About the author: Joe reviews hardware based on how it fits into his life. Joe is a sales professional that manages a team, university professor and gamer. He travels weekly and is a father and husband who also has the privilege of being GWW’s President.
You probably haven’t heard of the Lenovo 100s. It’s small, inexpensive and likely a very thin-margin device for Lenovo - implying they aren’t going to heavily market the laptop. It fills a unique niche as a 10″ laptop with a dedicated keyboard. But don’t count this little baby out. It’s thin, stylish and well built. The 100s does have a few omissions that I can only attribute to the aforementioned thin margins. Of course, I’m speculating on that.
I like to travel very lightly. I base my entire packing routine around a simple concept: take only what you need. In my line of work, notes are very important. Sales professionals hold several conversations with people they had previously never met or do not know very well. It’s challenging to recall everything later in time. That’s where small laptops can help. The ability to take notes quickly and easily, without looking like you’re just playing on your phone, is critical to your success in sales. On a recent day trip, I brought along the 100s without it’s power cord. I made it through the day with moderate usage and returned home at 61%. That’s crazy! And therein lies the value behind the 100s.
Under the hood is an Intel Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 32GB SSD. There is an expandable memory slot if you wish to add movies, music, etc. I haven’t tested any movies (if only Amazon Prime had a Windows 10 app), but I imagine I wouldn’t like the experience on this screen. Since the battery life is so incredibly good, you could leave your tablet at home and travel with only this laptop for the day. Above the hood is a refined exterior mostly made of hard plastics. For $199 MSRP, don’t expect a MacBook. In addition to the expandable memory slot (MicroSD) you also get a full HDMI port, 2 USB 2.0 ports and a single headphone/mic jack.
Students, children, and traveling professionals can all benefit from a Windows 10 laptop with great endurance. The trouble with the 100s is speed and overall efficiency. Some things are slow that you wouldn’t expect from a laptop made in 2015, such as web browsing, opening Microsoft Word, and running apps for Windows 10, such as Twitter. I’m not trying to game (I didn’t bother installing Steam to test in-home streaming) or edit audio or video. For me, this is strictly a note-taking device, and it does it well. The keyboard is comfortable and better than anything I’ve found as an accessory to a tablet, including the Surface keyboard. But, it isn’t perfect.
There are 2 things I want to change about the 100s and I’d certainly pay up to $50 more to have them. In both cases, it’s the keyboard. The touchpad does not support any form of multi-touch, even scrolling. This hasn’t affected me too much other than being so far from standard that it throws me off when I use the 100s. The other thing I would change is adding backlight to the keyboard. For evening work in a hotel, it’s an absolute must-have. I fall asleep often while working - it’s almost a comfort I’ve created to distract me from being away from my family.
Aside from those minor quibbles, the 100s is a glorious 11.6″ portable that hearkens back to the pre-tablet era with the quality and refinement that Lenovo brings to it’s broad family of devices. Also, this is the first Lenovo I’ve seen with only two bloatware applications, and I’ve decided to keep them. Impressive. As if that wasn’t enough value, the 100s includes 1 year of Microsoft Office 365. Most impressive!