The $899 Lenovo IdeaPad 710S seeks to pack everything you need into a light little frame. This sleek 13-inch notebook includes a gorgeous screen, a solid keyboard and surprisingly strong audio. We do wish this system lasted longer on a charge, but overall, it's worth the premium price.
The 13-inch IdeaPad 710S is a slim, magnesium-and-aluminum wedge of a notebook. Reflective Lenovo branding sits on the top-left corner of the lid and chunky rubber feet adorn its bottom.
Measuring 0.6 inches thick and weighing 2.6 pounds, the IdeaPad 701S is thinner and lighter than the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 (0.8 inches, 3.4 pounds) and similar to the Asus ZenBook UX330UA (0.5 inches, 2.7 pounds).
On the left side of the IdeaPad, you'll find its USB 2.0 port, SD memory reader and pin-hole-size recovery/reset button. Its power port, dual USB 3.0 ports (one is Type-C, the other Type-A) and headphone jack sit on the right.
Annoyingly, that Type-C connector is data-only and doesn't draw power, similar to the Asus ZenBook UX330UA's connector. The Inspiron 13, on the other hand, can charge from its Type-C port.
Inside, the 710s Plus' fingerprint reader sits underneath the bottom-right corner of the island-style keyboard. Among other purposes, the fingerprint reader enables speedy logins via Windows Hello. The Inspiron doesn't sport such a sensor, while the ZenBook's is inconveniently located in the top-right corner of its touchpad.
The bright, 13.3-inch screen in the IdeaPad 710S produces jaw-dropping images. Watching a trailer for Buster's Mal Heart on the 1920 x 1080-pixel panel, I noted the vibrant blues of a well-lit pool, inky-dark corners of a hotel lobby and a wide range of realistic greens in a forest scene. Fine details, such as the small glimmer of a screen's reflection in Rami Malek's right eye, came through clearly.
According to our colorimeter, the IdeaPad 710S produces 121 percent of the sRGB spectrum. That beats the 96-percent ultraportable average, as well as the measurements from the Inspiron 13 (69 percent) and the ZenBook UX330UA (106 percent).
The IdeaPad's screen is also rather accurate, as it netted a score of 0.2 on the Delta-E test (0 is perfect). That trounces the 2.6 category average, and readings from the Inspiron 13 (1.7) and the ZenBook UX330UA (1.11).
Need a flashlight? Just turn up the brightness on the IdeaPad 710S, which emits up to 346 nits. That beats the 288-nit category average, and the dimmer marks from the Inspiron 13 (228 nits) and the ZenBook UX330UA (286 nits). It also enables solid viewing angles; I saw its colors stay strong at 45 degrees to the left and right.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The IdeaPad 710S' backlit keyboard and buttonless touchpad enable comfortable input. Testing the notebook out on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I click-clacked my way to 77 words per minute, just shy of my 80-wpm average.
While the 1.3 millimeters of travel in the keys is less than the 1.5 to 2 mm we hope to see, they require 70 grams of force to actuate, which is well above the preferred 60 grams. I found the Inspiron 13's keyboard equally easy to use, whereas the ZenBook UX330UA's keyboard suffers from a stiff feel.
While I eventually got used to the half-size shift key on the right side of the keyboard, Lenovo needs to stop making keyboards that have this key. While it enables the company to use larger directional arrows, it kept tripping me up as I typed, creating typos and forcing me to forego that shift key altogether.
The notebook's 4.1 x 2.7-inch touchpad offers accurate input tracking and a solid feel to each click. It also speedily registers Windows 10's three-finger switching gestures.
The JBL stereo speakers in the IdeaPad produced enough volume to fill our large conference room. When I tested it out on DJ Khaled's "I'm The One," the notebook emitted sturdy bass guitar twangs, clear vocals and accurate synths.
The IdeaPad 710S includes a Dolby Audio app with speaker presets, including Movies, Voice and Games. Playing with these options while watching trailers, music videos and interviews, I found the best audio quality came with the Music preset, the default option.
The IdeaPad 710S features a 7th Gen Intel Core i5-7200U processor and 8GB of RAM, enabling solid multitasking. I saw no lag after splitting my screen between a 1080p video and a dozen Chrome tabs including Google Docs, Slack and TweetDeck. The system continued to be responsive after I opened Camera, Photos, Maps, OneNote and Edge.
The IdeaPad 710S earned a score of 6,497 on the Geekbench 4 general-performance test, which is lower than the scores from the Inspiron 13 (6,707) and the ZenBook UX330UA (7,182), which both feature the same CPU and RAM. The 6,722 ultraportable category average is also higher.
The 256GB PCIe SSD in the IdeaPad 710S duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 18 seconds, for a speed of 282 MBps. That's faster than the 184.6-MBps category average, as well as the times from the SSDs in the Inspiron 13 (110.6 MBps) and the ZenBook UX330UA (159 MBps).
On the OpenOffice productivity macro test (matching 20,000 names to addresses), the IdeaPad 710S finished the task in 4 minutes and 12 seconds. The Inspiron 13 and ZenBook UX330UA came in tied at a shorter 4:03.
The Intel HD Graphics 620 chip in the IdeaPad 710S pushed it to a score of 61,201 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test. The same chip enabled the ZenBook UX330UA to earn a higher score of 66,645 and the Inspiron 13 to net a lower one of 55,827. The ultraportable category average is a lower 53,895.
You can run some mainstream games with modest requirements on this Lenovo. It ran the Dirt 3 racing title at 36 frames per second, which is similar to the rates from the Inspiron 13 (38 fps) and the ZenBook UX330UA (33 fps).
The biggest drawback of the 710S Plus is its below-average battery life. On the Laptop Mag Battery Life Test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi, the system lasted 7 hours and 7 minutes. While that runtime outlasts the 6:30 mark from the Inspiron 13, it's below the 8:19 category average and the excellent 10:17 from the ZenBook UX330UA.
Laptop webcams are a lot like the Stormtroopers on the Death Star: ubiquitous and bad at their jobs. And this one is no different. In our well-lit office, the 0.9-megapixel camera above the IdeaPad's display captured grainy selfies with so much digital noise that it looked like I was using a VHS cassette filter (ask your parents if you don't know what those are).
The IdeaPad 710S is cool to the touch. After we streamed 15 minutes of HD video on the notebook, our heat gun picked up temperatures on its touchpad (75 degrees Fahrenheit), G and H keys (82.5 degrees) and underside (85.5 degrees) that fell far below our 95-degree comfort threshold.
Software and Warranty
Lenovo loves to preload systems with its own utilities, and only some are useful. While the Connect2 file-transfer software doesn't seem entirely necessary (what with email, cloud backup and messaging apps), Lenovo's Companion system info app and Settings utility corral otherwise hard-to-find data and options.
The IdeaPad 710S comes with a one-year warranty that includes service via mailed-in repairs. Check out our Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands report to see how Lenovo stacked up against other tech titans.
The thin and light IdeaPad 710S Plus' brilliant display, comfy keyboard and sweet sound make it a joy to use. But this ultraportable's battery life doesn't measure up to the best systems in its class.
The Asus ZenBook UX330UA lasts 3 hours longer on a charge and costs $200 less, but it packs a dimmer display and a worse keyboard. If you're willing to take the charger with you for longer stints, the IdeaPad 710S Plus is a fantastic machine for work and play.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag