The Lenovo Ideapad 720s is an incremental update over last year’s Ideapad 710s. Lenovo has updated everything it could with the exception of the processor.
Build and Design: Slight improvements
Like last year’s model, the new Ideapad 720s is one of the thinnest and lightest ultrabooks we have tested this year. The laptop weighs just 1.1kg (again) and Lenovo has managed to shave a few millimetres off its length, breadth and height. At the same time, the Ideapad 720s looks and feels more premium than the 710s. Gone are the plastic sides and the curvy edges. In its place, the 720s now offers an all metal exterior with tapered sides and chamfered edges. The build quality has definitely improved and we reckon it is easily among the best you can get on an ultraportable this year. In addition, you also get a fingerprint scanner this year.
Although it doesn’t match the chic looks and premium build quality of the HP Spectre X360, in the Iron grey colour it is quite the looker. The differences lie in the details. For instance, the metal edges along the base are sharp to touch and may dig into your wrists while typing. The rubber feet don’t go with the rest of the exterior either.
Display and I/O: Could have been better
With each iteration, the display is also starting to become an intimate part of the design and adds to the overall allure of the laptop. The 16:9 IPS LCD panel features 1920 x 1080 resolution and has even thinner bezels than last year. However, the display itself is not as well calibrated out of the box as it was on the 710s. When compared side-by-side, the Ideapad 720s’ display turns out to be a tad warmer. That is not a big issue unless you have a trained eye and content looks crisp and vivid. The display is quite bright, with the max luminance readings of 410 lux.
As for the I/O, you get the bare minimum you should get on a machine this size in 2017. You have two USB Type-C ports, one is for power and the other one supports Thunderbolt. Besides that you get two standard USB 3.1 Type-A ports on either side. Unlike last year, a standard SD card slot is missing from the machine. Also, while the laptop has two USB Type-C, neither support charging, so you can’t plug in the power pin into either one.
Keyboard and touchpad: Some improvements required still
The standard chiclet style keyboard by Lenovo is well liked by most and this one is no different. The company has changed almost nothing, including the pitch, key travel and feedback of the keys and the keyboard feels exactly the same as the one we used last year. on the Ideapad. This means it is a good keyboard for typing for long sessions (if you don’t mind the sharp edges that is) and should feel just as tactile even after a year. We have been using the older Ideapad 710s for the past year now and it is still just delightful to type on. However, in the past year HP has upped the game and managed to provide a better keyboard on its Spectre x360. That said, we think touch typists will prefer the feedback provided by this keyboard more.
The two step backlit keyboard is now better calibrated. It has two settings, and the first preset is ultra dim, which we liked as it comes quite handy when watching movies in a dark room without losing a track of the keys. Here is a look at the two settings.
(L-R) Preset 1, Preset 2
Below the keyboard, you get a standard large matte touchpad that tracks well and is quite precise. Like the keyboard, there seems to be no discernible change from last year in terms of functionality. However, the matte touchpad is slightly smoother to use than it was last year, but a glass touchpad would have been better. The left and right clicks require little effort and the depression is just right. Both left and right keys press down with an audible sound and provide ample feedback as well.
Performance: No change
The Lenovo Ideapad 710s was a good laptop and hence Lenovo hasn’t fiddled with that recipe. However, we are a little disappointed to see the newer machine running on a 7th gen Intel Core i7 processor instead of the latest 8th gen Intel CPU. While there are many reasons for that, the low quantities of 8th gen Intel chips available to OEMs and consumers alike is one major problem. Yes, the laptop will be updated to a newer CPU in the coming months, but for now one has to make peace with what we have.
That being said, the 7th gen Intel Core i7 processor is no slouch. It is still one of the fastest U-series (15W TDP) chips around, which can take on all kinds of office and day-to-day tasks with ease. The Intel HD 620 GPU offers decent performance and does support resolutions of up to 4K via Thunderbolt. If you want, you can even use this for some light casual gaming. The laptop can run games like Dota 2 and Counter Strike quite easily at lower settings. However, compared to last year’s model, Lenovo has turned down the GPU a bit, which now produces lesser frames per second. This makes the system more battery efficient and also helps in keeping the heat low. The other complaint we have is that in India, the laptop only comes with a 256GB SSD.
Battery life: Good enough
Then there is the large 48Whr battery on this machine. This allows Lenovo a similar battery life as it's predecessor. You can easily stream an entire season of Sherlock and still use it for office work for a few hours, on a single charge. Using it as a daily driver with multiple tabs open, music streaming in the background and some photo editing, the laptop happily lasted for an entire 9-6 day with some breaks (lid down). Overall, it is not the best battery life we have seen from a lightweight laptop, but there is little to complain.
The Lenovo Ideapad 720s then is good at everything. It has a good display, is well built, fast and has reliable battery life. Yes, there is some room for improvement, but for the price there is nothing better at the moment.
That being said, you should delay your purchase until Lenovo updates this laptop with the 8th gen Intel processor, unless you’re in a hurry. From what we know, that should happen early next year.
At the same time, if you are okay with the somewhat inferior build quality, the older Ideapad 710s is still a good buy.