Even though the specifications have been modernized to meet today's computing needs, the IdeaPad 100S stays true to the netbook formula: a low cost, portable laptop with long battery life and no frills. To get the price low, you'll have to compromise on a few features found on more expensive laptops and netbooks, including a touchscreen, gesture-enabled touchpad, a screen with wider viewing angles and faster processor and graphics.
The IdeaPad 100S comes in an attractive design that's slim and light for travel. Most people will be able to get away with shoving the IdeaPad 100S into a bag without a bulky, padded laptop sleeve given the device's solid build quality and low price tag. For road warriors, the system's long battery life lets you be productive without having to be tethered to a power outlet.
Even though the IdeaPad 100S is a compact notebook, the keyboard is still pleasurable to use. I wish the keyboard came with backlighting to make it easier to travel in dim environments, but the keys are responsive with a fair amount of travel.
Although the benefit of the IdeaPad 100S is that it runs Windows 10 at a $200 price point, I found myself neglecting to use some of the more unique features of the operating system simply because accessing those functions was too much of a hassle. With a touchscreen, I can simply tap on the Cortana search bar to call up Cortana or swipe in from the right to access the Action Center. Similarly, with a gesture-enabled touchpad, I could use a three-finger tap to summon the digital assistant or a four-finger tap to access my notifications. Instead, I was left having to navigate Windows solely with my mouse cursor.
Even if Lenovo couldn't afford to pack in these features on a budget laptop, the IdeaPad 100S would be much more useful in my workflow if it supported two-finger scrolling considering the limited screen real estate of an 11.6-inch system.
The IdeaPad 100S is an excellent, albeit basic, netbook at its price, but you have to make too many compromises with the system. Even though you can install and run Photoshop, the device's limited storage makes this a non-starter, unlike the Surface 3, which comes with a similar processor and integrated graphics. The lack of touchscreen and a touchpad that doesn't support gestures are also sore points for an otherwise capable entry-level notebook.
Unless you find yourself living primarily in the browser and storing most of your content on the cloud, investing a little bit more will give a little bit more value. Atom processors are also used on convertible and detachable notebooks, giving you the flexibility of a laptop and tablet form factors in a single device while also adding a touchscreen for a better experience.
At $200, however, the IdeaPad 100S is still a great secondary device and an excellent travel companion. It's durable enough to travel naked inside a bag without the protection of a padded sleeve and affordable enough to replace if you lose or damage it.