New small business owners, especially those starting a business at home, will often underestimate the need for a solid, reliable, and portable work notebook. After all, is there really a need to shell out a thousand bucks for a laptop that you’ll just be using for spreadsheets and emails?
But for veteran SME owners, the value of a good notebook cannot be underestimated: you need a laptop that can hold up against the rigors of running a business and investing in advanced equipment can enhance business productivity. Yes, this includes being able to run spreadsheets and emails, but also teleconferencing, HR apps, Accounting programs, and many more. In fact, some people might even use their laptops as a POS system.
But while some business owners might be able to afford an expensive work laptop, what about those running a tight budget? Enter the Lenovo IdeaPad 300s. Priced at just under $500, the Lenovo IdeaPad offers a ton of premium features for a reasonable price. Of course, it does have its drawbacks –it’s not a perfect laptop, after all –but we feel like it’s able to address plenty of issues small business owners have about a work laptop.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 300s for Small Business Owners: Design and Display
Right off the bat, the IdeaPad 300s looks professional: it comes in black, silver, and a flashy red. Whichever color you choose, though, will look neat whether it’s at your home or your office. It all comes down to personal choice, but for small business owners, we suggest getting either the silver or the red: the silver is a little more professional, but the red is casual and striking.
The chassis is made from sturdy plastic, giving it a solid and well-built feel. The notebook’s lid is constructed well, with no give when being opened or closed. The keyboard deck is also noteworthy for having little-to-no flex when typing, a rarity in laptops in this price range.
Speaking of laptops in this price range, the Lenovo IdeaPad 300s also has a leg-up over the competition in terms of weight, or in this case, lack thereof: at 3.6lbs, it’s noticeably and pleasantly lighter than other laptops of its caliber like the Toshiba Radius or the Aspire R 14. If you’re planning to lug this laptop between your home and office, it’s going to fit in most backpacks without taking up too much space. Basically, it’s the perfect mobile device for business communications.
With a 14” display, the IdeaPad 300s gives small business owners ample screen size for a reasonable price. The screen has a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels, which means even those tiny texts inside spreadsheet cells are easily readable. The great resolution and the screen size also means that images are displayed clearly, so no more squinting when you’re looking at scans of old receipts.
That being said, the display does lack accurate color rendering: this might not be a huge problem for most small businesses, but if you’re using this laptop as a tool for your digital marketing purposes, it might not be the best option.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 300s for Small Business Owners: Performance
Under the hood, the Lenovo IdeaPad 300s packs a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U processor with 8GB of RAM. What this means is that it can run a wider number of programs simultaneously. It’s also faster than other laptops in its price range, which means you’re getting more than what you’re paying for.
In real-life tests, we ran an HD video in the background while opening a multi-book spreadsheet and running a browser with multiple tabs. There was no lag switching between the apps, although at some point, after opening a few more tabs on our browser, there was some noticeable –albeit completely reasonable and predictable –lag that slowed down the entire laptop. Despite this, if you’re considering upgrading or replacing office computers, this might be the best way to go (if you have the funds for multiple units, that is).
This is important because small business owners need a laptop that will be able to handle multiple programs running at the same time, mostly because they’ll be using their laptop as an all-around office machine. The i5 processor is the perfect balance between power and affordability. Sure, you won’t be able to play videogames on it, but you didn’t buy a work laptop for that, did you?
The Lenovo IdeaPad 300s for Small Business Owners: The Cons
While the rest of the laptop is pretty impressive, the IdeaPad 300s does disappoint in a couple of important factors, mainly its battery life and its webcam.
Perhaps the almost-deal-breaker downside of this laptop is its sub-par battery life. In our real-life test, it ran for only around 6 hours with a simple web browser running. When we ran multiple programs, like essential digital tools for business startups, the battery life went down considerably to around 2-3 hours. Meanwhile, its webcam is also pretty sub-par, with the front-facing cam producing grainy and often dark images. This might be ok for basic video calls, but for teleconferencing with clients or business associates, it isn’t the most professional.
Should SME Owners Get the Lenovo IdeaPad 300s?
Sturdy, lightweight, powerful, the IdeaPad 300s is the almost-perfect laptop for small business owners. It can act as an all-around office machine that’s capable of handling multiple programs at the same time. However, its sub-par battery life and terrible camera do limit some of its capabilities, but if you’re going to be using it at home or in an office and you won’t be too far away from a wall outlet, then this might not be a problem.
As for the webcam, just buy a simple, third-party webcam and you should be good to go.
Lenovo has a reputation for building high-power machines for reasonable prices. Reliability and performance are something they offer the users. And the Lenovo Ideapad is a good enough laptop for mid-to-heavy use, which makes it perfect for use when running a small business.
You can get Lenovo Ideapad 300S on Amazon* for under $500, but this might change depending on availability.