Today Lenovo is holding their Tech World conference in Beijing, and as part of the festivities they are announcing three laptops for those on a tight budget. The Lenovo ideapad 100 is a 14 or 15-inch laptop which starts at just $249, and the Lenovo Z41 and Z51 are 14 and 15-inch models starting at $499.

We don’t have the full list of available models of these devices yet, but let’s start with the ideapad 100 first. At just $249, it certainly is going to be easy on the wallet. It is available in a 14-inch model which is 20.2 mm thick, and a 15-inch model which is 22.6 mm thick. It is powered by the Intel Pentium N3540, which is a BayTrail-M class part. This is a four core model which has a base speed of 2.16 GHz and a turbo frequency of 2.66 GHz. The specifications do say “up to” the N3540 though, so the assumption is that the base model will be something else. The display is what you would expect in a budget offering with a 1366x768 resolution, and likely a TN panel. Somewhat surprisingly you can get up to 8 GB of memory, and up to 500 GB of storage through a hard disk drive or 128 GB with a solid state drive. It seems to have all of the connectivity covered with two USB ports (one 3.0, one 2.0), HDMI out, a 4-in-1 card reader, and somewhat surprisingly an Ethernet jack. On the downsides, the battery life from the 30 Wh battery is rated at just four hours, and the weight is hefty at 4.2-5.1 lbs depending on the model.

Lenovo ideapad 100
  14-inch 15-inch
Processor Up to Pentium N3540 BayTrail-M 4 core 2.16-2.66 GHz
Display 14" 1366x768 15" 1366x768
Memory Up to 8GB DDR3L
Storage Up to 500GB HDD or 128GB SSD
Connectivity 1xUSB3.0, 1xUSB2.0, HDMI, Card Reader, RJ-45
Wireless 802.11n 2.4GHz, BT 4.0
Battery 30 Wh, Up to 4 hours
Dimensions 340 x 237.8 x 20.2mm (13.39 x 9.33 x 0.8 inches) 378 x 265 x 22.6mm (14.88 x 10.43 x 0.89 inches)
Weight 1.9kg (4.19lbs) 2.3kg (5.07lbs)
Operating System Windows 8.1 Update
Price Starting at $249

It is certainly a budget offering, but for many people this will likely fit the bill. It’s surprising they could only fit a 30 Wh battery in though on an up to 5 lb laptop, and a larger battery would make this a lot more appealing for people who need something on the go.

Lenovo ideapad 100 15

The Z41 and Z51 models ramp up the price, but offer quite a bit more potential as well. The Z41 is a 14-inch laptop, and the Z51 is the 15-inch model and both have 1080p panels, but it is not stated whether they are TN or IPS. The processing power on tap is quite a bit more than the ideapad 100 (yes it is written in all lower case in the press release) with Intel Broadwell Core i7 as the top processor available. Once again it is “up to” i7, so expect the base model to come with something less than that. The base models of both use integrated graphics from Intel, but both can be outfitted with a discrete GPU. The Z41 is available with the AMD R7-M360, and the Z51 bumps that up to the AMD R9-M375. Memory is up to 16 GB of DDR3L, and storage is up to 1 TB of HDD or SSHD. The Z models have two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, HDMI, a 4-in-1 card reader, VGA, and once again, an Ethernet jack. Wireless is 802.11ac as well. The 15-inch model will even be available with an optional Intel RealSense 3D camera system which should set it up for Windows Hello login when Windows 10 ships. The integrated 41 Wh battery is once again just rated for four hours though, so this is not going to be the best device for someone on the go. The 14-inch model is also a rather hefty 4.63 lbs, and the 15-inch comes in at 5.07 lbs. It is available in ebony black or chalk white, with the 14-inch model also available in crimson red.

Lenovo Z41/Z51
  Z41 Z51
Processor Up to 5th Gen Intel Core i7
Display 14" 1920x1080 15" 1920x1080
Memory Up to 16GB DDR3L
Storage Up to 1TB HDD or 1TB SSHD
Optional GPU (base is iGPU) AMD R7-M360 AMD R9-M375
Connectivity 2xUSB3.0, 1xUSB2.0, HDMI, Card Reader, RJ-45, VGA
Wireless 802.11ac, BT 4.0
Battery 41 Wh, Up to 4 hours
Dimensions 347 x 249 x 24.4mm (13.66 x 9.8 x 0.96 inches) 384 x 265 x 24.6mm (15.12 x 10.43 x 0.97 inches)
Weight 2.1kg (4.63 lbs) 2.3kg (5.07 lbs)
Operating System Windows 8.1 Update
Price Starting at $499

Lenovo Z41

The ideapad 100 models will be available online and in retail stores in June, and once again starts at just $249. The Z41 and Z51 are also going to be available in June, starting at $499 for both models. The Z51 with Core i5, 8 GB of memory, and the RealSense 3D camera starts at just $599.

AMD M300 Series GPU Specification Comparison
  R9 M375 R7 M360
Was Variant of R9 M270/M260 Variant of R7 M270/M260
Stream Processors 640 384
Texture Units 40 24
ROPs 16 4?
Boost Clock <=1015MHz <=1015MHz
Memory Clock 2.2GHz DDR3 2GHz DDR3
Memory Bus Width 128-bit 64-bit
VRAM <=4GB <=4GB
GPU Cape Verde Oland
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm
Architecture GCN 1.0 GCN 1.0

Depending on the prices with discrete GPUs, these could work out to be reasonable priced laptops with some gaming potential as well. We’ll have to wait and see how the pricing works out for those models though.

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  • MikeMurphy - Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - link

    More mediocre laptops. Would it kill them to include a larger battery? Even as an upgrade?
  • Zwaffelaar - Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - link

    I agree on battery life, but have you ever seen a range of budget laptops. These are one of the best I've seen thus far. I just hope for the buyers, that they have a minimum of 6 or 8 GB of RAM. The AMD models with only 4GB of RAM is just a joke in the era we live in, even for those only using the internet and email.
  • WorldWithoutMadness - Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - link

    You can look for Asus N551ZU, they send out top of the line AMD stuffs. FX7600 with M280x.
    IMHO 4GB is a lot for internet and emails. Most people even can live by with ARM and 1GB ram for doing those things.
  • Cspeeds - Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - link

    It is madness to compare Asus N551ZU with dedicated graphics to the likes of lightweight, budget, sturdy, work/education laptops that is valued at 2/4GBs.
  • mkozakewich - Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - link

    I find I don't usually use more than 4 GB, and a good SSD reduces the crappyness of page files. For a budget system, 4 GB is actually good.
  • DCide - Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - link

    Both Apple and MS have made their latest operating systems run well on 4GB. While I prefer more memory, 4GB is far from a joke.
  • Hrel - Thursday, May 28, 2015 - link

    I don't think performance is bad at all on 4GB for light users, like my grey haired father. I agree with you in principle because RAM is just so cheap, but without seeing a BOM I'm not willing to say 4GB is unacceptable as a base configuration. Where I take issue is if the upgrade to 8GB costs a disproportionate amount, like $50 or more.

    Mostly I'm just happy to see 1080p in a $500 laptop, bout damn time!

    Though it is annoying that they can't give a larger battery, at least as an upgrade, like Murphy said.
  • w_barath - Friday, June 5, 2015 - link

    Windows 8 is surprisingly light and snappy even with 2G for browsing and using Outlook. If you have an SSD anyhow. The only reason I'd suggest you need more than that, is to future-proof.
  • Adding-Color - Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - link

    Yeah, battery life isn't great, but otherwise they are decent laptops. The keyboard should be awesome (it's almost the same as in the much more expensive Lenovo Flex line, typing on one right now). You have full height arrow keys and a decent numpad (which just lacks the 4th "Enter,-,+" row). The layout is great and the keys are sturdy and provide great "force feedback", unlike some slightly cheaper Chromebooks that feel glibbery.

    The Lenovo Z41/Z51 seems to provide good value per $. Buy the one with the cheapest HDD, buy a 250/500 GB SDD, pop it in a and you have a nice laptop for 600-700$.
  • Adding-Color - Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - link

    I can't really recommend Lenovo without mentioning the "Superfish bug":
    A few months ago it was discovered that Lenovo had installed a highly vulnerable bloatware called "Superfish" on some laptops. This was a crappy "advertising tool" that changed the adds of your browser (for what it probably needed access to your SSL root certificate"). It set up a very vulnerable fake root certificate on the computer, which enabled attackers to easily execute a man-in-the-middle attack on your https connections.

    Quote from:

    "This essentially amounts to a fake root certificate, necessary for SuperFish to intercept HTTPS connections to do its image analysis, but in the process giving SuperFish access any information passed via HTTPS.
    As it turns out, the security of these certificates would seem to be using SHA-1, which is insecure and can be overcome with the right software and ordinary computing hardware. The 1024-bit RSA key has also been cracked, with the private key being bundled with the software in order to execute on-the-fly digital certificate signing
    in essence allowing anyone with network contol to execute a man-in-the-middle attack on any Lenovo system with the SuperFish root certificate installed."

    Furthermore the responses by Lenovo to this serious "bug" were very lame and sometimes "not the whole truth".

    == >
    Don't trust any software installed by Lenovo, and install a "clean" Windows image if possible.

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