- Low price
- Solid build
- Great keyboard and trackpad
- Poor speakers
- Limiting Google Chrome OS
- Wobbly screen
Lenovo's 100s Chromebook has flaws in just about every area we looked at, but for $179 they are easy to look past.
The Lenovo 100s Chromebook is an 11.6-inch laptop targeted towards users on the go. While the 100s doesn’t have the performance to replace your desktop, it can handle your web browsing and
basic computing needs. Starting at $179 on Lenovo’s site, the 100s Chromebook feels like a great deal but there are a few areas that show this is a budget device.
Build and Design
The Lenovo 100s doesn’t offer much in the way of color options, which is standard practice on budget Chromebooks such as the HP Chromebook 11, but it has a solid build. The exterior of the chassis has a woven texture that feels nice to touch and provides extra grip, making the device easy to hold when closed. However, the plastic material picks up fingerprints easily and that means skin oils and dirt create noticeable streaks after only handling the device for a few minuets. The screen bezels are quite wide and can be distracting, but we’ve found pronounced bezels like this on most Chromebooks.
The 100s sports a dual hinge that allows the device to open fluidly, although there is some wobble. The main chassis and keyboard deck feel very solid and don’t give under pressure. The screen on the other hand is flimsy and flexes from minimal pressure as you open or move the screen lid. The wobble and flimsiness aren’t due to the hinges but are most likely caused by the very thin screen, which helps to give the device a thinner profile. When closed the 100s is just 0.8-inches thick, and at 2.6 pounds the 100s is lightweight and portable for an 11.6-inch laptop. For comparison the $249 11.6-inch Dell Chromebook 11 has a 1-inch thickness and weighs 3 pounds. Whereas some newer Chromebooks feature larger screens and are designed as low-cost desktop replacements, it is easy to tell the 100s was built with mobile users in mind.
The 100s has great connectivity for a small budget device. The left side holds the majority of ports with a full-sze HDMI, 4-in-1 card reader, USB 2.0, and a combination mic/headphone jack. The right side holds only a USB 3.0 port. The lack of an Ethernet port is annoying seeing as Chromebooks require an Internet connection to take full advantage of all the features. For a device that relies on the Internet a wired connection option should be standard.
Display and Speakers
Lenovo definitely saved a few dollars making the display of the 100s. The standard TN panel has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels and won’t give the clearest images but text is easy enough to make out. This isn’t an IPS (In Plane Switching) display like what you’ll find on nice tablets or more expensive laptops, which is surprising as the viewing angles are actually decent despite the fact that contrast and color still fade as the vertical viewing angle increases. Images and video are relatively clear and most colors come across well although some brighter colors appeared dull. The screen backlight is mediocre in terms of brightness; it cut through indirect sunlight fairly easily but the screen surface is hindered by some glare.
The speakers are quite weak. Located on the bottom of the device they struggle to carry sound and the bass is near non-existent. The speakers will sound muffled if you’re using the 100s on your lap, but the sound tends to “bounce” back toward the user if the 100s is resting on a hard surface like a desk or table. There is not much distortion when playing music loudly, which is a small plus for otherwise poor speakers.
Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard and trackpad are a joy to use and feel like they belong on a more expensive laptop. The keys save smooth travel and there is great feedback that lets you know you’ve completed each keystroke. The keys are also comfortable with enough grip and space between them that hitting the wrong key doesn’t happen too often. Important keys such as Shift, Enter and the space bar are all full-sized.
The trackpad is large (for an 11-inch Chromebook) and is both very smooth and responsive. Users can navigate web pages with simple gestures and I rarely found the cursor out of place. This is a buttonless “Clickpad” in that the bottom half of the trackpad surface works as the left click and hitting the alt key while clicking works as the right click. The combination of the keyboard and trackpad go a long way in making the 100s feel less like a budget device.