Our default visualizations and opinions when we think of affordable Windows 10 laptops usually aren’t very positive. Sluggish, slow, basic, uninspiring design, boring slabs of plastic and cluttered are some elements that make up the otherwise not very heartening thoughts about laptops in general. And you would be right too. Laptops that cost Rs 40,000 or lesser in the past have usually been very basic when it came down to the user experience. That is changing and changing for the better. Quite rapidly. The latest to add to that positive movement is Lenovo. The new Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i is taking the affordable laptop, making subtle changes and returning with what can safely be described as a slick affordable laptop. But with a caveat.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i is priced around the Rs 40,000 mark, depending on which variant you pick. We are reviewing the 14-inch screen size option here, but you also have the option of the larger 15.6-inch screen sizes with the Intel and AMD processor choices. The basic specs of our test unit of the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 include an Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. It is the latter spec which we must pay specific heed to, because that’s the biggest performance boost in the entire chain. In a way, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3 laptops go up against HP’s recently launched HP Laptop 14s series, which also has an Intel Core i3 variant with 4GB RAM and a 1TB hard drive for around Rs 45,499. Do remember though, that has the 4G SIM slot as well for mobile internet when the home broadband isn’t working well enough.
Design: It Doesn’t Betray The Price Tag
As far as the design goes, you would probably look at the name IdeaPad Slim 3i and imagine this to be a very slim laptop with a very premium design. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong to follow that line of belief, but the thing is, that isn’t it in totality. It isn’t as slim as the naming would suggest it is, but that isn’t to say the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i is going back to the days of bulky laptops. The way it has been sculpted and how the lines intersect, the laptop feels slimmer towards the near end than it is towards the display hinge. It tips the scales at 1.6kg but in essence, feels light and well balanced when you pick this up and move it around. The lid and the keyboard deck get a brushed metal look while the frame around the display is matte black. The thing is, all things considered, it looks better than what its price tag would suggest. Which is why, if no one told you that the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i is priced around Rs 40,000 you wouldn’t realize it just by looking at it. No shortage on the ports front either. You get three USB ports and an HDMI out, a 3.5mm audio jack and an SD card reader.
Privacy: Webcam Shutter For All You Folks
For those who are a bit worried about the privacy bit, the laptop has a physical shutter for the webcam. You simply slide it into place and that’s your webcam physically blocked off. No more worrying with software settings and the anxiety about whether apps can still spy on you or not. In fact, a physical camera shutter is now becoming a common feature in a lot of laptops, perhaps as a direct result of the work from home culture that has made video calling and video meeting apps relevant and an integral part of most workflows.
Performance: The Storage Upgrade Makes All The Difference
This runs the Intel Core i3-1005G1 processor with 8GB RAM. That combination in itself will allow for some amount of multi-tasking headroom as you shuffle between multiple web browser tabs, documents, spreadsheets and perhaps even music streaming. Yet, what really makes the difference is the fact that this doesn’t have a potential performance bottleneck when it comes down to storage. An SSD is significantly faster at data access and read as well as write speeds, which quicks up the overall performance of any and every app that you use.
With the 256GB SSD to go with it, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i gets that advantage of faster access to software, which makes everything better as you use it. In comparison, the HP Laptop 14s would feel a tad sluggish when pushed to the same limits because it comes with a 1TB hard drive instead, which is slower. That being said, this is an Intel Core i3 processor at play and that would have some limitations with multitasking at some point, such as leaving too many Google Chrome tabs open.
In terms of battery life, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i does well. Also, because it doesn’t have a very powerful processor draining it and the display is also a Full HD resolution and not something that is trying to experiment with higher resolutions. You’ll probably get anywhere between 6 hours to 10 hours of battery life depending on how you manage the screen brightness and whether you close the apps that aren’t in use.
Webcam: You Really Don’t Want To Be Seen Peering Through This
At a time when video meetings and video calls are part of the daily routine for most work from home scenarios, online classes are what most schools are doing and even gyms have virtual sessions, Lenovo has missed a trick with a rather puny 0.3-megapixel camera in the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i. It really is testing the limits of being basic as far as the performance goes. Will work fairly acceptably as long as you have good light falling on your face at all times, but anything less, and you’ll be fuzzy at best for your video meeting companions. Everything else around you will look blurred for the most part.
Display: It’s a Full HD Display, But a Chin So Thick It Could Grow A Beard
The 14-inch Full HD display is at par with expectations. It can be quite bright when you push the brightness levels along, it isn’t reflective which is great news for most users and colours look acceptably rich on this. What you will keep noticing however is the rather large bezel beneath the screen. In fact, it is just a tad too thick in these times when slimming down bezels around the screen, be it in phones or tablets or laptops, is what every manufacturer is aiming for.
Keyboard: You’ll Be Churning Out Words In No Time
The keyboard is the typical layout that we see on Lenovo laptops, right down to the key spacing, design and size. It is good to type on, and you’ll get used to the layout very quickly. This keyboard offers a little more travel than what I usually prefer, but it isn’t going to be a challenge for most users. The large touchpad also is a bonus, and that brings along enough real estate for your swipe gestures.
The Last Word: Mostly Spot On, But Now You Know What The Caveat Is
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i is an affordable Windows 10 laptop that most certainly improves the performance stakes with an SSD in the mix. At the same time, the build as well as design are very nicely ticked off too, while the reliable battery life does help you plan your work better. But if you have to do a lot of video calls and video meetings, the rather limiting 0.3-megapixel webcam really cannot get the job done. Remember, the HP Laptop 14s also offers the built-in SIM slot for 3G/4G connectivity as an added flexibility.