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Hands-on Gear Review
Lenovo Ideapad ReviewPrice: $180 List | $167.42 at Amazon
Pros: Inexpensive, nice keyboard
Cons: Slow web browsing, poorly designed trackpad, screen can look washed out
Bottom line: Most people will find the lack of RAM to be limiting
The Lenovo Ideapad was one of the poorer performers in our testing. This was mostly due to its 2GB of RAM, which we found inevitably led to frustratingly slow web browsing, regardless of the model or manufacturer. It also had our least favorite screen, and we didn't particularly like its trackpad. Though this is one of the least expensive models we tested, we would strongly recommend spending just a little bit more and getting a model with 4GB of RAM.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Chromebooks of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Lenovo Ideapad is limited by its 2GB of RAM. This earned it the bottom score of 3 out of 10 in our performance testing, along with the other models inflicted with a RAM deficiency. This was significantly behind the 4GB models, which scored in the 8-9 range. We found it very easy to bog down the Ideapad in normal usage. Opening just five or six tabs, something most people do on a daily basis, left it coughing and sputtering. Streaming music or video alone was ok, but trying to layer any other task on top of that was near impossible and a one way ticket to lagsville and slow download station. Like all of the other 2GB models, the Ideapad is suitable for single tasks, but any multi tabular expedition is bound to end in disaster, or at least a healthy dose of frustration. We would definitely recommend ponying up a little extra cash and getting a model with 4GB of RAM. The Ideapad comes with 16GB of internal storage, and a 4-in-1 SD card slot that can read any size of SD card and expand upon that storage. The Ideapad's battery did make it all the way through our full day of work test on a single charge, even if we felt like we needed an anger management class after the experience. The Ideapad has a reported 8 hour battery life, though we found it could last a bit longer.
The Ideapad earned a 6 out of 10 in our interface testing, putting it toward the bottom of a metric that saw scores from 5 to 9. We actually really liked its keyboard. The keys had the right amount of spring and were well spaced, and we didn't mind typing out long prose with this machine. However, it lost a lot of ground due to its trackpad. It just felt sticky when we slid our fingers along it, and clicking felt somewhat awkward and required more force than we would have expected. We found many of our officemates sneakily using a wireless mouse when they drew the Ideapad in one of our all day work tests.
We didn't particularly dislike the screen of any of the models we tested, but the Ideapad's was our least favorite. It scored a 5 in our testing, which yielded scores between 5 and 9. To be fair most models scored a 6 in this metric with one admirable outlier scoring a 9, so the Ideapad wasn't too far behind the pack. At 11.6 inches and a resolution of 1366 x 768, this screen has the same stats as most of the other screens we tested. It did lose some points for its color composition, however. When watching videos or looking at photos everything looked overly bright and washed out. This was particularly noticeable when watching video that was filmed outside, thus this was the model we were least likely to use to watch a movie. This washed out quality wasn't really noticeable during normal web browsing. The Ideapad does have an HDMI port, which allows for easy connection to a larger monitor or television.
The Ideapad exited our portability testing with a score of 7 out of 10, putting it somewhat in the middle of a metric that had scores from 5 to 10. At 2.6 pounds the Ideapad is at the heavier end for models of its size, but not to a noticeable degree, and it still barely adds any weight to a backpack. The 11.6 inch size is also appreciably smaller than a traditional laptop, so most will find it quite small and packable. If you need even more portability, take a look at the ASUS Flip.
With a list price of $180 the Ideapad is one of the most inexpensive models we tested. However, just $20 more nets the ASUS C201, which has 4GB of RAM and can handle multiple tabs and taxing undertakings like music and video streaming with aplomb. By comparison the Ideapad gets bogged down by opening a handful of tabs. Consequently, we feel it is a poor value.
The Lenovo Ideapad is an inexpensive Chromebook that is hampered by only having 2GB of RAM. Anyone looking to use a Chromebook without feeling limited would be better off with a 4GB model.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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