If you’re in the market for a new school or work laptop, the number of choices can be daunting. Sometimes you don’t need anything fancy, all you might need is a reasonably powerful Windows machine that gets straight to business without any extra details like touch screens or all in one designs getting in the way. That’s exactly what the Lenovo Ideapad 510S is about: productivity without interference.
Lenovo Ideapad 510S Specs
The Lenovo Ideapad 510S comes in a variety of options; the variant I have packs an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. Other versions can be configured with lower processors, RAM or storage. All of that fits in a sleek aluminum body with a 14” screen. As for ports, you’ll find a pretty standard set of them: two USB, Ethernet, 3.5mm audio, SD card slot, power plug, and a Kensington lock. The body itself is super thin, thin enough that a clever design was required to house the Ethernet port.
When it comes down to the daily performance of this machine, I was impressed. I loaded up my favorite programs, like Chrome, Slack, Hangouts, Todoist, and started working. Right from the quick boot up, I noticed that this machine hammered through the tasks that I threw at it. However, there was the occasional time when the laptop would completely freeze, requiring a reboot. Otherwise, I was more than happy with the results I saw from this. I don’t think it’d be the best for heavy apps like Photoshop or Premiere, but daily office tasks like Chrome and Excel it will have sleep with excellence.
The hardware on the Ideapad 510S is excellent. Everything is well put together, and it feels solid while you are using it. However, there are a few things that have me wondering. The biggest hardware is the uneven bezels. The side bezels are the same thickness (thankfully), but the top is slightly bigger than the sides, and the bottom bezel is HUGE. I’d be alright with at least the top and bottom matching, but no, they are different. Over time, though, I have grown to ignore it.
Another part that is… interesting is the Ethernet port. Because of the laptop’s slim/curved design, Lenovo had to have a little part that folds out so that you can actually use a Ethernet cable with the laptop. It works — but it’s still a little funky. I’m assuming it was included because this laptop is more work focused, but it’s odd nonetheless.
The display itself folds down flat with the table — but not any farther. It sometimes comes in handy, and it’s nice to have, but sometimes it seems unnecessary. As for the hinge, it is definitely better than what I’ve seen on other laptops. Generally, where you move it to, it will stay right there and not bounce back a little like cheaper laptops do. It does take two hands to open it, however.
The Lenovo Ideapad 510S is running Windows 10 right out of the box. Overall, I found my experience to be pretty smooth with it. Lenovo added a few custom settings through their pre-installed app that allow you to tweak items like night mode for the display, keyboard backlighting, trackpad adjustments, and more. It’s a well made app that allows for some nifty hardware tweaks. Other than that, it’s just Windows, and if you’re familiar with it, then you know what you’re getting.
If one area of this laptop is subpar, it would be with the battery. While it works great while I’m using it around the house, you won’t be able to get a solid day of work in on a single charge. On average, I’m only getting 4-5 hours of use out of this. You’ll be able to extend this by lowering the screen brightness or turning off keyboard backlighting, but even then the difference will be small.
The built in display on the Ideapad 510S is pretty great. With a resolution of 1080p, it’s plenty sharp for daily tasks. Videos look great, and you won’t be running into issues when using an external display. As for brightness, it’s pretty decent. I used the laptop inside, and found it was plenty bright even in my office, which is filled with windows. There are dedicated buttons on the keyboard for adjusting the brightness, which is another nice bonus.
The keyboard is an essential element of any laptop. On the Ideapad 510S, it’s pretty good. The aluminum body stays firm whenever you type, so there is no depression of the body to be found. The keys themselves are a nice size, and they’re slightly rounded at the bottom which gives the keyboard a more open feel, while still giving my large hands plenty of space to type. However, there is one extremely bad design design, and that is the right shift key. Normally, the width of the right shift key is equal to two or three normal keys, but no, here it is pushed to the right of the up arrow key and the width of one normal key. For typing fanatics, this would be a major issue. Thankfully, I’m able to overcome this as I don’t use the right shift key all that often.
On the top of the keyboard is the function row, and all the functions keys have been reassigned other supposedly useful functions. However, it’s debatable if they really are useful. There’s dedicated buttons for toggling the webcam, microphone and trackpad — but no forward, backward, play/pause buttons. As someone who listens to music all day while I work, this is quite annoying. Otherwise, everything else about the keyboard is great. The addition of backlit keys completes the tactile typing experience in a great way. You can adjust the the keyboard backlighting by holding down the Fn button and pressing the spacebar — choosing between off, low, and high. There’s even a fair amount of travel in the keys, along with a solid clicky feel to them.
It seems that many Windows laptops have subpar trackpads, and this laptop is no exception. While it is a decent size and feels nice to the touch, the clicking is its biggest weakness. You have to precisely hit either the bottom left or right of the touchpad in order for it to register. So if you plan on using this laptop for any extended period of time, then get an external mouse.
The speakers on the Ideapad 510S are actually quite decent. I’ve used them while watching videos and listening to music, and they’re quite good. While I prefer to use a good set of desktop speakers, they will work great if you’re on the go. They also get pretty loud while still managing to sound good. This is probably due to the built in harmon/kardon audio system, but in either case they are great built-in speakers.
The built-in webcam is about what I would expect from this laptop. It’s nothing fancy, but it will certainly work for calls. The quality is not that crispy, but for a built-in camera, it’s definitely better than some other webcams I’ve seen.
To close out this review, I’ll say that if I were to get a Windows laptop, I would get this one or one quite similar. In other words, it’s a laptop made for people like me. There’s no frills to it, just pure productivity. It’s pretty solid when it comes to running the apps I use on a daily basis, and with a 14” screen it makes a great mobile workstation. Sadly, the battery is the one area where this laptop suffers, so if that is a key aspect for you, then I’d look elsewhere. But if you can look past the battery and trackpad, then I’d highly recommend this laptop if you’re searching for a productivity-based laptop that’ll power through all your tasks. Models of the 510S start at $650, up to $930. Links to purchase the Lenovo Ideapad 510S are below!Lenovo 510S from AmazonLenovo 510S from Lenovo