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Review: 2 low-cost Windows 10 laptops challenge the Chromebooks

Brian Nadel | Feb. 10, 2016
Two US$200 systems offer travelers a lightweight and low-cost way to work with Windows apps on the road.

While it matches the Stream with 2GB of RAM and a 30GB SSD, the IdeaPad makes 18.3GB of that available for use, 6GB more than the Stream. As with the Stream, much of the space is taken up by bloatware.

Its Atom Z3735F quad-core processor runs at between 1.3GHz and 1.8GHz, but at 2.2 watts, it uses a little more than half the juice of the 4-watt Celeron CPU on the Stream -- it never even got warm to the touch.

Test results

The IdeaPad rated an Octane 2.0 score of 6,548, nearly 60% higher than the Stream's result, indicating the IdeaPad would do better online. However, its more general-purpose PerformanceTest 8 score of 397.1 was 13% less than that of the Stream.

The 7,600mAh battery pack is much larger than the Stream's 4,500mAh battery, and it showed -- the IdeaPad tested at 8 hours and 5 minutes on our battery tests. Think of it as an extra hour and a half of movies, gaming or Web browsing.

The system includes Microsoft's Windows 10 Home. It comes with Lenovo's SHAREit, an app for moving files between networked computers; there are also versions for Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

The one-year warranty can be extended to a second year of mail-in service for $39.20.

Bottom line

Small, light and most useful online, the IdeaPad 100S would be a killer computer if it only had a better screen.

At a Glance

Lenovo IdeaPad 100S

Price: $200

Pros: Good online performance, lighter than the competition, small AC adapter, good battery life

Cons: Dull screen; keyboard flex

Conclusions

I am, by nature, a cheapskate who hates to pay extra for unneeded luxuries. So, I was happy to see that both HP and Lenovo have excellent inexpensive notebooks that should do just as well at home, at school or on the road.

Neither is perfect, though, and each of these $200 notebooks has both strengths and weaknesses.

While the IdeaPad 100S's screen is second-best and its keyboard is flimsy, I love that it can run for over eight hours on a charge and that, with its tiny AC adapter, the entire package adds up to less than 3 lbs.

That said, although the HP Stream is a little heavier, and I really dislike its traditional three-prong AC adapter, the Stream's screen is as bright, rich and vivid as computers selling for twice as much. That makes the Stream my choice as the best in this super-cheap class of computers.

2 low-cost Windows 10 notebooks: Performance results

HP Stream 11

Lenovo IdeaPad 100s

PassMark PerformanceTest 8.0

 

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