Last year we had to wait for back to school time, but this year Lenovo is hitting the books early. Today, they’re announcing their refreshed IdeaPad line, their collection of lightweight, premium laptops. No surprises with the hardware upgrades, but if the kids want a laptop with a little personality this year, the new IdeaPads shouldn’t disappoint.
Lenovo is launching five laptops today — the basic 320 in 15″ and 17″, the slimmer 320S in 14″ and 15″, and the high-end 720S in 14″ (the successor to the 710S). And, they’re all looking gorgeous, with premium colors on the high-end machines and a bevy of fun metallic colors on the lower end.
The 320 laptops are a bit thicker, but that allows them to be more fully featured, too — if you want. Most non-essentials, like a touchscreen (on the 15″) and a fingerprint reader, are left off as optional purchases. The extra thickness allows the laptops to actually have a DVD drive, so if you or your kids still need one of those for whatever reason (hey, some of those textbooks still pack in discs), here are the laptops you want. Otherwise, we’re looking at the expected hardware specs — a 7th generation Intel Core i processor, up to 16 GB of RAM, up to 2 TB of HDD SATA storage, and a 720p webcam. The 30 Whr battery looks a bit small, but it won’t be taxed too much by the lower-res 1366 x 768 display (1600 x 900 on the 17″). Interestingly, it does have one USB Type-C port, but it’s just for data transfer, not charging. There’s a traditional power port, alongside an HDMI port, an ethernet port, a couple regular-sized USB ports, and a combo audio port.
While the 320 laptops are 22.9 mm and 24.9 mm thick, the 320S options are much slimmer at 19.3 mm and 19.9 mm. While that will lighten the load on those backpacks, there are some sacrifices — no DVD drive, no ethernet port, and no option for a touchscreen or a fingerprint reader. They also have less system memory, coming with just 8 GB. But, there’s some good news for the Netflix viewers — these have 1080p displays and Harman Kardon speakers with Dolby audio. Same deal as the 320 with the USB Type-C port, and there are still regular-sized USB ports and HDMI port here, too. Same hardware otherwise, plus a much bigger 54 Whr battery and an optional Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU on the 15″.
The crown jewel is the 720S. This machine brings back the fingerprint reader and comes standard with a discrete Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU. It’s also got JBL speakers, a 1080p IPS display, a super-fast USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 port (plus regular-sized USB ports and HDMI), up to 16 GB of RAM, and up to a 512 GB PCIe SSD for storage. Oh, and it just so happens to be the thinnest and lightest of the group, too, coming in at 15.9 mm thick and 3.4 pounds. It’s made of aluminum and magnesium, while the others are still plastic.
And, considering that 3.4 pounds is the lightest laptop of the bunch, these aren’t exactly the best laptops when it comes to lightening the load. Lenovo’s trying to make up for that with the prices — all of these laptops start at less than $1,000, although the price could go north of that depending on which optional features you spring for. The whole IdeaPad line ranges from $440 for the 15″ 320 up to $970 for the base 720S, with color options including black, white, purple, blue, red, grey, silver, light green, and gold. They’ll all be available sometime in June.