Skip to main content

Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300 review: A Windows 10 PC smaller than your phone

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.

Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300

PC Stick (Image credit: Windows Central)

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.

Hardware

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.

Software

The Lenovo IdeaCentre Stick 300 comes with Windows 10 Home. We purchased it from the Microsoft Store, so it is a Signature Edition PC (opens in new tab). 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.

http://www.windowscentral.com/lenovo-ideacentre-stick-300-review

Verdict

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!

Where to buy Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300

Mark Guim is Video Editor at Windows Central. He switched to Windows because the MacBook Pro isn't Pro enough. You can follow him on Twitter at @markguim.

92 Comments
  • Decent review. Thanks.
  • I do hope that running temp of 110 is in Fahrenheit scale o.0
  • Haha this computer runs so hot that it literally boils water!
  • That was 111 degrees Fahrenheit, not Celsius. Water boils at 212F.
  • Well, 111 is not even bad.... my phone can reach 170 quite quickly, and I hold that in my hands
  • That F next to the numbers, means Fahrenheit.
  • Mark, does it have a Microphone to be able to speak to Cortana or will we need am external mic? I haven't had a chance to watch the video yet.
  • will need an external mic
  • Would keeping it on at all times be a problem if you're just gonna leave it behind the tv.
  • I've done so for more than a month now with no problems. the fan doesn't come on unless you give it work to do.  
  • Thanks
  • Good review. I liked the 4 items being in the unboxing in 4 corners of the screen post prodcution work. Whats the max resolution on the HDMI, 4k? And is the HDMI high enough for 4k @ 60hz?
  • Even if it did have an external mic, which it doesn't, you'd still need an external one for it to work well with this little dongle plugged in behind the TV.
  • Slap a battery, an LTE chip, and a small touchscreen to it and BOOM, x86 smartphone.
  • It would be fat and with possibly poor battery life but if that's not a problem then yeah your idea sounds great
  • It needs a fan or radiator it runs uncomfortably hot.
  • A very slow smartphone...which is getting hot despite having a fan.
  • Most probably won't be slow if you are gonna run Windows mobile and won't need that fan.
  • If you want horrendous WiFi because of the 1x1 antenna it shares with the Bluetooth go for it.
  • If the rumored Surface phone can run legacy apps, it will replace this compute stick. Or so I think.
  • I doubt that. This I'd great for traveller but I don't think most people use it as such. I for one, like in the review, would only use it as a streaming device in the living with some extras. You're not gonna keep your phone behind the tv
  • If you are using the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, you can sit comfortably with your phone on the couch. ;)
  • Everyone going forward...Microsoft coming soon ™
  • Uh, what? Microsoft is on this stick...
  • Pls I need help since we are talking about Lenovo here, I just got a new windows 10 Lenovo laptop today and only after one you of use or there about, the desktop just keeps on flickering, as tho it was continually refreshing. I so pissed off right now, cause I have a lot of pending assignments, and can't do nothing. I really do need help, I've tried the solutions I saw online, the unchecking windows error report and co, pls I need an alternative,
  • Maybe manufacturing defect
  • Use the forums, thats what they are there for :). anyway check your pm.
  • Thanks I'll try the forum
  • I know this isn't ideal either, but have you thought about temporarily connecting it to a monitor so you can finish your work, while you work out the problems in the forums or elsewhere ?
  • How well does it work streaming games from the Xbox one?
  • Seeing as that doesn't require good hardware just a good connection, I'd say it's perfectly fine for that. Not site if it has a 5ghz connection but if it does then it should be set.
  • I have one of these, and I use it for xbox streaming, from second floor to the first floor. It's working just fine.
  • This would be a perfect media PC for me. Load movies onto a MicroSD card, plug the unit into my surround sound receiver, fire up VLC and I'm all set.
  • Eww, VLC.
  • Yeah, this is the way to go: https://potplayer.daum.net/
  • I was looking at something like this but then thought that soon enough I'll be able to use my 950 XL in Continuum for the few apps I'll need (mostly Netflix once available)
  • Just use the website, works great on my 950 in Continuum.
  • The doc for Continuum is the same price as this! This makes just shows how silly Continuum is! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I was considering this too, but then thought I might be better with a windows tablet instead. This could easily be connected to a TV but could also be used away from the TV and wouldn't need a keyboard or mouse either. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • The best thing about this is the fan. I bought a Meego Pad last autumn and it powers off due to a thermal event if I run anything demanding on it. If the fan keeps this thing going, then they're great little sticks to plug into you TV.
  • It really is a cool device.  I teach, and I plug the stick into the back of my projector hanging from the ceiling in my classroom.  Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, and I have a portable PC that contains everything that I need for the classroom.  I no longer have to email files to myself from home or carry a USB back and forth.  I would use OneDrive, but, for some reason, access to OneDrive on the school servers is blocked.
  • I would use OneDrive, but, for some reason, access to OneDrive on the school servers is blocked. How about the URL of "onedrive.live.com"?
  • Yeah, that too. Not sure why, but the server will not let me access the site. I think it's because the district in which I teach is way deep in Apple products. Ha ha ha
  • 32GB of storage, have fun updating to new builds. If this behaves like the Intel Compute Stick, it will be quite the adventure in frustration.
  • You need to run EVERYTHING from SD card probably :)
  • I was. I'm on my 2nd Intel Compute Stick (ICS) now and this one crapped the bed after running Windows update. The running of Windows update was right after receiving my RMA unit too. Didn't even get to enjoy this one. I hate this thing, such a waste of time and money.  
  • My 1st gen Intel Compute Stick works great. Bought it used...originally had 8.1 one...got updated to 10...had an issue with Netflix video pausing every 5-10 minutes for a few seconds while audio was fine but latest W10 updates seem to have fixed it. I love the stick and want another, either this Lenovo, or another Intel, 1st or 2nd gen.
  • It seems to be the major problem. Guess they need to return to something like this http://gizmodo.com/330568/microsofts-special-windows-xp-for-olpc-runs-di...
  • I have a 16 GB Windows tablet and I can update builds. Just have to slap an external device and retry  
  • There needs to be a comparison with other PC sticks!
  • Can it run full HD videos (Bluray Uncompressed Rips) with out any issues?
  • Possibly, although I haven't tested it myself. You could try *losslessly* compressing it which may or may not make video playback smoother, although the results will depend heavily on the cpu to storage speed tradeoff.
  • The new atoms have more than enough grunt for decoding compressed 1080p MP4/MKV files.  Scrubbing backwards and forwards in a video will not be pretty though, but just plain playback works fine.
  • this looks soooo awesome!!! :D I should buy the dummest TV, with biggest screen, and hook those things together, and be able to do sooo much more than any other TV, and save tons of money!! :)
  • Unfortunately, any tv you buy with a good panel will end up being "smart".
  • I HATE smart TVs, and have always gone for the best 'dumb' set I can find.  Unfortunately, as lbp says, its pretty much impossible to get a non smart TV now, and they're all freaking dreadful, especially the ones (majority) that the idiot manufacturers stick android on.
  • I had the exact same plan, but all large screen TV's are going to be smart anyway. They don't make big screen dumb TV's Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I have one of these little PCs.  It's quite nice for what it is.  I am having an issue, though, that I can't figure out...  There is no "Sleep" option when I click on Start, then Power.  The only options are "Restart" and "Shut Down".  Can anyone point me in the right direction to get this fixed???  Thanks.  :)    
  • There probably isn't enough RAM for sleep mode. Probably not enough storage for hibernate either.
  • My 1 GB RAM tablet goes to sleep just fine. Scienceguy Labs should go turn the option on in control panel.
  • Thanks for the tip. I'll give it a go tomorrow. :)
  • It's only missing a IR receiver for TV remote functionality, it would make a decent HT PC with Kodi :P. Granted 4k streaming is definitely out of the question lol. Never the less these HDMI PC's do make compelling options when it comes to cost savings, as you can pick up a second hand monitor rather cheap. Stick one of these in, attach a usb hub to the back of the monitor and you're all set.
  • HTPC is a thing of the past now with smart TVs and set top boxes. There is no media center and Plex requires subscription on PC but not in consoles. I use my Xbox One as a media center  
  • Have you actually tried to use a so-called 'smart' TVs?  They're now almost all running ancient version of android and are just sluggish and almost unusable.
  • Plex does not require a subscription for PC, Roku, or any smart TV. Only for mobile devices.
  • On Android there is an, official, Intel Remote...works GREAT! You can't turn the computer on with it but can do everything else. I have a keyboard and mouse hooked up be never use them.
  • Mark, The picture in your review show the Microsoft bluetooth Arc mouse and folding keyboard. You also say you can stream YouTube. You are lucky! I used the same setup and the wifi was as slow as dial-up. After days I stumbled uppon this article where Lenovo admits a design flow: https://support.lenovo.com/us/en/documents/ht104195. The shared antena means your bluetooth devices take over the antena and break WiFi. I had to switch to a keyboard/mouse combo with USB dongle. Even with those you may need a few tries, some seem to cause interference when they are so close.
  • Kangaroo pc is much better. Same price. Better processor, finger print reader, usb 2 and 3. 3/4 hours battery built in. As a media center pc it kicks Lenovo's a**
  • The review is wrong when  it claims cost is what keeps more RAM from being used. Atom chips only support a max of 2Gb.  So so add more would mean a more expensive, more power hungry and hotter chip, increasing the volume, case size and price by quite a lot.
  • Just yesterday I ordered InFocus Kangaroo..... Should I have waited for this? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I bought the kangaroo, 1st time I used it I tried to switch off my gaming pc instead . Its fast and the battery option is cool
  • Mine idles at around 1.5-2.0 watts as measured at AC plug. So no problems just keeping it on at all times.
  • Great review. Love the idea, pun intended. But I'll stick to an 2-in-1 ultrabook. Comes with built-in screen, speakers, keyboard (backlit), monitor. More powerful, more storage, more everything. I can always hook it up to a TV with HDMI for larger size experience + dual screen. Or better yet, Miracast it and get dual screen.  
  • This device shows that a Pocket PC hybrid smart phone device is possiable however such a device would need at least a 6 or 7 inch touch screen and a strong battery and a person would need to hook it up to a larger screen and mouse and keyboard to more easily run desktop PC programs in the MS smart phone's  "Continuum" mode.
  • 2 reasons I'll keep using my firetv over one of these. Amazon video app and a dedicated remote plus remote app on my phone. Watch amazon videos via web browser, no thanks!
  • This works great with my Intel Compute Stick http://www.androidcentral.com/intel-remote-keyboard-lets-you-easily-cont...
  • So its better option if we cant afford 950xl then we can enjoy continuum like feature with this stick so stick+lumia 520=USD200 which is cheaper than Lumia 950xl (USD 650).
  • This is far better. The 950/XL run Windows Phone 10. Not full Windows 10. This stick runs full Windows 10. Which means that you'll get a far more powerful tool for the same thing the Continuum would serve you...for the same price of the Continuum dock alone.
  • Surely the InFocus Kangaroo is better than this, has a lot more USPs anyway.
  • I bought one of these. 32GB is too cramped for these sorts of devices. it would only add another buck or two to the cost to make them 64. which should be the baseline standard.
  • There is a SD card slot. Should be enough. It is not really a proper PC anyway to store stuff.
  • As cheap as ram is these days, I'm surprised they couldn't squeeze at least 4 gigs in there. Awesome review though. I still think this is pretty awesome. The age of a pc in your pocket is here! Posted via.........deez nutz!!!!!!
  • Is there a review out there comparing together the specs and performance of these devices, specifically the Intel, Lenovo, and Kangaroo ones?
  • Better invest more and build your mini PC around the Intel NUC.
    Even the i3 version is powerful enough for basic tasks and 240GB SSD and 8 GB RAM is very cheap nowadays.
    You can place it behind your TV with the 100x100 adapter which is included. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • is that a Lenovo Ideacentre Stick 300em​ or are u excited to see
  • Please be cautious upgrading this to Windows 10. I did it over the weekend and it's bricked. Lenovo customer support was completely unhelpful too, clearly not reading my problems and even linked how to fix guides involving fixing a touchpad on a Lenovo laptop; nothing to do with my problem. I've had to return it
  • Common Mark, don't bash this device for not being able to multitask or play graphic intensive games for a long time. That is not the intended use anyway. I would rather buy it as soon as it get launched in India for this price. While I do have a 'smart' TV, it is freakingly complicated to operate. Moreover even with youtube, it has isues with certain videos and at times the pre-installed chrome brower crashes. I would love to have this kind of an accesory to browse internet with ease on my TV. I can even watch videos, movies, check my mails and even work on Office suites, if I am working from home. I am sure it will have outlook too. So use my TV as a smart TV when I am in fun mood or use it as a proper PC if I have to work. All this at a little over $100 (I am counting price of keyboard and mouse with it). I would love it.
  •   Got this stick for $69 on Black Friday. Great little device. I can play HD stream video all day long without overheating or slow down. Full bitrate BD rip plays fine as well. Yes, 32GB storage is limited but for what it is intended for, an HTPC for media playback, it is more than enough. I have no trouble doing Windows 10 updates. Keep in mind, this stick runs Win10 32-bit out of box, The 32-bit version of OS occupies much less storage space than 64-bit version. Out of box, it uses somewhere around 10GB of space, leaving you close to 20GB of free space. Just don't install tons of apps of software.    
  • Good review. I am in the market for one of these. But not this one, doesnt seems powerfull, there is nothing more annoying that a slow computer on a big TV.
  • MS made this holiday shopping easy this year, got my parents and my sister's family each one with keyboard mouse combo.  They love them, my parents travel a lot and chromecast wasn't doing it for them so they appreciated a full windows setup.  My sister loves it since they don't have room for a full desktop and it's perfect for helping my nephew with any homework.  I haven't heard anything bad from them yet, but I played with one of them and was having trouble streaming netflix without lag. I myself passed on getting one because I was waiting for my continuum dock.
  • Just a heads up - I downloaded a firmware update from Lenovo, which bricked my stick. Lenovo only gives 90 days warranty on these so it was end of life for the stick.
  • Real user review: Dont buy it! I use it for 4 months and suddenly Windows crashes with a blue screen and tries to autorepair. The first time was solved with the autorepair, then it happened again with no use, only an open browser. After the autorepair it gets stuck on the Lenovo Screen. There is no supportof Lenovo after 3 months, they dont repair it and you loose your money. The sn of my Leovo Ideacentre Stick 300 is: YF00275A. The Support number of useless people of Lenovo is: 226 047 392