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.