Lenovo Ideapad 100 Review

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Strong everyday performance; Snappy keyboard; Very little bloatware

The Cons

Runs hot on bottom; Subpar battery life; Rough touchpad;

Verdict

The Lenovo Ideapad 100 offers dependable performance for less than $400, but its short battery life and heat issues make it a tough sell.

The Lenovo Ideapad 100 aims to satisfy those who want Windows on a budget. This $339 laptop packs an Intel Celeron processor and a 14-inch HD display into a lightweight and slim package that comes mostly devoid of annoying bloatware. But while the Ideapad 100 offers fairly strong performance for a low price, its short battery life and tendency to overheat should make you consider other budget options.

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Design

In terms of looks, you get what you pay for with the Ideapad 100. This no-frills notebook sports an all-plastic matte design, with a small silver Lenovo logo on the exterior and a black coat of paint throughout. The laptop's lid is nicely textured, but it's extremely prone to fingerprint smudges.

Although the notebook's edges are fairly slim, its left edge is broken up by an unsightly Ethernet port that protrudes toward the bottom. Aside from that slight eyesore, the Ideapad 100's USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and HDMI ports, and headphone jack all blend seamlessly into the laptop's left side.

At 13.4 x 9.3 x 0.8 inches, the Ideapad 100 is similar in size to other budget-minded notebooks such as the HP Stream 13 (13.1 x 9 x 0.77 inches) and the Toshiba Chromebook 2 (12.6 x 8.4 x 0.76 inches). The 3.2-pound Ideapad is light enough to take on the road and weighs a little less than the 3.4-pound Stream 13, though it's not as light as the 2-pound Chromebook 2.

Display and Audio

The Ideapad 100's 14-inch, 1366 x 768 display is vibrant enough for surfing the Web and watching a few videos, but don't expect to be dazzled. The display resolution is on a par with that of the HP Stream 13, but it doesn't boast full HD like the Toshiba Chromebook 2 does.

The trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens looked mostly crisp on the Ideapad 100, but brighter scenes looked blown out. I could easily see the fine details on the faces of characters such as Han Solo and Finn, but things got fuzzy when a platoon of white-armored Stormtroopers showed up.

MORE: Best Laptops Under $500

Lenovo's notebook registered 260 nits on our brightness test, outshining the Stream 13 (166 nits) but falling short of the Chromebook 2's impressive 339 nits, as well as the 274-nit average for ultraportables.

The Ideapad's top-facing speaker isn't very loud, and its audio quality is a little lacking. The Gaslight Anthem's "1,000 Years" was far from unlistenable on the laptop, but the song's normally beefy rhythm guitars sounded thin and dull. The song's multilayered vocals came through clearly, though there was a distinct lack of bass.

Keyboard, Touchpad and Webcam

The Ideapad 100's Chiclet-style keyboard provided satisfying feedback, allowing me to comfortably blaze through the Key Hero Typing Test at a quick 102 words per minute with perfect accuracy.

Unfortunately, I didn't have nearly as good a time with the notebook's touchpad. The laptop's click button is unpleasantly stiff and has an archaic seesaw design that doesn't allow you to click the middle of it.

The 3.6 x 2.2-inch touchpad has the same rough matte surface as the rest of the notebook, making it difficult to perform touch gestures such as pinching to zoom.

Most Windows laptops I've tested take fairly grainy photos, but the Ideapad's webcam is especially bad. My blurry selfies looked more like watercolor paintings, with dull colors and a notable lack of facial detail.

Performance

Powered by an Intel Celeron N2940 processor with 4GB of RAM, the Ideapad 100 handled basic tasks with ease. I used the machine to hop among a dozen Chrome tabs while downloading a movie trailer and streaming video from both YouTube and Twitch, and I didn't notice any major performance hiccups.

The Ideapad 100 scored a 2,446 on the Geekbench 3 performance test, beating the Intel N2840-powered Stream 13 (1,802) but coming up short of the 4,503 category average. The Ideapad's browser performance couldn't quite compete with that of other notebooks: Its Peacekeeper score of 715 was lower than both the Toshiba's 1,462 and the HP Stream's 1,536.

The Ideapad took a sluggish 18 minutes and 6 seconds to match 20,000 names to their addresses on our spreadsheet test. That's a few minutes slower than the HP Stream (15:12) and more than twice as sluggish as our 8:17 average.

MORE: 5 Best Toshiba Laptops

Budget notebooks rarely double as gaming machines, and the same goes for the Ideapad 100. The laptop struggled with World of Warcraft, running the game at an unplayable 14 frames per second on auto settings at its native 1366 x 768 resolution.

Battery Life and Heat

If you're taking the Ideapad 100 out for the day, make sure to bring a charger. Lenovo's notebook lasted a middling 4 hours and 45 minutes on our battery test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi), falling behind the Chromebook 2 (7:48) and the Stream 13 (6:26). The Ideapad 100's endurance is also shorter than the average budget laptop's (about 5 hours).

On top of its subpar battery life, the Ideapad 100 can get a bit too hot for comfort. After streaming HD video for 15 minutes, the laptop's underside hit 103.5 degrees, which is well above our 95-degree comfort threshold. Although the notebook's touchpad and keyboard rose to a tolerable 90 degrees each, the Ideapad's toasty underside make it less than ideal for long hours of lap use.

Software

Fortunately, the Ideapad 100 comes mostly free of the bloatware that sometimes plagues budget Windows 8.1 systems. The Lenovo Companion app serves as a central hub, allowing you to check your laptop's health, view your warranty and user guide, and find links to accessories and tips articles.

SHAREit  is a handy app that lets you transfer files between the PC and your mobile device, and REACHit   allows you to access your cloud-based files from a variety of services, such as Google Drive and Dropbox. On the security front, McAfee Central lets you check on your PC's safety status, and Lenovo's OneKey Recovery tool makes it easy to back up your hard drive and restore your system.

Bottom Line

The Lenovo Ideapad 100 delivers dependable Windows performance for less than $400. Its 14-inch display is colorful enough for enjoying a few shows on Netflix, and its Celeron processor has the guts to get you through basic work tasks.

Unfortunately, the laptop's 4.5-hour battery life and occasionally hot underside will remind you that this is a budget machine. If you're looking for an even cheaper Windows notebook and can sacrifice some storage space, the Web-friendly HP Stream 13 offers better battery life and stronger speakers for just $209. And if you can live without Windows, the excellent Toshiba Chromebook 2 sports a rich full-HD display and an alluring, slim design for as low as $279.

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CPU Intel Celeron N2940
Operating System Windows 8.1
RAM 4GB
RAM Upgradable to
Hard Drive Size 500GB
Hard Drive Speed 5,400rpm
Hard Drive Type SATA Hard Drive
Secondary Hard Drive Size
Secondary Hard Drive Speed
Secondary Hard Drive Type
Display Size 14.1
Native Resolution 1366x768
Optical Drive
Optical Drive Speed
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics Gen7 4EU
Video Memory
Wi-Fi 802.11n
Wi-Fi Model
Bluetooth
Mobile Broadband
Touchpad Size 3.6 x 2.2
Ports (excluding USB) HDMI
Ports (excluding USB) USB 2.0
Ports (excluding USB) USB 3.0
USB Ports
Warranty/Support
Size 13.4 x 9.3 x 0.8 inches
Weight 3.2 pounds
Company Website www.lenovo.com
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