Lenovo Ideapad 710S: Don’t call me MacBook Air

If you’re looking for a metal-clad ultrabook with excellent audio and performance comparable to a full-sized notebook, the Ideapad 710S might be the end of your search. With an attractive chassis that will make make MacBook Air owners do a double-take, and a competitive price ($799 as reviewed), the Ideapad 710S is one of the best of its class.

Ideapad 710S Specs (as reviewed)

  • 6th-generation Intel Core i5-6200U 2.3GHz
  • 8GB RAM
  • 13.3″ FullHD (1920×1080) anti-glare LED-backlit display
  • 128GB SSD storage
  • JBL® speakers with Dolby® audio

Additional models are available with up to a 7th-generation Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD storage. All feature the same FHD display.

Chassis Design

As I mentioned, the metallic chassis is quite well designed, weighing in at just 2.43 pounds. I particularly liked the chamfered-edged trackpad in front of the nearly full-sized keyboard. On either side of the ultrabook, you’ll find a USB 3.0 port. The left side contains the headphone/mic jack and recovery/reset button, while the right side has a micro-HDMI port alongside a 4-in-1 card reader (do people still use those?) and an indicator light. Unfortunately, the magnesium top panel was prone to scratches, so you’ll want to take extra care when you’re using it on-the-go.

My only quibble with the keyboard is the placement of the right shift key. I just couldn’t get used to it while I was using this laptop. I frequently missed the button while typing, so I would either move my right hand and steal a glance at the keyboard, or just use the left shift key.

Display

I found the 1080p display to be quite satisfying, with adequate color saturation, a glare-reducing matte finish and sufficient text clarity at the default settings. As a fan of vibrant colors, I tweaked the settings a bit to enhance the saturation. Picture and video quality was excellent — far surpassing the 1366×768 display on my own PC.

Performance

The Ideapad 710S was more than ready for casual everyday use, such as office productivity applications, Internet browsing and checking email. Even for more demanding tasks such as running Android Studio, there were only a few minor hiccups. Video playback was seamless when watching Netflix or other streaming services. Audio quality was also quite good using the onboard JBL® speakers with Dolby Atmos® software.

While Lenovo advertises eight hours of battery use on a single charge, they’re no doubt referring to extremely light use. Running office software or other business-oriented tasks should get you about five to six hours. For truly intense use, it would be generous of me to credit the ultrabook with three hours at full display brightness, twelve to fourteen Chrome tabs, with Slack, Telegram and CorelDraw running in the background, while also charging my phone. Actually, that sounds rather impressive now that I’ve finished committing my thoughts to writing.

Summary

If you’re happy with an ultrabook without a touchscreen, stylus or 360-degree flexibility, I’m sure you’ll love the Ideapad 710S. You’ll get full-laptop performance in a light package reminiscent of the MacBook Air without the outrageous price. I’m sure Apple fans will be quick to point out that the premium MacBook price also nets you premium industrial design, but that’s no longer an edge the Cupertino company enjoys — compared with Lenovo. Aside from my minor annoyance with the keyboard and scratch-prone top, the chassis as premium as what Apple offers. You’ll also get great audio quality and a clear, vibrant display.