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Lenovo Ideapad 100S-11 review: A promising portable with storage issues

Jon L. Jacobi | March 7, 2016
As a budget laptop, the 100S-11 has a lot going for it, but it's hamstrung by its tiny amount of storage space.

Second on the list of weak points is the sound through the speakers. I won't waste adjectives on it. Just carry around some earbuds, headphones, or an external speaker if you want decent sound.

Components

The basic components of the 100S-11 are an Intel Atom Z3735F CPU, 2GB of DDR3/1333 memory, and the aforementioned 32GB Samsung BGND3R eMMC drive that tested about 25 percent quicker than a fast hard drive.

The port array consists of two USB 3.0 types, a single micro-HDMI for display output, a headset jack, and a micro-SDHC card slot. Wi-Fi is 802.11 b/g/n and there’s Bluetooth 4.0 on board.

You can augment the capacity-challenged eMMC with external USB 3.0 storage or micro-SD cards. I’ve never liked the latter solution, because something always accidentally ejects them unless the slot is internal, and the 100S-11's is not. Murphy's Law guarantees this. You want the 64GB model, really.

Performance

Though there were some short waits, I never had the urge to throw the 100S-11 out a window, as I often did when waiting for older generations of netbooks to perform simple tasks. It gets things done, though not at Core i7/SSD speeds. It can even play a high-bit-rate 1080p movie. The original netbooks choked on 720p content.

The test numbers pretty much back me up: 861 in PCMark 8's Creative Conventional test, and 1,485 in the Work Conventional. PCMark 8 is probably the best measurement tool here, as it's a test of basic office tasks like browsing, word processing, and working on spreadsheets. HP's first-generation Stream, with its similar but slightly faster Celeron N2840, spits out about 1,774 in PCMark 8 Work Conventional.

And yes, both the HP and the 100S-11 are definitely faster than the original netbooks. Running PCMark 8 Work Conventional on an old Lenovo Ideapad S12 with its Atom N270 barely pulled down 880.

Battery life was very good: The 100S-11 wrung 8 hours and 41 minutes from its 31.9 Watt hour battery where we loop a 4K Ultra HD video using Windows 10's Movies & TV app. One thing to note: Our test normally plays the video at 250 nits to 260 nits in brightness. The 100S-11 screen maxes out at 200 nits, so it's a bit difficult to compare directly with other devices we've reviewed.

A good deal that could've been

To sum the whole deal up—I was impressed. Both with the high quality of most of the product, and the thinking that led to hamstringing this notebook with such little storage. Indeed, having to knock the score down when a 64GB version would've garnered higher marks was vexing in the extreme. I can't recommend this version of the 100S-11, regardless of the tantalizing price, because products with annoying limitations or that force workarounds hit the recycling bin (or the wall) prematurely.

 

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