Those looking for solid productivity power, a roomy screen, and a comfortable keyboard should give the Lenovo IdeaPad S340-15IWL a fair shake, but make sure you pick up the right model. While we were pleased with the benchmark results for the S340-15IWL ($730 list, but generally closer to $500 online), the configuration we tested comes with a cut-rate TN display saddled with poor viewing angles. you can upgrade to a superior IPS panel for a modest amount of cash (as in $40 or so) while keeping the same internals, so you have options. A svelte design rounds out the package, although we do wish Lenovo had managed to wring a little more life out of the S340’s battery.

Price and configuration

Lenovo’s 15-inch S340 line includes models ranging from $630 up to $830, although Lenovo’s continual “instant” deals typically shave a couple hundred or more off the manufacturer’s list prices. Our review model (the SKU is 81N8003SUS), for example, has a $730 list price on Lenovo.com, but at the time this review was written, Lenovo’s website was selling it for $510 after a $220 “instant” discount.

Here’s what you get for that $730—er, $510 price tag:

  • CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i5-8265U
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4-2400 RAM
  • GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • Display: 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080 TN display
  • Storage: 256GB SSD

On paper, those are some pretty decent specs if you manage to buy the S340 at its $510 sale price. The quad-core Whiskey Lake processor will serve you well when it comes to daily computing chores, and even some CPU-intensive activities such as video editing. The 8GB of RAM gives you some headroom when it comes to multitasking, while the relatively roomy solid-state drive has enough space for Office and your go-to programs, if not your entire media library. The integrated graphics core is fine for light photo editing and maybe a game of chess, but not much more.

There is one red flag for this particular configuration, however: the TN (twisted nematic) display. While TN panels are fast and responsive (gamers with split-second reflexes love them), they’re also known for their poor viewing angles, which means they tend to look blown out unless you’re directly facing them. We’ll let you know how the full-HD display looks in real life in a moment. (Spoiler: not great.)

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If you want to save a little more cash, there’s a $630 (or $430 on sale) model of the S340 with the same basic specs as this version, except it has a dual-core Intel Core i3 processor rather than a quad-core CPU. You could also pony up a bit more cash (starting at $830, or $550 on sale) for an S340 with an IPS display, or go for a version with a cutting-edge 10th-gen Ice Lake Core i5 processor ($710 list, which is less than the MSRP of some of the 8th-gen models but minus any instant savings).

Design

When we think of Lenovo, we generally picture those black, boxy, all-business ThinkPads, but the S340 manages to cut a relatively stylish profile. Measuring 14.1 x 9.6 x 0.7 inches and weighing in at 3.9 pounds (or 4.4 pounds if you include the AC adapter), the S340 feels pleasingly thin but a tad heavy. The laptop’s Platinum Gray shell (Abyss Blue is another color option) looks plain yet stylish, with a flat, featureless lid save for a small Lenovo logo on the side.

lenovo ideapad s340 15iwl lid Ben Patterson/IDG

The Lenovo IdeaPad S340-15IWL’s design is plain, yet sleek.

Open the lid and you’ll find the 15.6-inch display with slim side and top bezels, although the bottom bezel is somewhat fatter. The grey keyboard and palmrest are unremarkable, although it’s worth noting that the power button sits just above the top-right corner of the numeric keypad, making it much less likely that you’ll press it by accident.



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