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Ideapad 520S review: Lenovo’s ultrabook without an ‘ultra price tag’

Ideapad 520S review: Lenovo’s ultrabook without an ‘ultra price tag’

Its biggest highlights are its lightweight form factor and an eager performance.

The term ‘ultrabook’ was created for a category of laptops that are meant to be extremely light, or highly portable, to carry around without sacrificing on its performance. Apple’s MacBook Air defines this category with its extremely slim design and a reasonable performance, highly suitable for everyday computing. Certainly, the Microsoft Windows universe has been churning out impressive answers to the MacBook Air, but none of them, including Apple, have kept in mind the affordability factor for the common man.

Lenovo’s seems to have addressed this price issue with the Ideapad 520S. The laptop will cost you Rs 57,114, which, no doubt, is a substantial amount for a conventional laptop buyer, but a great bargain for those seeking a MacBook Air-like computer with Windows on it.

For the money you spend on this Ideapad, you get the 7th-generation Intel Core i5-7200U processor clocked at 2.5GHz, a 14-inch display, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and 1TB of HDD storage. However, the spec sheet won’t decide the user experience alone as any laptop has to prove itself in the real world scenario.

In the present, Lenovo has earned a name for itself for building desirable laptops with beautiful metal frames and radical form factors. The Ideapad 520S seems to prefer practicality over everything else with its neat aesthetics. This may not be the slimmest laptop on the market, but it sure attracts attention when placed on the desk. The design hides the bulk in a very clever way, with sharp lines going across the sides while the lid has subtle curves that make it an overall pleasant design.

Built with a metal chassis, it weighs around 1.7 kg making it pretty light to carry around. Despite a lower weight and a smaller form factor, you are not left looking for adapters or dongles for connecting everyday accessories such as pen drives and alike. The Ideapad 520S gives you two USB ports (1 x USB 2.0 and 1 x USB 3.0), one USB Type-C 3.0 port, an HDMI port, a microSD card reader and a 3.5mm audio jack.

However, there’s no Ethernet port here — a strange elimination of the most important connectivity port, forcing you to opt for a Wi-Fi network or pushing you to opt for a USB-to-Ethernet dongle for a physical network option. If you still use CDs and DVDs, you would find it amusing that though Lenovo has eliminated the optical drive to reduce the form factor, they still pack in an external USB portable DVD writer in the box.

The Ideapad 520S has a good keyboard with sufficient key travel and adequate key spacing. The keys are larger, which makes for a comfortable typing experience. Impressively, a fingerprint sensor for unlocking your laptop has made its presence on the Ideapad, which is responsive and combined with Windows Hello, to unlock your laptop within seconds. and of course, a 14-inch form factor means no numeric keys on your right — but that seems to be a norm.

Lenovo sells the Ideapad 520S in India with a 14-inch HD LCD display, sporting a resolution of 1366×768 pixels. To state it in a very polite manner, the display is unacceptable in a laptop of this category. Despite maintaining good brightness levels, the LCD panel renders washed out colours and viewing angles aren’t as great either. We suggest you opt for the LED-backlit panel with full HD LCD variant for an optimum viewing experience. Lastly, the slim bezels earn a thumbs up for making the laptop look suited for the corporate world.

As listed earlier, the Ideapad 520S houses a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor clocked at 2.5GHz. This is coupled with 8GB of DDR4 RAM and Intel HD Graphics 620. The laptop performs satisfactorily in tasks that it is intended to perform — office documentation, Internet surfing, entertainment and so on. We didn’t encounter any lag or stutter while using for extended durations. We also experienced quick bootup, which is great for a laptop aimed at productivity. Our Ideapad 520S review unit was running Windows 10 with the March Creators Update.

The Ideapad 520S uses a 2-cell Li-Polymer battery that claims up to 12 hours of life. However, we managed to extract up to eight hours under a usual office usage environment. So no complaints here.

The Ideapad 520S is definitely recommended for those seeking an ultrabook with the price tag a multimedia-focused laptop. Its highlights are its lightweight form factor and an eager performance. However, Lenovo could have used a better display panel for the standard model as it turns out relatively expensive for the Indian market, despite being affordable in the ultrabook segment. Nonetheless, if you need to carry your work around, then the Ideapad 520S should be considered.