Laptop trends have been making an interesting shift lately. Since the introduction of the Chromebook, it seems that major laptop companies have taken a decided interest in machines with a lower price point. Whereas traditionally (or at least for the last decade or so) the majority of laptops fell pretty uniformly into the $400-700 range, current trends indicate that this “middle ground” of sorts will soon be all but obsolete. The future of laptops will more likely lie in two fragmented categories: high-end, high-performing, high-dollar machines for those who can afford them, and budget laptops for customers who don’t have much to spend and simply need to get basic jobs done.
Lenovo’s latest addition to the budget laptop world comes in the form of the IdeaPad 100s. While this is by no means their first foray into the budget laptop business, it is their first machine to offer Windows 10 for less than $200. According to the company’s official Reviewer’s Guide, the IdeaPad 100s is “for buyers shopping on a very limited budget who require a Microsoft Windows environment.” So aside from Windows, how much computing power was Lenovo able to pack into a laptop for under $200? The answer is, about what you’d expect. The IdeaPad 100s is a plastic laptop that runs on a low-power 1.33-GHz Intel Atom processor and just 2GB of RAM. It comes with 32GB of eMMC storage memory (I should note here that nearly half of this is already taken up by Windows 10 when it gets to you) which can be expanded via a microSD card. The display is also about what you’d expect, an 11.6-inch non-touch screen with a 1,366 x 768-pixel resolution that tops out at around 243 nits of brightness. The keyboard, an area that has long been considered a strength of Lenovo’s, is large and surprisingly well-spaced for an 11.6-inch machine. The ports, however, are likely to leave you a little wanting – on the left side you’ll find a power port, HDMI-out, an audio jack and a microSD card reader, while the right side houses a meager two USB 2.0 ports. Something you will probably notice is the lack of a USB 3.0 port, a surprising exclusion for a laptop made in 2015.
While most of the features of the IdeaPad 100s are fairly standard in a “you get what you pay for” world, it does have a few standout qualities. The battery life, for instance, is impressive to say the least. The system will provide an estimated 7 to 9 hours of “normal use” per charge (normal use falling into the category of web browsing, word processing and other typical daily workload activities). Plus, it performs surprisingly well while running multiple programs and is able to play HD video from sites like YouTube without any stuttering issues. The speakers and web cam, while perfectly functional, are nothing to write home about, but they aren’t being advertised as the bread and butter of this budget machine anyways. For $199 ($149.99 if you buy it through Best Buy, which is less than what Lenovo normally charges for some replacement batteries) you get a machine that can get basic tasks done with little to no interruption and even includes a free year of Microsoft’s Office 365 Personal program, which includes all the Office programs and a terabyte of cloud storage, a package that normally costs $70 a year by itself.
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