An affordable convertible with isolated graphics
For several years since the launch of the Yoga brand in late 2012, Lenovo has taken its convertible laptop offer seriously – perhaps more seriously than any other PC maker out there. Now, however, the Chinese electronics company has decided that its customers will not be confused enough with its brand names. So it’s name switching up. As a result, its new addition – the S940 – is not a changeable one. But its new IdeaPad-IdeaPad C340 is.
Lenovo’s marketing team may have made a mistake in naming its 2019 set of products, but it did a great job with the location of the new IdeaPad C340. The new convertible starts at a pocket-friendly price of Rs 46,190 and goes up to Rs 89,490. With the price band, you can choose a variant with an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 CPU. You can choose a variant with integrated or individual graphics. This makes all new variables highly configurable. Now, let’s see how this works in our test lab.
Performance and gaming
While PC makers like Asus and MSI are keen to offer Intel’s 10th Gen chip on their laptops, Lenovo seems to be in no hurry to do so. Our review unit of the IdeaPad C340 was powered by an Intel 8th Gen Core i5 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce MX230 graphics card and 8GB of RAM. Storage was taken care of by a Samsung 512GB PCIe NVMe solid-state drive. Thanks to the MX230 graphics card, the IdeaPad C340 gets 2GB of dedicated video RAM for the game, which doesn’t offer much change in the Indian market.
The Lenovo IdeaPad C340 performed very well in our CPU and GPU benchmark tests. In PCMark 8’s Accelerated Creative test, the review unit collected 3749 points, a few points ahead of the scores obtained by the refreshed HP Specter x360 launched earlier this year. It was the same story with the storage test. At 3DMark’s Fire Strike and Cloud Gate, the review unit picked up 2427 and 7921 points, respectively. The score of the IdeaPad C340 on Fire Strike is the highest I’ve seen among convertible laptops since launching the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S last year.
The daily performance of the review unit was quite good. I’ve been able to multitask across multiple virtual desktops in a myriad of applications, such as WhatsApp for Word, Excel, Chrome, File Explorer, Steam, and PC, without experiencing any stuttering. That said, I’ve noticed occasional lag in pointer movement and window switching (lasting about a second) but I’ll fix it up to a possible driver bug. There was a pressing issue in the gaming review unit. Doom Full HD runs at an average frame rate of 30 frames per second in medium graphics settings. Metro: Last Light, on the other hand, handles about 20 frames per second. There were visible gaps from time to time in both games. All things considered, the IdeaPad C340 performs well, with some room for improvement in the gaming and graphics segments.
In our standard battery benchmark test, the review unit was able to hold the battery power for 3 hours, 38 minutes. Now, this is a disappointing low score for any modern laptop, including Intel’s U-Series processors, but it’s understandable because the IdeaPad C340 is heavily weighted by the presence of two major power-hungry components: a separate graphics card and a touchscreen display. The latter usually consumes more battery than the former.
In our day-to-day experiments, the review unit was tasked with setting the screen brightness to 80 percent and doing multitasking on common apps like Chrome, Excel, Steam, etc. At this time, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth were also left enabled. Within an hour and a half, the battery level dropped to 78 percent. When I increased the screen brightness to the maximum, the drain rate suddenly and abruptly increased. In the same hour and a half, the battery level dropped from 8 percent to 36 percent. In short, the IdeaPad C340 is not just for long distance flights but it will do the job if you fly within the country.
Display, Touch, Audio and IoT
The IdeaPad C340 has a 14-inch touchscreen panel with full HD resolution. The colors of the unit, by default, are a little warmer than usual but this is a good thing because it makes reading text easy even when Windows 10 has Nightlight disabled. Sadly, the brightness is down ৷ The screen does not reach its maximum brightness value of 250 nits unless you turn on the 100% brightness slider on Windows. All things considered, it’s still a good panel for web browsing, video playback, and document editing unless you mind raising the brightness.
Like a true convertible, the IdeaPad C340 has a 14-inch display that can be switched back to tablet mode. What’s more, the laptop comes bundled with a Lenovo Active Pen stylus. Palm rejection on the display surface has good accuracy but can do even better. The surface is otherwise smooth and convenient for drawing and annotating. One of the major drawbacks of using a tablet is the high weight of the laptop at 1.65 kg. On the plus side, Windows prompts you to switch to tablet mode when you fold the display again and rotate the device to portrait mode. If anything, the IdeaPad C340 could come with a built-in storage silo for the stylus.
The sound from the IdeaPad C340’s two down-firing speakers is loud enough to fill a large office bay when it’s not too noisy around but not very clear. Famous electrophone tunes like The Weekend Starboy Mostly flat sounds at all volume levels. The middle and height speakers are avoided from the grill when the volume is between 60 and 80 percent but the lower sound is nowhere to be heard. When the volume is close to the maximum, a fair amount of distortion occurs, which is most commonly used for voice and speech.
The Lenovo IdeaPad C340 comes with decent connectivity options. On the left side of its body, we see a round-pin power port, a full-size HDMI port, a USB-C 3.1 port, and a 3.5mm audio jack for the headset. On the right, we see two USB 3.1 ports (in which a PC can charge a mobile device while asleep), and a full-size SD card slot. The power button also finds itself here so the laptop can also be turned on in tablet mode. The only concern is that the button is hard to find if you haven’t looked at the device and there is very little response, so it’s hard to tell if you’ve pressed it in a hurry.
Below the backlit keyboard is a squirrel fingerprint scanner, which works quickly with Windows Hello for user sign-in and in-app authentication. Like its 2019-launched siblings (with the exception of the entry-level IdeaPad S145), the IdeaPad C340 plays a physical shutter for the webcam above the display. This is a small detail but that sliding shutter goes a long way in ensuring complete privacy and peace of mind. That means you don’t have to stick a small piece of tape in there, just to close the world.
Keyboard and touchpad
The keyboard of IdeaPad C340 is better or slightly better than the unit of IdeaPad S340. The key-caps are large enough to be easily accessible but not the right shape for easy pressing. In other words, the keys on this keyboard bend outwards, while the keys on most other laptops try their best to bend inwards. The keys on the IdeaPad C340 also lack depth and adequate responsiveness. That said, they’re not terrible for everyday typing. This keyboard is perfect for emails and short documents but is not designed for those who type a lot. On the plus side, it has two-stage backlighting for late-night compositions.
The touchpad, a modern precision unit, is great for single- and multi-finger taps and swipes. All that these taps and swipes should do is change directly to Windows settings without the need for a third party driver or utility. The surface is very large and smooth for easy operation. It’s fairly easy to press the two-click key at the bottom of the surface, though a little more flexibility wouldn’t go wrong. After all, it’s a great touchpad for spreadsheet editing and web browsing.
Construction and design
The IdeaPad C340 shares its build and design with the IdeaPad S340 and this is a good thing because the IdeaPad S340 is quite well made and looks quite professional in the office setting. Like its non-tablet counterparts, the IdeaPad C340 uses metal and plastic for base panels in its top cover construction. The result is a fairly slim laptop that is easy to hold and carry. Sadly, this is not the case. The IdeaPad C340 weighs 1.65 kilograms, which is undoubtedly higher for a convertible laptop. This extra heft can be chalked up to include a separate graphics card and a glass panel for the touchscreen display.
Opening the lid of the IdeaPad C340 reveals a glossy 14-inch display with a fairly thin bezel on three sides. Although the laptop itself is painted in an annoying light silver color, there are plenty of bold accents around to create some contrast. For example, the keyboard uses a dark gray shade, while the touchpad and fingerprint scanner use a slightly lighter shade of silver. The display hinges of the IdeaPad C340 seem quite strong. No play or shake when the device is switched between laptop and tablet mode. All in all, the IdeaPad C340 is a well-engineered machine for its price. As I said before, a storage silo for writing would be appreciated.
The last row
In contrast to the thin and light laptop market, the convertible laptop market is still far from overpopulated with affordable models. The Lenovo IdeaPad C340 makes a noticeable difference on that front because it is an accurate convertible priced at just half a million rupees, which is a fraction of the preferred price of Lenovo Yoga 730, Yoga C930, HP Envy x360, HP. Specter x360, etc. What’s more, it comes with separate graphics in the form of an Nvidia GeForce MX230 GPU. It then competed directly with last year’s HP Pavilion x360.
The Lenovo IdeaPad C340 is a delicate convertible laptop with enough power for everyday work. With the built-in dedicated GPU, you can even try your hand at gaming. Its display, though not bright enough, is good for annotations and doodles with bundled stylus. So where is the device not successful? At 1.65 kg, it is quite heavy for tablet use. Its battery life is also disappointingly short, especially if you maximize screen brightness. If you can live with these two subtractions, and the fact that the term isn’t too great, then the Lenovo IdeaPad C340 deserves a variable pick.