Lenovo Ideapad 120s review

A 14-inch laptop that costs well under $300? What's the catch? Keep reading.

Not every laptop we review is a four-figure knockout, and that's because an enormous portion of the laptop market includes budget devices. Lenovo's IdeaPad 120s is a perfect example, offering an all-around average laptop that starts at about $270. Can you put up with its flaws to save money? Our review will help you make that decision.

For light use

Lenovo IdeaPad 120s

See at Lenovo

Starts at $270

Bottom line: It's not a bad device, but you'll notice the low-resolution TN display and it struggles with multitasking.

Pros:

  • Affordable.
  • Decent port selection.
  • Keyboard and touchpad are great.
  • Storage expandable with microSD.

Cons:

  • Low-resolution TN display.
  • Small internal storage.
  • Webcam is bad.

What you'll like about the Lenovo IdeaPad 120s

The IdeaPad 120s is sporting a chassis made primarily from a PC-ABS mix, with a separate bottom panel that's made from what appears to be straight plastic. There is a small amount of flex in the body, but overall it seems pretty solid. The hinge is sturdy, and the entire chassis isn't too heavy or too thick to regularly carry around.

  • Form factor: Non-touch notebook.
  • Display: 14-inch (1,366 x 768), TN, matte finish.
  • Processor: Intel Celeron N3350 (up to 2.40GHz), dual-core.
  • RAM: 4GB DDR4-2400MHz.
  • Storage: SanDisk 64GB eMMC.
  • Battery: Two-cell 32WHr.
  • Size: 13.14 inches x 9.25 inches x 0.73 inches (334 mm x 235 mm x 18.6 mm).
  • Weight: 3.17 pounds (1.44 kg).
  • Ports: Two USB-A 3.0, USB-C, HDMI 1.4, MicroSD card reader, 3.5mm jack.

Battery life is usually something that takes a hit when prices are brought down, but not here. Helped by the 6W processor (CPU) and low-res display, you can expect to get about seven hours of regular use on a single charge. If you turn the display's brightness all the way up and set performance to high, the number will dip a bit. Still, not bad.

Lenovo's getting a reputation for quality keyboards, and thankfully that continues here. The keys have enough travel to remain comfortable when typing for long periods of time, and pressure seems to be balanced. The only problem here is a lack of backlight. The precision touchpad lets you use the full gamut of Windows 10 gestures, and has perfect sensitivity right out of the box.

Finally, this laptop has a decent selection of ports. On the right are USB-A 3.0, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm audio jack, and on the left are another USB-A 3.0, USB-C, HDMI 1.4, and a charging port. All the ports are spaced well, and the inclusion of USB-A and -C allows for connection of legacy and modern devices.

What you'll dislike about the Lenovo IdeaPad 120s

The biggest issue with the IdeaPad 120s is the low-resolution display. It's still completely usable for everyday tasks, but coming from 1080p, 1440p, and especially 4K, the difference is notable. It's also using a TN panel, which doesn't provide as wide of a viewing angle or as good color accuracy. In everyday use, the color seems washed out. The plastic bezel around the display is quite large, and the webcam set in above the screen is pretty awful, both for video and stills. The dual down-firing speakers are located in the front corners of the laptop. They aren't awful, but the sound is pretty hollow and doesn't get exceptionally loud.

While the hardware inside, including 4GB of DDR4 RAM, is good enough for your light productivity tasks — word processing, web browsing, video watching — attempting to do too much at once will overwhelm the laptop and you'll see performance drag. This is a laptop to be used for light duties only.

Storage is limited to 64GB of SanDisk eMMC. This isn't a lot, especially with modern file sizes, so you'll likely also have to pay for cloud or physical external storage. Luckily, there is a microSD slot that can be used to expand. As for transfer speeds, testing sequential speeds with CrystalDiskMark gave us 168.8 MB/s read and 110.5 MB/s write.

Bottom line on Lenovo IdeaPad 120s

After using the IdeaPad 120s every day for about a week, we can safely say that it's an OK laptop. It seems like it can stand up to some abuse yet is relatively light and thin, and the keyboard and touchpad are excellent.

If you don't mind the low resolution and you're just looking for a laptop for web browsing and word processing, you'll no doubt appreciate what this device has to offer. However, if you can't go any lower than 1080p, definitely give the similarly-priced CHUWI LapBook 14.1 a glance.

See at Lenovo