- Low price
- Lightweight and attractive
- Good-size keyboard
- Decent sound
- Just 32GB of built-in storage, with 17GB available to the user
- Screen colors aren't vivid, and resolution is just adequate
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.