Hands on: Lenovo ideapad 710S review

Meet the latest anti-MacBook Air

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

Lenovo has crafted an anti-MacBook Air that actually stands to give it a hearty challenge, and for $100 less to boot.

For

  • Excellent price
  • AccuType keyboard
  • Slick, simple design

Against

  • Light on features
  • Battery life not quite Air-level

Ever since the debut of the MacBook Air years ago, the Windows-toting crowd has tried to beat Apple at its own game. It may have taken a while, but Lenovo's latest ideapad laptop might be the strongest answer to that notebook yet.

The ideapad 710S is a no-nonsense, 13-inch full-HD (FHD) laptop with a style and form factor that's clad in metal and comparable to the Air. But, for a starting price of $799 (about £543, AU$1,112) that's $100 lighter than its rival, this one will be tough to ignore when it lands in the US this July.

lenovo ideapad 710s

Equipped with the latest, 6th-generation Intel Core i series processors (not to mention Intel's Iris graphics with one of two Core i7 options), up to 8GB of RAM and as much as 256GB of PCIe solid-state storage, the 710S is more than ready to go toe-to-toe with the Air. And don't forget that 13.3-inch, 1080p matte screen – as you know, Apple's still sticking with 1,440 x 900.

Lenovo's currently claiming up to 8 hours of battery life from the 710S. This is nothing to scoff at, but further evidence pointing to why Apple continues to remain below FHD with the Air.

lenovo ideapad 710s

Design

Frankly, the ideapad 710S looks an awful lot like its main rival. From the metal clad (magnesium up top, aluminum on the bottom), tapered chassis to the plastic-bound bezels, this thing is definitely not coy about its goal.

Despite its similarities, the 710S has one trick up its sleeve that the Air lacks: its hinge can bend 180 degrees. Given that this is not a touchscreen-equipped notebook, it's not an incredibly noteworthy feature, but a welcome one nevertheless.

lenovo ideapad 710s

The laptop features the usual and much-welcomed AccuType keyboard from the firm, as well as chrome accents on the lid and wrapping its glass touchpad. Natch, typing on the keyboard feels lovely – the keys are well spaced and punchy, and even the power button is a key. (Where did that idea come from?)

In terms of connectivity, the 710S serves up two USB 3.0 ports, a 4-in-1 card reader, micro HDMI-out and an audio jack. All of this comes in a chassis that's thinner (0.5 inches) and lighter (2.6 pounds) than the current, 13-inch MacBook Air.

lenovo ideapad 710s

Early verdict

From the outside looking in, the idea (sorry) behind the ideapad 710S is a simple one: outdo the MacBook Air in every way possible save for battery life. And, from first glance and touch, Lenovo seems well on its way to accomplishing just that.

Sure, there's nothing hugely special about the 710S. But that it can arguably enter the ring with the market's leading laptop with stronger, lighter and thinner hardware – for 100 clams less to boot – is special in its own right. Watch out for this one when Lenovo drops it this summer.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.