For the last several years, Lenovo has marketed three lines of laptops: ThinkPad, IdeaPad, and Essential. The basic difference between them has been that they were optimized for either business or consumer purposes. Thinkpads were business laptops, Ideapads were upscale consumer laptops, and Essentials were budget consumer laptops. These lines were further divided into "series" based on the substantial differences between them. In 2014, however, Lenovo appears to have undertaken a marketing change, distinguishing only between Thinkpads (still for business) and "Lenovo Laptops" (for consumers.)
The reason for this new classification may be that Lenovo now offers three other lines of consumer laptops with marketing appeals that do not quite fit into either the Ideapad or Essential lines. Two of these new lines are laptop-tablet hybrids or "convertibles"--Yoga and Flex-- and the third is a Chromebook. To mark the differences between "Lenovo Laptops," Lenovo continues to divide them into series.
DWSS focuses its selection of Lenovo laptops on consumer laptops. Still, a few words can be said about ThinkPads. Enhanced for business purposes, they have hardware features that are high-quality and business-oriented, including the latest Intel processors, integrated webcams, high-speed USB 3.0 ports, multi-format card readers, hard disk drive impact protection, and DisplayPorts. They still have the red TrackPoint button embedded in the keyboard, but it's more of a stylish legacy feature, with users relying more on the Windows 8-optimized trackpads. Finally, they are preloaded with business-friendly software such as the Lenovo Solutions Center (a system health dashboard), Trusted Platform Module (a client security software solution), password manager, and Lenovo Cloud Storage.
Lenovo Laptops, i.e., consumer laptops, are divided into the following series:
G-Series laptops are Lenovo's main budget consumer laptops, made for everyday computer tasks like creating office documents, going online, watching or listening to multimedia entertainment, playing undemanding PC games, and simple photo or video editing. On the low end of the G-Series are models priced around $250. Basically Windows alternatives to Chromebooks, they come with a minimal 2GB of RAM, small hard drives, and dispense with optical drives. Most other G-Series models are priced in the $450-650 range. Built with durable plastic bodies, they typically have 4th-generation Intel Core processors, integrated Intel graphics, 4-8GB RAM, and 500GB-1TB hard drives. They also come in 14", 15.6", and 17.3" non-touchscreen displays, usually with partial HD (1366X768, up to 720p) resolutions.
S-Series laptops are Lenovo's ultraportable budget consumer laptops. Priced in the $380-420 range, they tend to come with low-end AMD or Intel processors, integrated low-end AMD or Intel graphics, 4GB RAM, and 500GB hard drives. Less than 1" thick and weighing under 3 lbs, the S-Series laptops with Intel processors typically sport 11.6" touchscreen and partial HD (1366X768) displays.
Z-Series laptops are Lenovo's mainstream consumer laptops, striking a balance between design, performance, and affordability, but still able to handle moderately-demanding take home work, school homework, and multimedia entertainment. Made with a durable plastic body, they usually sell for between $500-800. They typically feature 4th-generation Intel Core processors, integrated Intel graphics, 4-8GB RAM, and 500GB-1TB hard drives. They come in a variety of non-touchscreen display sizes, including 14", 15.6", and 17.3," and resolutions, up to full HD (1920X1080, up to 1080p.)
Y-Series laptops are Lenovo's premium consumer laptops, optimized for high-intensity gaming, high-definition multimedia consumption, professional multimedia creation, and heavy multi-tasking. Constructed with a brushed aluminum chassis, they usually sell for between $1000-1500, but sometimes higher with upgrades. They typically feature the same 4th-generation Intel Core processors as other Lenovo laptop series, but they also come with much more hardware firepower. They typically sport discrete NVIDIA GeForce graphics processors, 8-16GB RAM, and 1TB solid state hybrid drives. They come in 14", 15.6", and 17.3" display sizes, both touchscreen and non-touchscreen, usually with full HD resolutions.
U-Series laptops are Lenovo's Ultrabook and Ultrabook-style laptops, built with stylishness, portability, boot-up speed, and battery life in mind. Because Ultrabook standards, which are controlled by Intel, are very precise but also constantly changing, caution must be exercised when describing any laptop as an Ultrabook. Previous U-Series models met the standards, but some current models do not (standards include less than .91" in thickness, wake up from sleep mode in under 3 seconds, at least 9 hours of battery life, and a touchscreen.) To be clear, Lenovo refers to this series as its line of "designer/ultrabook" laptops. They tend to feature 4th-generation Intel Core processors, Intel or NVIDIA graphics, 4-8GB RAM, 500GB-1TB solid state hybrid drives, and 14" and 15.6" displays, either non-touchscreen or touchscreen, up to full HD. Excluding the laptops that lack a touchscreen, the other laptops in this series meet, if not exceed, Ultrabook standards.
Yoga Series laptops are convertible laptops with displays that can be folded back up to approximately 360 degrees into various modes, such as tent mode (an upside-down V-shape), stand mode (keyboard down and behind display) or tablet mode (folded all the way around.) Ranging between $500-1000, they typically come with Intel Celeron, Pentium, or Core processors, integrated Intel graphics, 4-8GB RAM, 256GB solid state or 500GB solid state hybrid drives, and either 11.6" (1366X768) or 13.3" (1920X1080) touchscreen displays.
Flex Series laptops are convertible laptops with displays that can be folded back up to approximately 300 degrees into tent mode or stand mode, but not tablet mode. Ranging between $600-900, they typically come with Intel Core processors, integrated Intel graphics, 4-8GB RAM, 500GB solid state hybrid drives, and 14" touchscreen displays with either 1366X768 or 1920X1080 resolutions.
N-Series laptops are Lenovo's versions of the Chromebook, loaded with the Chrome OS. Like most Chromebooks, they are priced in the mid-high $200 range and typically come with low-end Intel processors, integrated Intel graphics, 2GB RAM, 16GB solid state drives, and 11.6" displays with 1366X768 resolutions. Lenovo offers an upscale Chromebook priced at around $350, which comes with a touchscreen and multimode display that can be folded back up to 300 degrees into tent or stand mode (these are listed in our Google section.)
Try our comparison engine
Use our comparison engine to quickly scan the differences between Lenovo laptops. For e.g., you could compare the G50-70 models (click here to view the results.) Or you could compare equivalent models from different series, like the models with 8GB RAM, 1TB hard drives, and 15.6" displays from the G-Series, Z-Series, and Y-Series (click here to view the results.) You can compare up to 4 laptops as long as they are on the same webpage.