Lenovo IdeaPad C340 (14-inch) Review: Fast, flexible, flawed

IdeaPad C340

Lenovo’s latest gift to on-the-go creatives is the IdeaPad C340, a reasonably priced chromebook that can be used as either a laptop of a tablet. Released late last year, it’s a smart move from the stalwart company, focusing on value for price-conscious consumers in need of a reliable 2-in-1 for everyday use.

Although you’re still looking at a chunky price tag from AU$1,099, the C340 does pack in a lot of features and a smooth design to help justify the cost. But are the flaws too much to rival similarly priced competitors?

Design

Lenovo has kept this design clean and professional to aim squarely at office and education users. Aside from a small company logo tucked to the side, the top is a clean, metal and grey – dull but gets the job done. It is quite heavy too, with the overall device weighing in at 1.65kg and filling out at 17.9mm thickness; not exactly as “lightbody” as you’d want a portable to be.

You’ll need two hands to lift the lid up, revealing a backlit flat keyboard with all the obvious keys and shortcuts, and a trackpad below. The gorgeous 14″ Full HD IPS display is where the value lies, although it only reaches up to 250 nitts so you might find yourself pushing the brightness to the max as anything lower can look quite dim. The colours really pop though, with a decent resolution of 1920 x 1080. 10-point multi touch means you won’t have any issue at all when it comes to responsiveness should you choose to use this mostly in tablet mode.

But the weight is an issue.

Tablet users would understandably expect something a bit more lightweight, which makes the C340 make much more sense as a desktop replacement.

Connectivity is generous for a 2-in-1 at this price range. You’ve got a valuable HDMI 1.4b port, a USB-C, port for the charger, and an audio jack on the left side, while the right hosts two USB-A ports, an SD card reader and the power button so you can turn the device on no matter what position it’s in.

The large and sturdy hinges are the only things that keep this from a seamless aesthetic. But of course they are necessary, and are flexible enough to smoothly transition from laptop to tablet at will.

There is no storage for the stylus on the actual device, but at least Lenovo are generous enough to include one with the device.

If you like complaining about bezels, you won’t like the chin on this. In laptop mode, the bottom bezel that cuts the display at the bottom is quite large compared to the narrow blacks that run around the other sides of the screen.

Performance

With a AMD Ryzen 5 3500U 2.1GHz and 8GB RAM there are few complaints when it comes to reasonable performance. Gamers won’t be able to push this for newer titles, but those using it strictly for productivity will be able to multi-task as much as they’ll need to. With a 256GB SSD, there’s an adequate amount of space for creators to do their job.

If you’re streaming media, make sure to do it in desktop mode with headphones only, as the speakers are laughably bad. Without any speakers or headphones to augment it, the sound you’d get straight from this device is flat, muddy and lacks all detail. It does have impressive volume, but the clarity is atrocious.

Battery life is similarly disappointing, and its safe to expect an average of six hours on the go at reasonable settings. Keep in mind that because the display can look rather dim otherwise, the brightness setting will have to be maxed out most times, which means more battery consumption.

Luckily it does charge quite fast. I consistently clocked around 2 hours for a full charge.

Verdict & Value

Lenovo must have known that not everything is a hit with the C340, so they at least atoned with an efficient CPU and enough horsepower to comfortably multi-task all day. Well, at least until the battery runs out.

The C340 doesn’t hold up so well when you’re talking about it as a portable device. It weighs more than it should, doesn’t at all hold up to “all day use” claims (without a charger), and feels awkward to hold as a tablet. Anyone using this for a binge watch will need their headphones too, because the speakers are almost not worth mentioning at all.

It all comes down to what you’re looking for. The C340 is very affordable when compared to 2-in-1’s that offer a similar performance. It also works great as a home body purchased to replace both a desktop and a tablet. But 2-in-1’s should be much more travel-friendly, especially if they are targeting nomadic creative types.

THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights: Gorgeous, colourful display; great connectivity; fast and efficient; touchscreen very responsive; bundled stylus.
Lowlights: Terrible speakers; not bright enough if settings aren’t maxed out; weighty; poor battery life.
Manufacturer: Lenovo
Price: From AU$1,099
Available: Now

This review is based on a 14″ AMD Ryzen 5 3500U 2.1GHz model loaned by Lenovo.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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