14-inch laptops are some of the most popular laptops on the market. For most consumers, a 14-inch laptop hits the sweet spot between portability, screen size and power. The Lenovo Ideapad 720S VRZone received for review feels very much like a traditional laptop, with an Intel Core i7 and discrete graphics chip in the form of a NVidia GTX940M. It comes in a very small and light form factor, with barely any bezels around the 14-inch screen, very much like the Dell XPS 13. The version we are reviewing comes with 16GB RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD.
The 720S comes with a 14-inch screen and very thin bezels, and its chassis is closer to the size of a 13.3-inch ultrabook than a traditional 14-inch laptop. The screen articulates up to 180 degrees, which is useful if want to write on the screen with a stylus, though oddly it does not come with touch or pen input support.
The touchpad on the 720S feels great, very smooth and sensitive with good palm rejection. It has a tactile feel when clicking, and left and right click are clearly defined with a line in the middle of the touchpad. I had no issues using multi-touch gestures on the touchpad, and the overall experience was a pleasant one.
However, it was not quite the same for the keyboard. To accommodate the smaller form factor, Lenovo built a smaller and more compact keyboard. This made the keyboard feel a little cramped at times, and it took me a few days to get used to the smaller-than-usual spacing between the keys. The thinness of this laptop also meant that key-travel was rather shallow, though there was still some decent feedback when the keys were pressed. One big issue I had with the keyboard was the placement of the power button, which is at the top right corner of the keyboard where the “Delete” button usually is. I found myself accidentally hitting the power button and sending the laptop to sleep when what I had intended was to press the “Delete” key. However, I believe that all these were trade-offs that had to be made for Lenovo to achieve this smaller form factor, and are not too significant once you get used to them.
Despite the thin bezels, Lenovo managed to place the webcam at the top of the screen like any normal laptop would, which is a huge plus. This is unlike the Dell XPS 13, which placed the webcam below the screen, resulting in awkward and unflattering angles in video calls. Lenovo also built in a fingerprint sensor which is compatible with Windows Hello, which let me log into the laptop quickly without needing to type my password.
The IPS Screen on the 720S has fantastic viewing angles and very beautiful colours. I found the colours on the screen very saturated and full of contrast, and pictures look very pleasant on the screen in general. One small gripe is that the screen is glossy, which means it can be quite reflective, especially in bright environments. Fortunately, the screen is able to go really bright, and increasing brightness often solves the issue of reflections.
The 720S comes with side-firing JBL speakers, and they sound pretty decent while playing music, though there was a lack of bass. It was quite decent for watching movies, though, and it can go really loud at maximum volume. Overall, it was pretty good for a laptop this size, and was better than what I had expected.
There was no shortage of ports on this laptop. Lenovo managed to squeeze 2 full-sized USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C port, a full-sized HDMI port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a full-sized SD card slot. As an avid photographer, I found the inclusion of a SD card slot extremely useful and a standout feature, with many laptops nowadays choosing to include a microSD card slot instead.
Lenovo does not include any adapters in the retail set, though a RJ45-to-USB C or VGA-to-HDMI would have been useful additions.
Our review unit was equipped with an Intel Core i7-7500U, along with a NVidia GTX 940M. Both of these are more than enough for average day to day tasks, handling browsing and word processing with ease. However, one would also note that the 7500U and 940M are last generation technology, and while they still offer very good performance and efficiency, they have been eclipsed by the new generation Intel Core i7-8550U and NVidia MX150. In particular, the 8550U, with four physical cores instead of the 7500U’s two physical cores, has been featured in benchmarks showing up to twice the performance.
This does not mean that the Ideapad 720S is a slow laptop. Outside of benchmarks and intense usage, you would be hard pressed to find any difference between the newer CPU and the one in the Ideapad 720S. It never slowed down and performed very well in my day to day usage, taking on browsing, watching videos, and Photoshop usage without hiccups, even when doing all of those at once! Though not a gaming laptop, the 720S should be able to handle most modern titles at lower graphic settings at playable frame rates. I was able to get very smooth performance in Civilization VI (my favourite game!) at medium settings, though the laptop fans were spinning at maximum RPM and was getting pretty noisy.
One of my favourite features of the Ideapad 720S has got to be battery life. With just light browsing and word processing, I was able to get through an entire day without having to plug the laptop in, with the laptop lasting close to 7 hours.
The Lenovo Idapad 720S looks like a promising laptop not just on the spec sheet, but does indeed deliver a really good experience in real life use. Apart from some issues with the keyboard, I found the laptop to be a very good laptop for work and school use, delivering very good battery life and performance in a thin and light form factor. If you are able to look past the last generation specs of the laptop, this is definitely a laptop worth going for, especially if you are looking for a laptop for multimedia or productivity use.
The Ideapad 720S retails at SGD1999 for a configuration similar to our review unit, with an Intel Core i7-7500U, 16GB RAM, and 512GB SSD. There is also a version with an Intel Core i5-7200U, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD that retails for SGD1699.
-Thin and light
-Very good performance
-Long battery life
-Keyboard feels cramped, barely any key travel
-Awkward placement of power button
-Last gen processor and graphics