- Great price/performance
- Solid quality
- Good keyboard
- Good speakers
- Runs cool and quiet
- Screen could be more colorful
- Could use keyboard backlighting
The IdeaPad Y series is Lenovo’s line of premium notebooks for consumers. The Y40 we’re reviewing is the sibling of the larger, more powerful, and consequently more expensive Y50, which we’ve already reviewed. The Y40’s selling points are its stylish and portable 14” design, ability to play the latest games, and perhaps equally as important, a digestible starting price of only $679. We found little to dislike about the Y40 and granted it our Editor’s Choice award for combining good quality, design, and performance into an affordable package.
Build and Design
The IdeaPad Y40 fits right into the gaming market with its edgy exterior; an eye-catching red colors its large JBL speaker grilles and even the sides of the keyboard keys. The angled back corners of the otherwise normally-shaped chassis and the raised lines on the back of the display lid lend the Y40 an aggressive presence.
The build materials are generally all plastic save for the black brushed aluminum palm rest and keyboard surround, which is all one piece. We noticed the glossy plastic around the speakers and display is prone to showing fingerprints but liked the slightly textured carbon fiber-esque pattern in the other exterior plastics.
The chassis is impressively stiff for a consumer notebook, exhibiting almost no flex when we picked it up one-handed (which we recommend against doing, for the record). The palm rest and surrounding areas feel exceptionally solid as well and don’t yield even under strong pressure. The hinge holding the lid is stiff enough to prevent a bump from causing excessive display wobble. The display can be opened one handed with ease and can tilt back 45 degrees past vertical. The lid’s strength is slightly above average, but above average pressure does cause some ripples in the display. Generally speaking we’re pleased with the Y40’s build and design.
Input and Output Ports
All of the expected ports can be found on the Y40’s chassis including three USB, two of which are SuperSpeed 3.0 variants, full-size Ethernet and HDMI, a media card reader, and even SPDIF. All picture descriptions are left to right.
Left: AC power jack, Ethernet, HDMI-out, 2x USB 3.0
Right: 4-in-1 media card reader, headphone/microphone combination jack, SPDIF, USB 2.0, lock slot
Screen and Speakers
The Y40 is available with only one display choice though it’s a rather decent one: a 14” TN-type panel with a 1920×1080 (1080p full HD) resolution with an anti-glare surface. The fact that it’s a TN-type panel means viewing angles are limited; the picture washes out if the display is tilted too far back or forward. The picture quality itself leaves something to be desired with so-so color reproduction and an overall cool hue. We think the contrast could use a boost as well.
On the positive side, the 1080p resolution is great for productivity and multimedia alike, producing a sharp and detailed picture. We’re also appreciative of the anti-glare surface which eliminates the reflections that plague glossy displays. Put in perspective, the Y40’s display is more than acceptable given its price point.
A pair of JBL speakers is prominently situated behind red speaker grilles at the back corners of the Y40’s chassis. They have a significantly higher quality sound than the typical notebook with a pleasant mix of mids, highs, and lows. The sound is also more spacious than expected from small speakers; it adds another dimension to games and movies. We can see the Y40’s speaker setup entertaining a couple of people in a small room.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Y40 adheres to Lenovo’s tradition of using solid input devices in its computers. Its chiclet style keyboard has an excellent layout with all the keys we’d expect on a regular desktop keyboard. The keys have a pleasing feel with encouraging tactile feedback. The keyboard’s solid feel is helped further by the rigid keyboard tray. We noticed a small amount of flex around the JKL keys, but it didn’t affect the typing experience. Keypresses are quiet enough for use in any practical environment. Our only wish list item is backlighting, which is sadly unavailable; we’re not saying we want it standard, but it would be nice to see as an option.
The Y40 has a clickpad per the current trend. The clickpad is the right size for a 14-inch display and has a practical anti-glare surface for precise tracking. Lenovo has done a better job with the design of this clickpad relative to the clickpads on its other IdeaPads we’ve reviewed over the years. For one, the clicks are reasonably accurate and with muted sounds. The feedback is generally good, even though we noticed it takes more effort to produce a click at the top of the clickpad than at the bottom. Overall we have nearly all positive thoughts about both the keyboard and the clickpad.