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The Lenovo Ideapad 100 offers reliable performance for less than $400, but its short battery life and heat issues make it a hard sell.
Strong everyday performance
Very little bloatware
Gets hot downstairs
Below average battery life
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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 light and sleek package that's mostly free of annoying bloatware But while the Ideapad 100 offers reasonably strong performance at a low price, its short battery life and tendency to overheat make you consider other budget options.
In terms of looks, you get what you pay for with the IdeaPad 100. This no-frills notebook has an all-plastic matte finish, a small silver Lenovo logo on the exterior, and an all-black finish. The laptop's lid is nicely textured, but it's extremely prone to fingerprints.
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Although the notebook's edges are quite slim, the left edge is interrupted by an unsightly Ethernet port that juts downward. Aside from that minor eyesore, the Ideapad's USB 2.0, USB 3.0, HDMI ports, and headphone jack all fit together 100 seamlessly into the left side of the laptop.
Lenovo Ideapad 100 size
13.4 x 9.3 x 0.8 inches
At 13.4 x 9.3 x 0.8 inches, the Ideapad 100 is similar in size to other budget-conscious notebooks like the HP Stream 13 (13.1 x 9 x 0.77 inches) and Toshiba Chromebook 2 (12.6 x 8.4 x 0.76 inches).Light enough for travel, the 3.2-pound Ideapad weighs slightly less than the 3.4-pound Stream 13, although 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 to surf the web and watch some videos, but don't expect glare. The display resolution is on par with the HP Stream 13 , but not like the Toshiba Chromebook 2 with Full HD.
Lenovo Ideapad 100 Display: test result
How it compares
The trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens looked crisp on the Ideapad 100 for the most part, but brighter scenes did look. I could easily make out the fine detail on the faces of characters like Han Solo and Finn, but things got blurry , as a platoon of white-armored stormtroopers appeared.
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Lenovo's notebook recorded 260 nits on our brightness test, beating the Stream 13 (166 nits) but falling short of the Chromebook 2's impressive 339 nits and the ultraportable average of 274 nits.
The Ideapad's upward-firing speaker isn't very loud, and the audio quality leaves a bit to be desired. The Gaslight anthem's "1,000 Years" was far from inaudible on the laptop, but the song's normally beefy rhythm guitars sounded thin and muffled .The song's layered vocals came through clearly, although there was a distinct lack of bass.
Keyboard, touchpad and webcam
The Ideapad 100's chiclet keyboard provided satisfactory feedback, allowing me to comfortably get through the Key Hero Typing Test at a fast 102 words per minute with perfect accuracy.
Unfortunately, I didn't have nearly as much fun with the notebook's touchpad. The laptop's click button is uncomfortably stiff and has an archaic rocker design that doesn't allow for a center click.
The 3.6 x 2.2-inch touchpad has the same rough matte finish as the rest of the notebook, making touch gestures like pinching to zoom difficult.
Most Windows laptops I've tested take fairly grainy photos, but the Ideapad's webcam is particularly poor. My blurry selfies looked more like watercolors, with dull colors and a noticeable lack of facial detail.
Powered by an Intel Celeron N2940 processor with 4GB of RAM, the Ideapad 100 handles simple tasks with ease. I used the machine to hop between a dozen Chrome tabs while downloading a movie trailer and streaming videos from YouTube and Twitch , and I haven't noticed any major performance hits.
The Ideapad 100 scored 2,446 on the Geekbench 3 performance test, beating the Intel N2840-powered Stream 13 (1,802) but falling short of the 4,503 category average. The Ideapad's browser performance didn't quite match that of other notebooks : Its Peacekeeper score of 715 was below 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 in 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.
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Budget notebooks rarely serve 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 automatic settings in its native 1366x768 resolution.
battery life and heat
If you take the Ideapad 100 with you during the day, be sure to take a charger with you. In the battery test (continuous web surfing via WLAN), Lenovo's notebook lasted an average of 4 hours and 45 minutes, lagging behind the Chromebook 2 (7:48) and the Stream 13 (6:26). The stamina of the IdeaPad 100 is also lower than that of an average budget notebook (approx. 5 hours).
Lenovo IdeaPad 100
In addition to its below-average battery life, the Ideapad 100 can get a bit too hot for comfort. After 15 minutes of streaming HD video, the bottom of the laptop hit 103.5 degrees, which is well above our 95-degree comfort threshold. Though touchpad and keyboard of the notebook each reached a tolerable 90 degrees, the IdeaPad is not ideal for hours of round use due to its warm underside.
Thankfully, the Ideapad 100 comes mostly free of the bloatware that can sometimes plague budget Windows 8.1 systems. The Lenovo Companion app serves as a central hub for checking the health of your laptop, viewing your warranty and user guides, and links to accessories and can find tips articles.
SHAREit is a handy app that lets you transfer files between your PC and your mobile device, and REACHit gives you access to your cloud-based files through a variety of services like Google Drive and Dropbox. On the security front, McAfee Central lets you use the Check your PC's security status and Lenovo's OneKey Recovery tool makes it easy for you to back up your hard drive and restore your system.
The Lenovo Ideapad 100 offers reliable Windows performance for less than $400. Its 14-inch display is colorful enough to enjoy a few shows on Netflix, and its Celeron processor has the guts to guide you through basic work tasks to lead.
Unfortunately, the laptop's 4.5 hour battery life and occasionally hot underside are reminders that this is a budget machine. If you're looking for an even cheaper Windows notebook and can sacrifice some storage, the web-friendly HP Stream 13 offers a better one Battery life and more powerful speakers for just $209. And if you can live without Windows, the excellent Toshiba Chromebook 2 offers a rich Full HD display and an alluring, slim design for just $279.
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Lenovo Ideapad 100 specifications
Intel Celeron N2940
Intel HD Graphics Gen7 4EU
hard drive speed
SATA hard drive
Connections (except USB)
HDMI, USB2.0, USB3.0
13.4 x 9.3 x 0.8 inches
3.6 x 2.2 inches
Wireless Internet access
Mike Andronico, a passionate gamer and technology enthusiast, joined the laptop team in July 2013. With a BA in Journalism from Purchase College and experience at GameNGuide, Examiner and 2D-X, Mike covers everything from iPhone rumors to in-depth hardware reviews.