Who doesn’t mind an ultra-slim laptop to carry around and to use at home and at work? They are beautiful, light enough to carry around and as thin as a few A4 sized sheets stacked on your workstation. Simply slide this into your backpack and walk away. Equally, this beauty and style also brings a bit of a conundrum. Rather, a compromise. Ports. Or the lack of them. For years, users have chosen form factor over compromises in utility, purely because of the lighter weight and slimmer footprint. The ultimate resort being dongles. But Lenovo might just have the ideal antidote with this IdeaPad S540 laptop. And with a price tag of around Rs 65,000 there really are no arguments against it.
I like how Lenovo laptop designs are all about sophistication and class. The subtle colours, slick designs and absolutely nothing ostentatious at all. The IdeaPad S540 walks the same path. This is the Mineral Grey colour, though if you’d prefer, Lenovo also has the Abyss Blue and the Copper colour options as well. It is the same finish on the lid, on the keyboard deck, the side spines and the underside. This measures just 16.95mm at its thickest point, lid closed. That is still lesser than two iPhone 11 Pro Max stacked one on top of the other. There is just something about the new Lenovo logo style on the lid and near the keyboard. Whichever side you look at this from, it looks good. Not the lightest though as it tips the scales at 1.9kg, but it is still quite easy to carry around. But needless to say, this will be right at home in an office environment as it will be for a Netflix binge watching session.
This is where there is no compromise
Then there is the small matter of the ports, something that Lenovo doesn’t want to compromise on. There are two USB 3.1 ports, a USB Type-C port, an SD card reader, a 3.5mm headphone jack and even an HDMI out port. Slim laptops usually compromise on these, but not the Lenovo IdeaPad S540.
Start writing, now
Open the lid of the Lenovo IdeaPad S540, and this is where the extra real estate that this large 15.6-inch display really shows up. The keyboard is nicely spaced out, with generously large individual keys. There is also a number pad on the right side, something that 13-inch laptops usually don’t have the luxury of. Add in a large touchpad, and this could just be a great combination for writers. You do need to factor in the slight learning curve with Lenovo keyboards (at least that is the case with me) because of the slightly different layout of the direction keys as well as the placement of certain keys, compared with what HP laptops and even the Microsoft Surface series of devices offer. It is a bit hard to not notice how the keyboard deck dips a little bit if you press down with even the slightest pressure near the middle of the keyboard—not that it will break or anything, but it just feels out of place on a laptop that has aspirations of fighting the more premium rivals.
What really stands out is the fingerprint sensor. Not many laptops integrate a fingerprint sensor, but it is really handy for simple tasks such as unlocking the laptop as you return to your desk to resume work. This ties in seamlessly with the Windows hello sign-in options too. It is not just the convenient, but the data privacy and security aspect as well. Speaking of which, this doesn’t have the Windows Hello face recognition compatible camera—that seems to be a perplexing miss and would have been even more convenient.
Full HD is the way to go
There is often the debate about whether laptops should have a Full HD or a 4K display. Many people will point out that 4K is better. But think about the trade-offs. You will have to temper down the settings in games, for instance, for the graphics hardware work well on the 4K resolution. And even if you aren’t gaming, you’ll still end up draining more battery because there are more pixels that need to be powered. I am quite happy that Lenovo has gone ahead with the Full HD resolution for this 15.6-inch display. The Full HD resolution just works. It is the perfect balance between utility and whatever is on the screen looking good.
The display on the Lenovo IdeaPad S540 surely looks good. It is bright and it is adequately sharp. Viewing angles are better than a lot of its rivals, because the display isn’t as reflective. That helps with usage comfort, which is worth its weight in gold. Colours look crisp and well defined, though I would have preferred if they were dialled a tad more towards vividness. What this display doesn’t do, is the whole touchscreen thing. I would not consider that a negative at all. The display hinge lets you push this screen as far back as you want, and that is great if you are working in an office environment with irritating overhead lighting.
Style comes with substance
The specs are no compromise either. There is the Intel Core i5-8265U processor chugging away under the hood. This is paired with 8GB of RAM, which is par for the course. This combination is more than adequate for most use cases at home and at work and handles multi-tasking well enough. The combination of a 128GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive are just the right balance of performance and storage space. The Windows 10 loading time is significantly quicker because of the SSD’s significantly faster data read and write speeds. There is also the Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics, which add that dollop of versatility, in case you want to do casual gaming.
Battery comes with the fast charging capabilities too. A fully discharged IdeaPad S540 can be charged up to 80% in about an hour. And Lenovo claims a 15-minute RapidCharge will offer battery run time of as much as 2 hours. That combined with the great overall battery runtime stats, makes this ideal for travellers too—we got close to 12 hours of battery life in most use cases, which means you can safely leave the adapter at home and carry this to work, and it’ll get through the day without breaking into a sweat.
I am happy to note that the Windows 10 operating system that comes preloaded on this machine does not have many third-party apps preloaded. That clutter is something a lot of other laptops come with—and they can be pretty annoying. Lenovo has streamlined its own utilities as well into an app called Lenovo Vantage—which manages device driver updates, security settings and more.
Is the Lenovo IdeaPad S540 your calling?
It is most certainly not easy when it comes to buying a slim laptop. It is choices galore and most of these carry premium price tags, to say the least. The Apple MacBook Air, the Dell XPS 13, the HP Spectre and the likes, all cost a lot more. Which is where the large screen and the super slim form factor of the Lenovo IdeaPad S540 makes it a really enticing option to consider. Prices start around Rs 65,000 and that is the cherry on the cake.