Lenovo IdeaPad S400 review
It’s pretty, but its poor performance and touchpad leave the IdeaPad S400 behind its competitors
Review Date: 7 Dec 2012
Price when reviewed: £390
Reviewed By: Katharine Byrne
While many cheaper laptops have dour-looking chassis with cheap-feeling plastic and nasty silver trim, the IdeaPad S400 is a breath of fresh air thanks to its bright red lid and slimline exterior. It shows that you don’t need to spend serious money to have something a bit portable and stylish.
The laptop measures just 22x336x241mm and weighs a mere 1.8kg. It feels incredibly light to hold, and is slim enough to slip easily into a bag or carry around one-handed. It also won’t be too much of a burden if you want to carry it in a shoulder bag. We’re seeing increasing numbers of slim and light laptops at sub-£400 prices, and what with the increasing numbers of good-value tablets available, it’s no wonder the netbook’s days are well and truly numbered.
The inside of the laptop isn’t quite so exciting, thanks to the black, glossy bezel and matt black plastic keyboard, but its full-size Chiclet-style keyboard, where the keys are spaced apart from each other, is an absolute joy to type on. The keys are well-spaced and provide plenty of tactile feedback, but unfortunately the laptop’s all-in-one touchpad just isn’t up to scratch. It’s slightly offset from the centre, but while it didn’t necessarily get in our way while typing, it’s so imprecise that using it soon became an exercise in patience.
The touchpad supports multi-touch gestures, such as swiping from right to left to bring up the Windows 8 Charms bar, but often it simply refused to work. Likewise, the touchpad buttons are also touch-sensitive, so whenever we clicked on them the cursor would move around the screen, making even simple navigation an immensely frustrating experience. We’d definitely recommend using an external mouse to save yourself the misery of having to use the frustrating touchpad.
Unfortunately, there’s bad news on the performance front, as the laptop’s slow processor makes even everyday tasks trying. Instead of a more common (and more powerful) Intel Core processor, the S400 only has an Intel Pentium 997 chip, which is a significant step down from what most budget laptops offer. There’s 4GB of RAM, which is enough to run Windows 8 smoothly, but a score of just 18 overall in our multimedia benchmark tests shows this laptop is right at the bottom of the barrel for performance. While you’ll be fine for web browsing, we wouldn’t recommend any serious multitasking.
Unsurprisingly, the S400 is no good for gaming either, and its integrated Intel HD Graphics chipset couldn’t run our Dirt Showdown test at High Quality settings at a 720p resolution. The laptop still couldn’t break 15 fps even when we lowered the quality settings right down to Ultra Low, so the only games you’ll likely be playing on this machine are those you can download from the Windows 8 Store or play in your web browser.
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