The IdeaPad S405 from Lenovo boasts not just respectable entry level notebook with plenty of grunt for basic computing but a pretty design and quad-core processing to boot, at a very exciting price point.
The appearance of hte IdeaPad S405 centres on its red display lid and brushed metal/black plastic insides and base. A few flourishes were sacrificed to bring it in at $699 – dual scroll is absent from the touch pad, there’s a bit of teeter on the lid if you aren’t careful, no physical volume control – but for all that it’s a good-looking machine with a clean design inside and out.
Lenovo have installed a AMD A8 quad-core CPU to run proceedings, backed by 4GB of 1600MHz RAM, and an AMD Radeon 7460G GPU taking care of the visuals. Lenovo have installed a 5400rpm 500GB spinning disk for storage.
As far as ports go, we get an HDMI interface, a couple of USB-2s and one USB-3 express-speed port, an SD card reader, but no optical drive for DVDs or any software you might have on disk.
Display-wise the 14-inch glossy screen has a 1366 x 768 pixel resolution, giving decent brightness and contrast, but the display is never going to be professional artist-grade.
The 2MP webcam above the screen performs adequately for Skyping, with fair video capture, and reasonable color reproduction. Audio is fairly loud at maximum volume, but the usual caveats apply as to well-defined and full-bodied sound; speakers are a must for anything other than background accompaniment.
Performance-wise, the quad-core AMD A8 series is about equal to the last-gen Intel i3 range of CPUs – it’s suited to multi-tabbed surfing, 1080p video, office suites, and such like, but not to heavy graphical work or gaming. So you’ll have to look back a couple of years to find game titles playable on the S405, since current demanding games are beyond the notebook’s abilities, even with settings and resolution pared to the bone. But Angry Birds, Delta Force from 2009 or so, FIFA 12 – they’ll all play, and masses of heavy web pages won’t slow the Windows 8 OS, which runs smoothly and launches programs and apps quickly enough not for it be irksome.
Actually, there is also an Intel Core i3-powered version on sale, the Lenovo IdeaPad S400, which runs on a low-end second-gen Sandy Bridge chip, but it relies on the old HD standard for integrated graphical processing, so what it gains in basic computational oomph it loses in grpahical competence. Same price, but users are best off with this version, since the extra grpahical grunt will keep image-rich webpages loading briskly as ever more rich media content lands up on the net.
The One Touch Recovery button means nasty viruses and general slowdowns over time can be eradicated in a flash, which is another nice feature for anyone looking for convenient computing at a decent price. Battery life unfortunately is not strong – it just about reaches to 4 hours of surfing. But it’s a light and svelte notebook, it’s good looking, and it suffices for everyday tasks at a very reasonably price. Amazon has a couple of
Lenovo IdeaPad S405 notebooks for just $371. You can’t beat this price!
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