Why did I buy this thing?
I had been looking for an ultra-portable laptop to use as a thin-client computer.
Something that I could establish a VPN connection to my home network with and connect into my more powerful desktop computer. Something I could throw into my backpack and carry around with me every day if I wanted to. Something I could use around the house. I already have an HP Envy dv7 laptop, but lugging a 17″ desktop replacement laptop around the house just isn’t something I want to do anymore.
I had been thinking about buying a really old IBM ThinkPad or Lenovo laptop. I will occasionally see them on Craigslist or eBay for $25-50. I’ve always wanted a ThinkPad. There is just something about their styling that steals my heart!
In the past I purchased an old PowerBook G4 from a guy on Craigslist to do just this very task. I gave the man $25 for it (or was it $30 or $40, it was several years ago now and I’ve slept since then). I sat it aside because I didn’t feel comfortable using the power cable that appeared to be charred. I didn’t really want to invest the money into buying a new power cable considering it would have been more than I paid for the computer itself. One of these days I will revive that computer! I hate the fact that it just sits in the closet! Anyway, I digress (a lot)!
Ultimately, the problem with buying an old IBM/Lenovo or refurbishing the PowerBook G4 was that any of those options are old, heavy, probably need new batteries, and produce way more heat than I want to deal with.
To facilitate my need for an ultra-portable thin-client, I had been using my Amazon Fire tablet. Using an external keyboard and mouse it worked fairly well. However, I still longed for a true laptop form factor. I wanted something with more versatility and ports.
Cut to me in Best Buy on Black Friday 2017 looking at a Lenovo 110S for $99. Unfortunately, they were sold out. However, after looking at it in store and falling in love with the look and feel of it I decided this would be a perfect ultra-portable thin-client computer. Sure, the specs were absolutely terrible. Sure, the screen is absolutely awful. However, the form factor was fantastic. The fact that it was running Windows 10 was even better. I decided to look and see if I could find it online for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to find it for $99 like I did in Best Buy. However, I was able to get it through my employer’s Perks at Work program for a little under $180 (after taxes and shipping). So, yeah, I paid for it twice. *SIGH* *FACEPALM*
Mind Blowing Specifications
I mentioned that the specs on this laptop are absolutely terrible, but let’s list them out:
Processor: Intel® Celeron® N3160 Processor @ 1.60 GHz
Operating System: Windows 10 Home
Graphics: Integrated Intel® HD Graphics 400
Webcam / Microphone: 0.3MP with Microphone
Memory: 2.0 GB
Storage: 32 GB eMMC
Audio: 2 x 1W speaker
Battery: 31.9WHr; Up to 7 Hours Video Playback
Display: 11.6″ HD (1366 x 768) Anti-Glare
WiFi: 802.11 AC (1 x 1)
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0
• 1 x USB 3.0
• 2 x USB 2.0
• 3.5 mm Combo Audio Jack
• 1 x HDMI™
• 4-in-1 Card Reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC)
Installing an m.2 SSD
Between the time I saw this computer at Best Buy and purchasing through Perks at Work I did some research to see if there was any possibility of upgrading the internal components. Unfortunately, the RAM is soldered onto the motherboard so I knew I would be stuck with the 2 GBs of built-in RAM. However, I did see a few posts where people had upgraded the internal storage to an m.2 SATA III SSD. I did do this and highly recommend it. 32 GBs of storage is simply not enough for Windows 10. What wound up happening every single time I would turn this computer on was Windows would tell me that it couldn’t install any updates because there wasn’t enough storage space available. This nag screen would bog down the performance of this machine so badly it usually rendered it useless.
Installing the m.2 SATA III SSD takes less than 10 minutes. It is as simple as removing all of the screws on the bottom of the laptop, prying it apart, inserting the m.2 drive and re-assembling the laptop.
I will say that while I was installing the m.2 SSD I needed a screw to tighten it down so I didn’t have to worry about it disconnecting during re-assembly or normal usage. I stole one of the bottom panel screws for this task. Then used whatever screw I could find that would work as a temporary replacement.
The m.2 SSD I installed is a Silicon Power 120GB M55 M.2 2280 SSD which I purchased on Amazon.
Thoughts After 8 Months of Use
I know, I am so super speedy to write about the products that I buy! It’s a good thing I’m not trying to make money off of this site. However, I always figure there is someone out there who is thinking about buying something second hand or maybe they are nostalgic about the products they buy and want to see what other people had to say about them.
1.) I really do love the form-factor of this laptop.
2.) The screen is absolutely awful. I made a rule after I bought my first IPS display that I’d never buy anything without an IPS display. I wish I had stuck to that rule.
3.) The trackpad on the laptop is tiny. I won’t say the mouse buttons tend to stick, but they do have a tendency not to register your clicks because you’re not pressing far enough in the middle of the button.
4.) Unless you’re going to put an m.2 SSD into this computer like I did, don’t even bother buying the 32 GB version of this computer. 32 GBs is just not enough for Windows. Even if you strip ALL of the pre-installed software (including Microsoft Office) and disable a ton of the built-in Windows features, 32 GBs is not enough. Windows Updates will eat up all available space every single time you turn it on.
5.) Don’t buy this unless you have a highly specialized need like I did. This should not be your daily driver. It shouldn’t even be a computer you buy for someone as their first computer or a relative who desperately needs a computer. There are better options out there. 2 GBs of RAM is just enough for a couple of tasks. It’s plenty if all you’re doing is running a remote desktop session.
6.) Remote desktop, which is what I use this computer for 99.9% of the time I have it turned on, works beautifully.
7.) The computer is, shockingly, able to drive two external monitors via a Plugable USB 3.0 docking station.
8.) Battery standby time is pretty impressive. I don’t use this every day. When I do I’m only using it 1-2 hours at a time and all I am doing is RDP. I can usually go a couple of weeks without actually having to charge the computer. I can leave it laying around the house in standby mode.
9.) The hinge on the laptop is amazing. While I will probably never have the need to completely flatten out the laptop, should I ever have the need to do so, this laptop can do it effortlessly.
10.) Make sure you keep this laptop in a sleeve if you don’t want it to get scratched up. I really like the Amazon Basics sleeve I purchased for mine.
Would I buy it again? Probably not for $180 *FACEPALM*. If someone has an upgraded model of this on Black Friday 2018 for less than $100 I would consider upgrading, but since I already have this one, it would need to be one heck of an upgrade.
- F2 during startup will get you into the BIOS.
- If you need/want to reinstall Windows, the easiest way to do so is to create a bootable USB drive using Rufus. Rufus has options for UEFI systems. Using Microsoft’s boot disk creator does not work in my experience.