Lenovo IdeaPad 120S Laptop Review
This laptop may be affordable, but its performance is seriously lacking
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
When it comes to budget laptops, you may come to expect some trade offs, like a lifeless display or subpar battery life. Well, not only is the Lenovo IdeaPad 120S (available at Lenovo for $179.99) affordable, it's sophisticated too. Between the light gray exterior and thin profile, it certainly looks more expensive than it is. But while we love the price and battery life, there were a couple of drawbacks.
First, the display is a bit of a let-down. It's fine for the occasional video, but don't expect vibrant colors or deep blacks. Secondly, performance is a bit sluggish. It freezes up pretty easily, so you may want to keep an eye on how many tabs or applications you have open. Unless your budget is capped at $200, I'd probably opt for something else.
About the Lenovo IdeaPad 120S
The IdeaPad has two configurations, but the only difference between them is the color. The denim blue model, which features 2GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage, is $29 more than the mineral gray version. I'm not sure why, but there you have it. We're currently working with the sleek mineral gray model. Here's the IdeaPad at a glance:
CPU: Intel Celeron N3350
GPU: Intel HD Graphics 505
Display: 11.6-inch (1366 x 768) HD display
Memory: 2GB RAM
Storage: 64GB of eMMC storage
Ports: USB-C, USB 3.0, HDMI, microSD, headphone jack
Weight: 2.79 lbs
The price is awesome for the budget-conscious buyer, but I'm not sure about long-term stability. Is this the kind of laptop you may grow out of in a year's time? You can't really customize the IdeaPad either, so there's no bumping up the storage or memory at checkout. However, it does have one saving grace—the MicroSD card slot, which provides a little more storage space.
What We Like
The mineral gray color scheme is surprisingly chic
At just $179, the IdeaPad is perfect for those on a tight budget. But who said inexpensive laptops have to look cheap? The mineral gray color scheme is simple and chic and it works. If you look close, you'll even notice a cool speckle pattern on the chassis. Not only does it look like a premium machine, it's lightweight like one too.
Weighing a little under three pounds, this ultraportable is the perfect travel companion. Whether you're taking it into the classroom or on a plane, you'll definitely forget it's in your bag. The 180-degree hinge also lets you tilt the screen all the way back, so you can lie it flat on a table or desk. I don't recommend it, though, as it doesn't lie completely flat.
Pretty good battery life
You can expect about five hours of regular use on a single charge, which is impressive for a budget laptop. I suspect it has something to do with the low-end processor and other power-efficient internals. Five hours is a good chunk of time, for sure, and that's with screen brightness set to 100%. I'd recommend dimming the screen if you want it to last a full work day.
The price is right
You can't really beat the $179 price tag. While it's a great value for the budget-conscious buyer, you should really know what you're getting into. Simply put, this ultraportable is as basic as they come, meaning it's good for light use. Do you need a fingerprint reader or a 4K display? If you can live without the bells and whistles of a premium machine, then it's well worth the money.
What We Didn't Like
Display is disappointing
The display is fine for everday tasks, but colors aren't rich or vibrant. When I watched the trailer for I, Tonya, the figure skater's glittery costumes looked washed-out. While colors aren't very vivid, it deflects flourescent light well enough. So, if you're just working on documents or watching videos, I wouldn't say it's a deal-breaker.
Performance is a bit sluggish
Personally, I wouldn't buy this laptop to get work done. The Intel Celeron N3350 CPU can handle basic tasks like checking e-mail and surfing the web, but it struggles with everything else. Running four or more applications will bog down the machine. I prefer to operate in a sea of open tabs, so this laptop doesn't work for someone like me.
If you're willing to spend the extra cash, we'd recommend opting for the Acer Aspire E 15 as an alternative option. It's cheaper than a Chromebook and performance is stellar. The only drawback is that it's not super portable. However, between the premium-looking design and snappy performance, you're really getting the best of both worlds here.
Should You Buy It?
Maybe, but only if your budget is capped at $200
The IdeaPad is great for those with basic needs, but that's as far as it goes. Unless your budget is capped at $200, you should really know what you're getting into. Let's go over the positives first. With its minimalist look and lightweight body, it looks more like expensive than it really is. It's the kind of laptop you wouldn't mind bringing to an important meeting or a college lecture. While we love the awesome battery life and low price, we had a few issues with the trade offs.
The display is bright enough, but colors appear dull and washed-out. If you're just using it for everyday tasks, I wouldn't consider the dim display a deal-breaker. You're not going to get phenomenal performance, either, as it gets bogged down pretty easily.
We'd recommend something with at least 4GB of RAM. The Acer Aspire 1, for example, is a good alternative. The $199 laptop comes with 4GB of RAM and is Amazon's choice laptop. Shortcomings aside, we still feel the IdeaPad is worth considering, particularly if you're looking for a real barebones experience.