color, a limited edition spec for early adopters. The U300s will start at $1,195 while the U300 can be had for $799 and the U400 $849. We'll be back with full reviews then, but if you'd like the full details check out the PR below.

Update: There appears to be a typo in the press release. We're looking at 6470M graphics on the U400, not 5470M.

Show full PR text

Lenovo Gets Glam with Three New Fashion-Forward Ultraportable Laptops

Slim Design and Ultra-Responsive Performance Combine for the Must-Have Style Laptops of the Season

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – September 1, 2011: Lenovo (HKSE: 992) (ADR: LNVGY) sashays into the fashion world with three new luxury laptops, the IdeaPad U300s Ultrabook™, and the U300 and U400 laptops. Bridging haute couture with superior technology, these laptops are designed for fashion-minded consumers who want a product that is stylish, yet also powerful and productive; the ultimate fusion for individuals who take technology and fashion seriously.

"The new IdeaPad U Series laptops from Lenovo provide style mavens everything they need in a slender, mobile and super chic package," said Yao Yingjia, vice president, Innovation Design Center, Lenovo. "The U300s, U300 and U400 laptops are the perfect luxury accessory this season, liberating consumers on the go to combine productivity and entertainment in one stylish device."

"People will be wowed with the new U Series systems from Lenovo that combine incredible performance in beautiful and stylish designs," said Mooly Eden, vice president and general manager of Intel's PC Client Group. "Powered by our 2nd Gen Core processors, this system will deliver great capabilities with a wonderful user experience and long battery life that people increasingly want. We're particularly excited by Lenovo's innovation and as one of the leading time to market partners in the new ultrabook category with the U300s device that combines a no-compromise, must-have mobile experience with performance, security, responsiveness and style."

IdeaPad U300s Ultrabook

The spectacularly slim U300s Ultrabook™, made possible with Intel, is a unique statement for consumers that equally value style and responsiveness. Featuring up to 2nd generation Intel ® Core™ i7 processor with Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, and boot up in as little as 10 seconds with Enhanced Experience 2.0 RapidDrive SSD technology1 , the U300s is ready to roll no matter what the task. The U300s has a 13.3" ultra-slim 16:9 widescreen HD display, 4GB DDR3 memory and up to 256GB of SSD storage. At just 0.6 inches (14.9mm) thick2 , the U300s is built from a single-piece aluminum shell to create a sleek and lightweight product weighing in at less than three pounds. Available in Graphite Grey or limited-edition Clementine Orange – the trendy colors have been applied through an electrolytic process, and sandblasted to create a perfect, scratch-resistant coating. Other smart technologies include the one-of-a-kind Breathable Keyboard, an Intel ® Advanced Cooling Technology that allows air to flow in through the keyboard and out of the sides and rear hinge. This design removes the need for vents on the underside of the notebook – making it ideal for long periods of use on your lap or even on a pillow! , Despite its ultra-slim design, with the Lenovo Long Life Battery, the U300s provides up to eight hours of productive use or an incredible 30 days on standby. And with Lenovo RapidCharge its battery can be charged to 50% capacity in just 30 minutes. Also included is Bluetooth®, high-speed 802.11n Wi-Fi, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 connectors, as well as an integrated 1.3M (720p HD) webcam.

IdeaPad U300 and U400 Ultraportable Laptops

The IdeaPad U300 and U400 are the epitome of stylish, ultra-slim laptops, brimming with intelligent technologies that let consumers do more, with less. The U300 and U400 laptops come with 2nd generation Intel ® Core™ processors and feature boot up times of under 17 seconds thanks to optional RapidDrive SSD technology. The U300 features a 13.3" HD display while the U400 has a 14" HD display and AMD Radeon™ HD5470M 1GB graphics. Both models can be specified with up to 8GB DDR3 memory, up to 1TB HDD storage and up to 256GB SSD storage. The U400 also has an integrated slot- loading DVD-RW drive.

The Long Life Battery on the U300 lasts for up to six hours of productivity and up to seven hours on the U400. Both models also feature the same Breathable Keyboard technology as the U300s.

Entertainment Abounds

The IdeaPad U300s, U300 and U400 all feature HD graphics support, a HDMI output and integrated stereo speakers with SRS® Premium Surround Sound™ for an immersive sound experience when watching "Devil Wears Prada" on DVD, streaming Mary Ma's latest runway show online or listening to Beyonce! Plus, you can bring computer content to life-sized magnitude wirelessly on a big screen from the U300s Ultrabook™ or the U300/U400 ultraportables with Intel ® Wireless Display (WiDi) Technology3 .

Blog the Night Away with Lenovo's Fashion Night Out at Saks: During Fashion's Night Out (FNO) in NYC on Thursday, September 8, stop by the Lenovo Connections Lounge on the 4th floor of Saks Fifth Avenue to check-in and update fans and followers about the most fashionable night of the year, right from the most fashionable laptops! Lenovo will have the latest IdeaPad U Series laptops available during the event for anyone to Tweet their latest celebrity sighting or update Facebook friends on a stellar FNO designer purchase. Additionally, Lenovo will be giving away FIVE IdeaPad U300s laptops at the event! The Lenovo Connections Lounge will be up and running throughout all of fashion week, and there will be one additional PC giveaway each night from September 9-15.

Pricing and Availability

All three laptops are available in a cool Graphite Gray color, and the U300s also comes in limited-edition Clementine Orange. Starting prices for these laptop models start at $1195 for the U300s and $799 and $849 for the U300 and U400, respectively. They will be sold through select retailers and on beginning October 2011.