The Bottom Line
Sep 11 2013 - For those that want a low cost touchscreen based laptop, the Lenovo IdeaPad S400 Touch is a very attractive offer. The relatively compact and light system offers a smooth enough overall experience which is useful for the new user interface of Windows 8. It certainly isn't going to be winning any performance marks but is close enough to the competition. The biggest flaw with the system is its short overall running time that is well below other budget systems.
- Multitouch Compatible Display
- Very Lightweight For Its Size
- Comfortable Keyboard
- Limited Battery Life
- No Optical Drive
- Narrow Viewing Angles
- Intel Core i3-3227U Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 14" WXGA (1366x768) Multitouch Display With 1.0 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- Fast Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- One USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, Card Reader
- 13.3" x 9.5" x .9" @ 3.6 lbs.
- Windows 8
Review - Lenovo IdeaPad S400 Touch
Sep 11 2013 - The Lenovo IdeaPad S400 Touch looks very similar to many of the other consumer laptops coming from the company. The big difference here is that it is designed to be more affordable and as a result uses less expensive plastics that do not feature any soft grip surfaces. Frankly, it is a very plain design. The system is relatively thin being under and inch and the weight is very low at just over three and a half pounds.
Powering the Lenovo IdeaPad S400 Touch is the 3rd generation Intel Core i3-3227U dual core processor. This is a lower voltage processor that was popular for many low cost ultrabooks. It is not going to be a high performance processor for those that might want to do something like desktop video editing but it works well for most people that use there PC for web browsing, media streaming and productivity applications. The processor is matched up with 4GB of DDR3 memory for a smooth enough experience with Windows 8.
Storage for the Lenovo IdeaPad S400 Touch is typical of a standard laptop rather than an ultrabook. It uses a traditional 500GB hard drive for storage but does not feature any solid state cache. While this provides it with a average amount of storage space, it lacks a bit of the performance that would be found from systems that do use cache. Boot times are under thirty seconds however which is a decent time for a hard drive based system in Windows 8. If you need additional storage, there is a single USB 3.0 port for use with high speed external hard drives. It should be noted that this laptop does not feature a DVD burner which is fairly common for laptops of this size but it is something to be aware of for anyone that might want to have the ability to playback or record CD or DVD without having to get an external drive.
The big feature for the IdeaPad S400 Touch is the 14-inch mutlitouch compatible display. This makes it much easier to deal with the Windows 8 operating system but does mean that it will need frequent cleaning. It is a pretty typical budget display though in terms of its 1366x768 resolution. The color is decent but the viewing angles are particularly narrow on the horizontal angles such that it has some significant color drop off. The graphics are handled by the Intel HD Graphics 4000 that are built into the Core i3 processor. This means that the laptop is not really suited to 3D tasks such as PC gaming unless you happen to be playing older games at limited resolutions and detail levels. What it does offer instead is the ability to accelerate media encoding when using Quick Sync compatible applications.
The IdeaPad S400 Touch uses the standard isolated layout keyboard that is common to many of their laptops. It is extremely comfortable and offers an accurate overall typing experience. The only complaint is that the right hand shift key uses a smaller dimension in order to allow for four full size arrow keys. This may cause issues for some users. The trackpad is a decent size and features integrated buttons. For the most part it is accurate but some multitouch gestures in Windows 8 did present a few problems.
To keep its compact size and low price tag, the Lenovo IdeaPad S400 Touch features a smaller four cell battery pack. In digital video playback, the laptop was able to run for just under three hours before going into standby mode. This is well below the average for this class of laptop and is likely the result of the smaller battery paired with a power consuming touchscreen display. In comparison, the 14-inch touchscreen based ASUS VivoBook S400CA is able to run for four and a half hours in the same test.
Priced at $450, the Lenovo IdeaPad S400 is one of the most affordable systems on the market to feature a touchscreen display. The ASUS VivoBook S400CA is probably the closest comparison but it still costs several hundred dollars more because it matches the full ultrabook specifications with SSD caching. The next closest option would likely be the Dell Inspiron 15 which has nearly identical specifications other than it does not come with a touchscreen display. The larger size has the disadvantage of a higher weight but it also has a longer battery life like the ASUS.