Lenovo IdeaPad 100S-11 ($179.99 as tested) is a low-price ultraportable laptop that’s built for those who need to accomplish basic work on the go. The lightweight, but solid design makes it ideal to take with you on your commute, and the extra-long battery life will keep you working throughout the day. Its 32-bit Windows 10 operating system and Atom processor mean its suited to simple tasks rather than heavy computing, but that’s to be expected at this price. The $230 HP Stream 13 has a larger screen and a 64-bit OS, but it’s less portable, and it has a shorter battery life. For its compact design, excellent battery life, and incredibly low price, the Lenovo IdeaPad 100S-11 is our Editors’ Choice for budget ultraportable laptops.
Design and Features
Compact, with an all-plastic build, the IdeaPad 100S-11 measures 0.68 by 11.4 by 7.9 inches (HWD) and weighs just 2.29 pounds. The plastic isn’t the most premium-feeling material, but it keeps the system light. The HP Stream 13 is a slightly larger 13-inch system that measures 0.77 by 13.25 by 9 inches and weighs 3.33 pounds. The 11.6-inch Lenovo S21e-20 measures 0.74 by 11.61 by 8.36 inches and 2.75 pounds, while the 10.6-inch Asus Chromebook Flip (C100PA-DB02), our Editors’ Choice for chromebooks, is a bit smaller (0.61 by 10.35 by 7.18 inches and 1.96 pounds). The HP Stream 11 (11-d020nr), the smaller version of the Stream 13, is roughly the same size as the IdeaPad, at 0.8 by 11.8 by 8.1 inches.
Both the IdeaPad100S-11 and the HP Stream 13 go for bold in terms of color scheme: The Lenovo unit features a bright-red lid and bottom, with black in the middle, while HP Stream 13’s exterior has a dark-to-light-blue gradient. The IdeaPad’s body feels pretty sturdy for a lightweight system, and the hinge is strong. The keyboard shows some flex because the system is so thin, and the keys themselves are a little loose. The touchpad, though small, is solid and responsive.
The 11.6-inch display features a 1,366-by-768 resolution, which is typical for the budget laptop category. The HP Stream 13, the Lenovo S21e-20, the E-Fun Nextbook 10.1, and the Dell Inspiron 15 Non-Touch (3531) all offer the same resolution. Higher, full-HD-resolution screens are generally found on more expensive systems, so 720p makes sense here to keep the cost down. The viewing angles on the IdeaPad 100S-11 aren’t great, however, so there’s definitely a sweet spot. The picture gets too dark and washes out quickly if you move too far to the side (or too far above or below) the center of the display, an issue we also experienced with the HP Stream 13. Otherwise, it’s generally bright and clear.
The 32GB of eMMC flash storage—with about 25GB free out of the box—isn’t exactly generous, but it’s not too far off from other systems in this range. The HP Stream 13 has the same amount, while the Lenovo S21e-20 offers 64GB. The Dell Inspiron 15 Non-Touch is a larger budget system, and has a much bigger 500GB hard drive. Most chromebooks in the same price range offer 16GB of storage, like the Asus Chromebook Flip.
Connectivity options include two USB 2.0 ports on the right side of the laptop, and an HDMI port, a headset jack, and a 2-in-1 (SD and MMC) card reader on the left, which means you can expand the built-in storage by quite a bit. There’s also Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi for wireless connectivity. Lenovo covers the laptop with a one-year warranty.
The system includes a 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3735F processor, Intel HD graphics, and 2GB of memory. As is typical of many small, budget ultraportables, the IdeaPad features a 32-bit operating system; thus, it couldn’t complete several of our 64-bit benchmark tests. It performed adequately on those it could run, scoring 1,399 points on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test and 1,174 points on the 3DMark Cloud Gate test. Its more expensive competition did edge it, however, with better overall scores for the HP Stream 13 (1,771 on PCMark 8; 1,245 on 3DMark Cloud Gate), the Lenovo S21e-20 (1,533 on PCMark 8; 1,150 on 3DMark Cloud Gate), the Intel Celeron-equipped Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14 (A01-431-C1FZ) (1,561 on PCMark 8; 1,513 on 3DMark Cloud Gate), and the Dell Inspiron 15 Non-Touch (1,554 on PCMark 8; 1,213 on 3DMark Cloud Gate).
All of these other systems were able to run the full set of multimedia tests, and the IdeaPad posted the best Handbrake time of the five at 7 minutes 50 seconds. The HP Stream 13 finished in 9:50, the Dell Inspiron 15 Non-Touch in 11:00, the Cloudbook 14 in 11:00, and the Lenovo S21e-20 in a very long 19:21. The IdeaPad couldn’t complete the CineBench and Photoshop tests, unlike the Cloudbook 14, though the latter wasn’t a strong performer on either one, at 62 points on Cinebench and 16:36 on Photoshop. None of the systems scored even remotely playable frame rates on the Heaven or Valley tests at Medium-quality settings, which means they’re capable of nothing more than very basic gaming.
Battery life is where the IdeaPad stands out, lasting an impressive 11:31 on our rundown test. Only the Acer Cloudbook 14 lasted longer (13:59). The HP Stream 13 was the next closest at 9:09, while the Dell Inspiron 15 Non-Touch and the Lenovo S21e-20 lasted 6:19 and 6:03, respectively. The longer-lasting battery life over the HP Stream 13 is a nice boon for those who plan to take their system on the road or away from the desk for long periods.
At such a low price, the Lenovo IdeaPad 100S-11 is a great ultraportable, boasting outstanding battery life and a light, but sturdy build. A full Windows 10 computer for $179.99 is an excellent value, and the machine’s hardware is plenty competent for the cost. The portable design is particularly appealing in this category, as it’s the perfect system to take on the go. The 64-bit HP Stream 13 is slightly more powerful and offers a larger display, but its battery won’t last as long. Because of the incredibly low price, portable build, and extra-long battery life, the Lenovo IdeaPad 100S-11 (80R2003XUS) is our Editors’ Choice for budget ultraportable laptops.