Lenovo IdeaPad S400 Hands-On: Great Keyboard, Soft-Touch Chassis

IdeaPad S400

 Lenovo’s new IdeaPad S300 and S400 may start at the modest price of $499, but they have a premium look and feel that you’d normally pay much more for. At Lenovo’s IFA Booth we had a chance to go hands-on with the 14-inch IdeaPad S400 and were impressed with its gorgeous design and luxurious keyboard.

The IdeaPad S400 comes in three colors: silver gray, cotton-candy pink and crimson red, with the lid and bottom both painted in the theme color while the deck, bezel and hinges remain black. There’s no question that the crimson red color is the real star of the show and the photos in this post just don’t do it justice. Looking at the red lid and smooth red bottom, which has matching crimson rubber feed and even a series of attractive looking air vents, you might forget this is a laptop and start thinking it’s a sports car.

IdeaPad S400 bottom

Even better, the S400’s lid, bottom and deck are all soft-touch surfaces that have a comfy, rubberized feel. When we placed our hands on the soft-touch deck and began typing, our wrists felt like they were lying on top of gel pad wrist rest. Normally, a soft-touch finish like that is only found in expensive, high-end notebooks like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

IdeaPad S400 lid

At 3.96 pounds and just .86 inches thick, the S400 really looks quite slim and felt light light in our hands. Though it’s not Ultrabook-light, you can carry this notebook anymore and fit it into any bag.

IdeaPad S400 side view

While Lenovo’s ThinkPads are known for their worldclass keyboards, many of its IdeaPads haven’t followed suit. Sure, the “Accutype” keyboards on IdeaPads look a lot like the ThinkPad’s new island-style keyboard, but many of them just don’t have the same sharp tactile feel. In fact, the IdeaPad Z500 and U510 that we saw this week had keyboards that weren’t as tactile as we’d like and even suffered from some flex.

Fortunately, the IdeaPad S400’s keyboard also feels like a ThinkPad keyboard, with strong tactile feedback and a rock solid, flex-free base. Combine the great feel of the keys with the soft-touch palmrest and you have a truly fantastic typing experience.

IdeaPad S400 Keyboard and Touchpad

As with any sub-$500 notebook, the IdeaPad S400 does have a few feature that are not particularly premium. The plastic hinges on the lid made creaking noises and seemed really flimsy on the demo units we tested (we hope this is fixed on production models) and the low-res, 1366 x 768 screen was nothing to type home about.

You can spec-out the IdeaPad S400 with up to a Core i5 or AMD A8 quad-core CPU, and can speed boot times with a 32GB SSD cache so this system should offer reasonable mid-range performance to go with its touted 5-hour battery life. But even with the base configuration, you get a fantastic keyboard and red-hot design for under $500. Based on what we saw in our hands-on, that seems like a bargain.

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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  1. AV Says:

    Thanks for the hands on review, Lenovo states that weight starts from 3.96pounds on 13.3″(S300) and 14″(S400), my suspicion is that the S400 is not 3.96pounds but heavier, did you weight it to see the real weight?

  2. Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director Says:

    We will weigh it when we get one in. We only had the chance to handle it briefly at Lenovo’s IFA Berlin booth.

  3. Devansh Says:

    Hey, when will it be available in India?? I need to buy this laptop but its yet not available.. but some of the online sellers guarantee the genuintiy of the product, If I purchase it from them… Kindly let me know the availabiltiy of this product in Delhi, India.. and at what price….waiting for an early responsee…

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