At a time when laptops were portable computers sitting on your lap, bulky and chunky, Apple launched a laptop which was extremely slim and sleek. This laptop design proved to be disruptive enough to set the ball rolling in the design department of many laptop manufacturers across the market.
So, ever since the debut of MacBook Air years ago, the Windows-based laptop crowd has tried to beat Apple at its own game. The taking down might have taken up some time, but Lenovo’s Ideapad could now be the best answer to that sleek sheet of silver.
The latest entrant from Lenovo’s stable, the Ideapad 710S is the new kid on the block. The first impression we had of this laptop was “gold, very gold.” With its sleek lines and tapered edges and the thin bezels, the ideapad gives off a very classy look.
We had the impression that the 710S was plastic when we first saw it, but we were wrong. The top is magnesium alloy and the bottom panel is aluminium, which Lenovo intended to keep for maintaining a weight balance. At just over a kilo (1.17kg to be precise) the Lenovo Ideapad is close behind the Dell XPS 13 and the Acer Aspire S 13. The lid opens up to a full 180-degree, but shows a bit of play; and unlike other thinner laptops, the display does not get easily depressed. In short, the display is sturdy.
The Ideapad 710S has net recessed edges that gives the laptop an overall expensive look. However, the overall chic aesthetics, slim profile and the light weight comes in at a hefty price tag of Rs 82,700. It is substantially thinner than a traditional Ultrabook (14mm), and smaller than its rivals by over 13mm — reason being an exceptionally compact 5mm bezel. This gives the lid a near borderless look from the sides. A 720p webcam faces you along with two multi-directional microphones, and an ambient light sensor.
Another important aspect of the Ideapad 710S’ design are its I/O ports. One the left you will find the AC power jack, a USB 3.0 port, an audio combo jack, and a reset button. The right features the power LED, a full-size SD card reader, an always on USB 3.0, and a micro HDMI port. A kensington lock port was seen missing here.
The next aspect of the Ideapad is the display. The 13.3-inch LED display on the laptop is bliss with an anti-glare coating. The brightness levels are pretty high and usability in broad daylight is not affected. The display also has a vibrant color reproduction. Lenovo has not mentioned the exact color gamut coverage, but we are convinced this will be in the higher range. Contrast is stark and deep too.
Moving on, Lenovo has provided JBL stereo speakers with the 710S built into the premium chassis on either side of the bottom panel. We did not expect much but we were pretty surprised with the audio quality, considering such a thin frame. The audio is distortion-free, with the decent hint of bass.
What’s a laptop without a good keyboard? Here, it seems Lenovo has taken good care of typing comfort. The Ideapad 710S uses a recessed Chiclet backlit keyboard, with two brightness levels for convenient typing during the night.
The layout is standard, and the power button is incorporated within the keyboard itself — the extreme right top corner. The keys look and feel pretty solid. There is no flimsiness as we type away, with a very reasonable degree of travel. Using the laptop is pretty fun and comfortable, and long durations on office work will ensure you dont tire.
The touchpad is placed at the centre of the armrest, which also has the click embedded underneath. Its smooth matte-finished surface ensures a smooth finger tracking, and the tactility of the keys are pretty pleasant and soft.
Let's get below the hood. The Ideapad 710S built around the Intel Skylake 7th generation Core-i5 processor with 8GB of LPDDR3-1866MHz system RAM and 256GB of PCIe solid-state storage (SSD). With a good muscle under a sleek body, the 710S can probably compete head on with the Apple Macbook Air.
The Core-i5 has two cores running at 2.3GHz and features Turbo Boost dynamic frequency of up to 2.8GHz. Though powerful enough for most computing tasks, It wont be able to take on high-end gaming or graphics-intensive applications. The reason is a missing discrete graphics card. The onboard graphics is the Intel HD 620 accelerator is good enough for entertainment, basic media editing, internet surfing, office documentation, and casual-to-mid-level gaming.
The storage is a good 256GB of Solid State Drive, which means high data transfer speeds and speedy computing.
Bundled with pre-installed Microsoft Windows 10, the Ideapad is cleanand there were no signs of unwanted bloatware that could pull down its horses. McAfee LiveSafe trial also comes in pre-installed, but can be uninstalled since Microsoft's own Defender will ensure your data security.
Upgrading the Ideapad is impossible. Since the RAM, and processor is directly soldered to the mainboard, upgrading the processing chip and RAM will forever be a dream. However, the storage drive though, upgradeable, is not user-replaceable.
The Ideapad 710S features two internal cooling fans — Thanks to Lenovo for installing active cooling that ensures the stability of the little beast.
The notebook gave us a good 6+ hours of usage, which included movies, music, casual gaming, and internet browsing. Considering this performance, we think it is possible to cross the 8-hour mark if we run the notebook on battery saver mode.
To conclude, the Lenovo Ideapad 710S is a great bargain if you are not an Apple fan, but are in need of an ultra-portable workhorse. With a price tag of Rs 82,790, the 710S could be placed at the top of your list, unless budget is your main constraint. The Ideapad is aimed for the constant traveller who is looking for light luggage, without compromising on computing performance.