If you're looking for a media streamer for the living room, the ultra-compact Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300 might just fit the bill — and it's just $99.
The Ideacentre Stick 300 from Lenovo isn't a powerful machine, but it is good enough for entertainment and web browsing, while affordable enough to justify owning as a a second or third mobile PC option. Because of its pocketable size, travelers can also quickly transform their hotel television into a media hub.
Should you buy the Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300? At $99, there isn't much to complain about. Read on for the review.
There are no configuration options for the Ideacentre Stick 300 — there's just the one model and the one model only. The specifications include:
- Intel Atom Z3735F 1.33GHz Processor
- 2GB DDR3L-RS 1333 MHz RAM
- Intel HD Graphics
- 32GB eMMC storage
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
- Bluetooth 4.0
The Ideacentre Stick 300 easily fits in your pocket, measuring just 3.94 x 1.5 x 0.59 inches. It's also light, weighing just 0.1 pounds. It's made of plastic and only comes in black.
On the right side, there's a full-size USB 2.0 port, microUSB port for power, and the power button. The left side has a microSD slot for expanding on the meager 32GB of built-in storage. Up front are a power indicator light and a vent for the small fan inside. The top of the stick has the HDMI connector, which you can plug directly into a TV or a monitor for 1080p 60fps output. If there isn't enough clearance to insert the HDMI connector, you can use the HDMI extension cable for a better fit. The package includes a mount for attaching the Stick 300 right onto the back of the TV or monitor.
The Ideacentre Stick 300 needs to be powered, so you can either use the AC adapter or plug the microUSB cable into a USB port on your display or monitor. The latter is a lot more convenient because the included cable isn't very long.
Setting up the Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300 is easy. Plug a wired or wireless mouse receiver to the USB port for initial setup, and then connect a keyboard via Bluetooth. There's only one USB port available, so you'll need a USB hub if you want to plug a wired keyboard or other USB peripherals. One thing to keep in mind is that you won't hear any audio if the monitor you connect the IdeaCentre Stick 300 to doesn't have built-in speakers. This is easily solved by pairing it with a Bluetooth speaker. With a TV you likely won't have that problem, seeing as they generally have speakers of their own.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre Stick 300 comes with Windows 10 Home. We purchased it from the Microsoft Store, so it is a Signature Edition PC. This means no pre-installed bloatware. There is a Lenovo folder in the Start menu, but it only includes a link for the user guide. Other Lenovo PCs I've played with usually included a trial of Mcafee Livesafe and other apps I'd sooner uninstaller than actually use.
At its very low price point, I didn't expect the IdeaCentre Stick 300 to be a powerful PC. I can watch YouTube videos and Netflix without lag, but we noticed some slowdowns when switching between apps and opening multiple windows. You can blame the small 2GB RAM for that. Other everyday tasks like checking emails, Twitter, and writing Word documents work fine. If you want to play games, there are plenty available from the Windows Store. Some of my favorite examples are Minion Rush and Hill Climb Racing. They both work fine without stutter, but don't expect to play more demanding games with meager hardware.
If you're looking for benchmarks, GeekBench 3 gives the Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300 a score of 683 for single-core and 1729 for multi-core. You can also check out the CrystalDiskMark scores below.
There is a fan to cool down the Ideacentre Stick 300, and you might be able to hear it in a quiet room. After about 30 minutes of gaming or watching Netflix, the PC stick's temperature can reach 110 degrees. Since you're not physically touching it during usage, most people won't notice.
At just $99, the Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300 can be great device for the living room, especially if you don't currently have a smart TV. You'll get more features than media streamers such as the Roku 2 or Apple TV because you're getting a full PC running Windows 10. You can install Netflix and Hulu from the Windows Store, or use the web browser for your favorite streaming services such as Amazon Prime or HBO Go. You can also use email, Cortana, Twitter, Office, and many other apps on this tiny machine.
People who are frequently on the road and don't want to carry heavy items in their bag will love the Ideacentre Stick 300. It is more portable than carrying a laptop, but of course, you'll still need to hook it up to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard, which may not always be easily accessible.
The downside is the performance issue. It noticeably slows down when you have multiple apps or windows open. Including more RAM would've been ideal, but that would increase the price point that Lenovo wants to target. Overall, at just $99, it's really hard to complain about the Ideacentre Stick 300.
Already own this PC stick? Let us know what you think about it in the comments!