The thin and light Lenovo Ideapad 710S offers a lot for only $799. The ultraportable laptop sports a nimble Core i5 processor, strong sound and a bright, vivid 13.3-inch display that helps it stand out from the pack. While its keyboard layout may confuse some users at first and we'd rather Lenovo knock it off with the bloatware, the Ideapad 710S is a serious contender for your next ultraportable notebook.
The Lenovo Ideapad 710S is a sleek, silver ultraportable with a magnesium-aluminum case. The display's left and right bezels are quite thin, though the top edge is twice as thick because it holds the notebook's webcam.
The Lenovo Ideapad 710S weighs a mere 2.4 pounds, which is less than the Asus ZenBook UX303UA (3.4 pounds), the late-2015 nontouch Dell XPS 13 (2.7 pounds) and the Acer Aspire S 13 (2.9 pounds). Measuring 0.55 inches thick, it's thinner than the Asus ZenBook UX303UA (0.8 inches) and similar to the Acer Aspire S 13 (0.57 inches). The XPS 13 measures 0.3 to 0.6 inches thick.
As thin as the Ideapad 710S is, it offers a decent amount of connectivity. A USB 3.0 port and headphone jack sit on its left side, and you can find a second USB 3.0 port, an SD card reader and a mini-HDMI port on the right side.
The Lenovo Ideapad 710S' 13.3-inch 1080p display is sharp and provides great color. When I streamed a Suicide Squad trailer on the notebook, I was captivated by the small cracks of Killer Croc's scales and the details of El Diablo's tattoos. The electric green of the Joker's hair appeared vividly on the panel; dark corners of Gotham rendered with accurate, inky-black tones; and flames shot from El Diablo with a rich, orange glow.
According to our colorimeter, the 710S' screen produces 110 percent of the sRGB spectrum. That's more than the Aspire S 13 (107 percent), the Dell XPS 13 (92 percent) and the ultraportable average (89 percent), but slightly less than the Asus ZenBook UX303UA (116 percent).
The Ideapad 710S renders colors accurately, according to its 0.95 score on the Delta-E test (zero is perfect). That's better than the ZenBook UX303UA (4.3), the XPS 13 (8.2) and the category average (3.7), and similar to the Aspire S 13 (0.98).
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The Ideapad 710S' display can get exceptionally bright, emitting up to 326 nits (a measure of brightness). That's similar to the Aspire S 13 (327 nits) and the ZenBook UX303UA (322 nits), and brighter than the Dell XPS 13 (318 nits) and the category average (303 nits). This allows for excellent viewing angles, as I saw colors stay strong at 45 degrees to the left and right.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The 710S' backlit keyboard provides a comfortable typing experience, but its layout has a learning curve. Its keys offer only 1.35 millimeters of travel (less than the 1.5 to 2 mm we hope to see), and the keys aren't as clicky as I'd like, but I still typed my way to 80 words per minute, which ties my average.
Lenovo shrank the right Shift key to the size of a regular letter key, and placed it to the right of the Up key, in a space that confused my touch-typist hands for a while. Also, the directional buttons are just as large as the letter keys -- another twist in this irregular keyboard. I got used to these peculiarities during testing, but the choices still baffle me.
The Ideapad 710S' buttonless 4.1 x 2.7-inch touchpad accurately registered my fingers as I navigated the desktop. It quickly recognized two-finger scrolling in Chrome and three-finger Windows navigation gestures.
The Ideapad 710S may be thin, but it filled our large conference room with a strong rendition of Radiohead's "Burn the Witch." The track's undercurrent of humming bass sounded strong, Thom Yorke's vocals came through clearly and violin strings rendered sweetly.
Lenovo's preloaded Dolby Audio enhancement utility offers a number of presets -- including Dynamic, Movie and Game -- but I found the default Music option provided the best balance.
Armed with a Core i5-6200U processor and 8GB of RAM, the Lenovo Ideapad 710S supports productive multitasking. When I split my screen among 17 Chrome tabs -- including Slack, a Google Doc and TweetDeck -- and a streaming YouTube video, I moved among tabs and scrolled through articles without seeing any lag. I only noticed slowdown after I added an 18th tab, a simple blog post that wouldn't demand much on its own.
The Ideapad 710S earned a decent score of 6,180 on the Geekbench 3 general performance test, which handily beats the average ultraportable notebook (5,101). The Core i5-6200U-powered Aspire S 13 (6,331), ZenBook UX303UA (6,290) and XPS 13 (6,391) notched slightly higher marks.
The Ideapad 710S' 128GB SSD is slower than its competitors', as it duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 45 seconds, for a speed of 113.1 MBps. The category average (145.47 MBps), as well as the SSDs in the Aspire S 13 (167.61 MBps), the ZenBook UX303UA (159.04 MBps) and the XPS 13 (231.33 MBps), copied at speedier rates.
The Ideapad 710S earned a fair time on our OpenOffice macro test, matching 20,000 names to addresses in 4 minutes and 30 seconds. That's a shorter time than the category average (7:13), slightly quicker than the XPS 13 (4:34), and close behind the Aspire S 13 and the ZenBook UX303UA (both 4:29).
Though it only features integrated Intel HD 520 graphics, the Ideapad 710S provided enough torque for me to play rounds of the casual games Asphalt 8 and Candy Crush Soda Saga. The Ideapad earned a 53,769 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test, which beats the XPS 13 (49,394) and the ultraportable average (46,260), though the Aspire S 13 (63,280) and the ZenBook UX303UA (63,849) notched higher scores.
The Lenovo Ideapad 710S provides decent endurance, but its competitors offer more. The Ideapad lasted 7 hours and 25 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test; that's below the ultraportable average (7:53). The Aspire S 13 (9:08), ZenBook UX303UA (8:27) and XPS 13 (11:54) lasted longer.
The Lenovo Ideapad 710S' 0.9-megapixel webcam shot grainy, blurry selfies of me in our office. Its photos appear blotchy and contain little detail, but the red wall with our company's Purch logo and the blue of my shirt rendered accurately.
You may notice a little warmth from the Ideapad 710S when using it in your lap. After we streamed 15 minutes of HD video on the notebook, our heat gun measured its underside at 94 degrees Fahrenheit, which is just shy of our 95-degree comfort threshold. Its touchpad (79.5 degrees) and keyboard (87.5 degrees) didn't breach our limit.
Lenovo packed the Ideapad 710S with a lot of its own system management utilities -- so many, in fact, that they're split into two groups in the Start menu. They include REACHit for sending files between devices, Lenovo Companion for running system diagnostics, OneKey Recovery for backups and Lenovo Settings for accessing settings.
The Lenovo Photo Master image management application includes photo adjustment features, such as a Beautify tool that enlarged my eyes, removed blemishes and lightened my skin tone. For more about why you'd want to wipe and reload Windows after you purchase a computer, read our piece on the downfalls of bloatware.
Lenovo sells the Ideapad 710S in three models, starting with the entry-level $799 configuration that offers a Core i5-6200U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD drive. For $1,199, you can get the notebook with a Core i7-6560U processor, 8GB of RAM, Intel Iris 540 graphics and a 512GB SSD. The top of-the-line $1,399 model is currently on sale for $1,199 and features a Core i7-6560U processor, 16GB of RAM, Intel Iris 540 graphics and a 512GB SSD.
The Lenovo Ideapad 710S is an ultraportable notebook worthy of gracing your bag. It's thinner and lighter than the competition, and packs enough speed and sound to liven up both your workflow and your next jam session. Unfortunately, Lenovo's keyboard layout takes some getting used to, and the notebook's battery life is a bit below average. But overall, the Ideapad 710S is a very strong lightweight notebook.
For $50 less than the 710S, you can get the Acer Aspire S 13, which offers comparable performance and more than hour of extra battery life. The Asus ZenBook UX303UA offers a better keyboard for a similar price, but it's a whole pound heavier. Our top ultraportable pick remains the Dell XPS 13, thanks to its borderless display and nearly 12 hours of battery life, but it's $100 more than the Lenovo when comparably configured.
All in all, if you prize lightness and a great display, the Ideapad 710S is a reliable 13.3-inch notebook you should definitely consider.