Lenovo has set its sights on the entry level market with the Lenovo Ideapad 100s and Chromebook 100s, both which will start at less than $200. The refreshed models offer considerably lower price points over older generations, but the savings do come at some noteable costs; including the inclusion of weaker processors, less RAM and little to none on-board memory in some models.
The Lenovo Ideapad 100s in particular marks a considerable price cut, with starting prices dropping more than a $100 over last year’s Ideapad 100. Of course Lenovo did have to make a few concessions to make that possible. The 11.6-inch FHD (1366 x 768) resolution display is more than 2-inches smaller the original. The device is running on a weaker Intel Atom Z3735F Quad-Core Processor, compared to the Intel Celeron chipset found in the Ideapad 100, it offers less memory with only 2GB of RAM and it has considerably less storage with options expanding only up to 64GB of eMMC.
While Notebook Review didn’t get a chance to fully test the Ideapad 100s, it’s clear that these changes will mean users can expect some performance drop. However, depending on your computing needs, that may not be such a big deal. The Ideapad 100s will still be ideal for users, that want a Windows 10 machine for basic web and word functions. As long as you don’t need the on-board storage the performance drop might actually be worth the lower price tag.
For those that want a Windows 10 experience with a little more umph, Lenovo has the 14-inch Ideapad 100s. The larger model not offers extra display real estate, but a number of spec upgrades, including up to 256GB of SSD storage (though 64GB eMMC models are available as well), and up to 4GB of memory. The 14-inch Ideapad 100s will still run on the same Atom chipset however. The 14-inch variant offers a few key upgrades, namely fast on-board storage, but with a steeper starting price of $260. Add in a few of these upgrades to get the most out of the Ideapad 100 and you can easily see that price go well north of $300.
If you don’t mind ditching Windows 10 then the new 11.6-inch Chromebook 100s may be a better option. The Google centric laptop offers up to an Intel Celeron N2840 processor, with 4GB of DDR3, and up to 32GB of eMMC on-board storage all for a competitive sub $200 price tag. The Chromebook offers the least amount of on-board storage of the three, but with a less resource intensive OS, that relies heavily on cloud computing that shouldn’t be too big an issue.
Design wise the notebooks all look rather similar, with plain but dependable designs. Key compression was a little shallow, but all three devices offered consistent feedback, making it easy to adjust and get into a comfortable typing grove. The touchpad shows a significant improvement opting for a softer plastic surface, instead of the coarse touchpad that was on the original Ideapad 100. The smooth surface allows for better travel and readability. Sure some entry level devices offer a flashy design, but I’d take Lenovo’s simple color pallet and comfortable inputs (keyboard and touchpad) any day.
All three budget devices will be made available for purchase in the United States starting in October. The Chromebook 100s will be the most affordable of the bunch starting at $180, the 11.6-inch Ideapad 100s will be slightly more expensive starting at $190, and the 14-inch 100s is notably more expensive starting at $260.