Lenovo Ideapad 100S Review: Windows 10 on a Budget

by Reads (33,239)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 8
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 6
    • Usability
    • 7
    • Design
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 6
    • Features
    • 6
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 7.14
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Overview

  • Pros

    • Low price
    • Lightweight and attractive
    • Good-size keyboard
    • Decent sound
  • Cons

    • Just 32GB of built-in storage, with 17GB available to the user
    • Screen colors aren't vivid, and resolution is just adequate

Quick Take

The Lenovo Ideapad 100S is lightweight and attractive with a very usable keyboard, making it a surprisingly good budget laptop. Its Atom processor is only up to light duty, however.


Many people, from schoolkids to soccer moms, need a computer that’s not too heavy or too expensive, like the Ideapad 100S. This is a lightweight, budget laptop for casual use: only 2.2 pounds, $199.99, and it runs Windows 10 on an Intel Atom processor. We recently reviewed the Lenovo 100S Chromebook that uses Google’s Chrome OS instead of Windows, but we suspect the majority of our readers will be more interested in the Windows 10 version of this budget laptop.

Is it inexpensive or just cheap? Read on to find out.

Lenovo 100s front

The Lenovo Ideapad 100S runs Windows 10 for just $200.

Build and Design

This device doesn’t really feel like a budget notebook. It’s very light, and just 0.7 in. thick, but it doesn’t feel flimsy. Instead, it comes across as a well built product, even though its entire exterior is plastic. That said, it also doesn’t feel like it would survive real punishment. For example, it will ride nicely in a backpack, as long as it isn’t stuffed in there with 50 pounds of textbooks.

Lenovo offers the Ideapad 100S in blue, red, grey, and white. The finish on our red review unit is matte, so it doesn’t show fingerprints, which helps make it look like a quality device. The color is bright without being too garish.

The hinges are firm enough to hold the display steady, and they support 180 degrees of rotation, so the Ideapad 100S can be laid out flat. This isn’t a convertible though, so the keyboard can’t be folded behind the screen.

The power button is just above and to the left of the keyboard, and is just about the only external part of this laptop that made of metal. Next to it are LEDs to indicate power and charging.

Ports

There is a pair of USB ports on the right side. These are USB 2.0, so they max out at 60 MB/s. By contrast, devices with USB 3.0 ports have a max data transfer speed of about 5 GB/s. The USB ports in the Ideapad 100S are fast enough for everyday use, just as long as that don’t involve moving around huge video files.

ports leftports right

On the left side is a microSD memory card slot, which is likely to see a lot of use, as this laptop comes with just 32GB of built-in storage. We tested this device with a 64GB card without problems.

Also on the left edge is an HDMI video-out port, allowing this device to be used with an external monitor. In our tests, this function performed as expected. The headset port and power port are on this same edge. Rather than the new USB Type C, the Ideapad 100S uses a traditional barrel plug for power.

Display and Speakers

This notebook has an 11.6-inch screen with a resolution of 1366 x 768, which results in a low pixel density of 135 pixels per inch. Text doesn’t appear obviously pixelated, but neither is it the kind of crystal clarity offered by high-resolution displays. Displays of this size are barely adequate for running two applications side-by-side, like the Edge web browser and Microsoft Word.

Lenovo had to cut some corners in order to keep the cost of this device below $200, and colors on this screen are washed out, not vivid. Cranking the backlight up all the way helps a bit, but that’s hard on the battery. On the other hand, a matte finish means it’s not too reflective — a nice touch. As with most budget laptops that use low-cost TN display panels, the optimal viewing angles are very narrow; you won’t want to watch Netflix on this laptop unless the screen is directly in front of you.

screen frontscreen side
screen forwardscreen back

There’s a pair of speakers set below the display. These have Dolby Advanced Audio Certification, and offer decent if not outstanding performance. They are up to the job of providing audio for video playing on this device, or to play music while typing.

The keyboard on the Ideapad 100S is small but feels nice.

The keyboard on the Ideapad 100S is small but feels nice.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The keyboard in the Ideapad 100S is 10 inches wide — desktop keyboards are about 11.25 inches — but it’s easily large enough for comfortable touch typing. There’s good key separation and adequate key travel. It’s in a standard QWERTY layout with six rows of keys, including a top row with function keys that can also be used to control the audio volume, adjust the screen backlight brightness, and more.

This keyboard isn’t particularly quiet, but it does feel a bit better than a $200 price tag would imply.

At 3.25 x 1.7 inches, the trackpad is large enough to be useful, and it is quite responsive. The same is true of the two dedicated control buttons that are attached beneath it.



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  1. johnatrott

    I wonder how long it will be, if ever, before dim-witted manufacturers will stop ruining the reputation of netbooks with idiotic penny pinching under specification. This and many other similar machines could be EXCELLENT if available with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. It would be well worth the small extra cost to have an uncrippled machine running Windows. What a damnable waste!

  2. AtariBaby

    Honestly I feel bad for all the unsuspecting users who will buy this. I wonder if you can even run this thing with Windows 10 plus Office on it. my home PC has a windows 10 partition plus a handful of essential software apps and it’s taking up 60GB!

  3. GTMoraes

    Well, I don’t have any problems using Windows plus Office on my 8in Windows tablet, using a Bluetooth keyboard (the Logitech K480 is great) and mouse, which packs similar specs (ThinkPad 8, Atom Z3770, 1920×1200, 2gb RAM, 64gb eMMC). Also listening to a Spotify Playlist. While periodically checking Facebook and Reddit. Sometimes, I also connect it through HDMI to my 22″ FHD monitor and work with it without problems.

    Absolutely no problemo. These little things are great for your casual media consumption and light office work.

    I also have no problems compiling small (<4000 lines) code on Codeblocks, and running it (it doesn't like when I forget to free some unused allegro sprites, though). It also plays pretty fine on its own, given its a highly optimized engine (like Source), old (like 2d Fallout series) or streamed from a main rig (I played Fallout 4 from it without issues for a while, streaming from my PC).

    Don't pre judge. Although I'd prefer a touch tablet or hybrid at this price tag and size (like Asus Transformer, which also comes with a 500gb HDD and USB 3.0), these little machines are quite fine, nothing like the first batch of Atom netbooks from years ago.