Lenovo charges $349.00 for the Chromebook S345. You shouldn’t expect technical marvels for this, but a durable office notebook.
Specifications Lenovo Chromebook S345 Review 2021
Display 35.56 cm (14 in) matte, 1920x1080px, 60 Hz refresh rate, TN
processor AMD A6-9220C (2x 2.1 – 2.70 GHz, 1 MB cache)
graphic Radeon R5
random access memory 4 GB LPDDR4 (onboard, not expandable)
hard disk 64 GB eMMC
network Wi-Fi 5 (802.11 ac)Bluetooth 4.1
connections 2x USB 3.2 Type-A Gen 1
2x USB 3.2 (Type-C) Gen 1
1 x microSD
card reader 1 x 3.5mm headphone and microphone jack
security Device for Kensington lock
battery pack 3 cell lithium-ion battery, up to 10 hours running time45W charger
Backlit keyboard Touchpad with multi-touch gesture support
HD 720p webcam
Sound Audio system with two speakers
Dimensions 32.8 x 22.5 x 1.77 cm (W x D x H)
Weight 1.48 kg
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Design & processing
The design is simple and you won’t find excessive decorative stuff. There are two small Lenovo logos on the body and the display lid. And there is also chrome lettering on the display lid. The colored Chrome logo is the only color accent on this notebook. Lenovo uses matte plastic as the material. This gives the Chromebook S345 solid robustness (it can only be bent with a lot of effort) and high resistance to fingerprints. They can hardly be seen and if they do, they can be easily wiped off again.
Lenovo Chromebook S345 Review
The workmanship is typical for Lenovo: flawless. All parts fit, nothing creaks or crunches or wobbles where it shouldn’t wobble. The few gaps are pleasantly even. There is absolutely nothing to complain about.
The display bezels are wide for today’s standards, but that is not to be expected otherwise with a notebook in this price range. The webcam is housed in the upper frame. If you want to use them, you should pay attention to good lighting. Otherwise, you will get pixel mud. You should avoid backlighting in any case.
Lenovo Chromebook S345
The display hinges are pleasantly stiff. You can’t open the Chromebook S345 with one hand, but that’s a completely overrated feature in my opinion. The display mustn’t wobble even if you use the one-finger search and hack system on the keyboard. To get the display to shake, you have to shake the table properly. Everything else doesn’t care.
The keyboard sits in a small recess. The keys have a very short journey and are too spongy for my taste. You have to get used to them. Not only because the keyboard offers a soft typing experience, but also because keys such as CTRL are sometimes larger, because the Windows key, for example, is missing. The same applies to the assignment of the function keys. It is different from a Windows computer. After a few texts for rehearsal, longer texts are no problem either. Unfortunately, there is no keyboard backlight.
Lenovo Chromebook keypad
The trackpad sits in the middle in front of the keyboard and is sufficient for occasional use. It responds usefully and has no dead corners. So you can use the entire width for gestures. But I still connected a Bluetooth mouse very quickly. Navigation simply ran faster and more precisely. The input devices fully correspond to what can be expected in this price range.
Lenovo Chromebook S345 mousepad
Many and versatile connections
There are plenty of connections on the Chromebook S345. A total of four USB ports are available, all with the 3.2 Gen 1 standard and thus a 5 Gbps maximum transfer rate.
Lenovo Chromebook S345 ports
On the left side, you will find a USB-C port, a USB-A port, a 3.5mm combo connector, and a microSD card reader. The latter is not the fastest under the sun but is completely sufficient in everyday life. Since the internal memory of 64 GB is tight, you should consider using the microSD card reader for permanent memory expansion. If you prefer to use the cloud to save your data, you have 15 GB of free storage space in your Google account. You can purchase additional storage space via Google One.
Chromebook S345 Review
On the right side, there is the socket for the Kensington lock, another USB-C port, and the second USB-A port.
The Chromebook S345 is charged with USB-C. It doesn’t matter which of the two ports you connect the 45-watt charger too. I think one thing is really good: Both USB-C ports support DisplayPort. This gives you free choice when it comes to setting up your monitor on your desk. You can connect it on either side. This flexibility does not exist everywhere.
Lenovo specifies a maximum brightness of 220 nits. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a Spyder on hand during the test period to measure it. But the information should be more or less correct. The brightness is sufficient for working indoors. Occasional trips outside are also possible. In this case, however, you should make sure that you rest in a shady area if possible. Then you can still recognize screen contents usefully. However, you should completely avoid direct sunlight. The display cannot outshine that.
The display is also not suitable for color-critical work. The coverage of the sRGB color space should be around 50%, that of the more extensive AdobeRGB color space 40-45%. Easily optimizing photos for social media is no problem. If you need exact colors, the display is not suitable.
The 14 “display has a Full HD resolution and that means that your content is displayed nicely and sharply. It is a TN panel, so you have to expect color shifts here if you look at it from the side. In everyday office life, however, this is no longer tragic.
Chromebooks have long been said to be weak boxes. And rightly so. You don’t get strong hardware with the S345 either. But it is completely sufficient for the intended purposes. Chrome OS is an operating system that does a lot out of weak hardware.
The AMD A6-9220C processor was introduced in 2019 and is not one of the most powerful CPUs from AMD. Its performance is slightly higher than that of an Intel Pentium N4200. It is supported by 4 GB of RAM. And what does that mean in understandable German?
The performance is sufficient for all office tasks. Google Docs runs smoothly, as does Google Sheets. However, you should avoid extremely extensive tables. The system also runs smoothly in other respects. Different apps start smoothly and even image processing, for example with Snapseed, runs smoothly. Photoshop Express, on the other hand, ticks off now and then. Surfing with Chrome was not a problem at all and opening tabs excessively did not slow down performance either.
I would have loved to try video editing, but I couldn’t find any app that supports the Chromebook S345.
So far so good. Now let’s get to the downside of performance. Gambling is canceled because it “is not”. You can get tarmac to run, but it’s so jerky that it’s not fun. Put in a round of PUBG? I tried. I never got into a fight though. Whenever the Chromebook finished loading, the battle was over for me.
The AMD A6 has a power consumption of 6 watts. That’s not a lot, and that’s positive in this context. Because the low power consumption allows fanless operation thanks to passive cooling. So you won’t hear the Chromebook when it’s in use. This is an advantage in environments such as a university library.
Lenovo Chromebook S345 Review
According to Lenovo, the battery should last up to ten hours. That works out pretty well too. I lost about 10% of the charge per hour when the display brightness was fully turned up. So it is easily possible to spend a working day without a power socket.
The operating system is Chrome OS. This is very similar to Android. So if you have/had an Android smartphone, you will find your way around immediately. The Google Play Store is available for apps. However, not all apps support Chrome OS, so you may have to look around for alternatives to your smartphone apps. We have written an overview of the first steps in Chrome OS for you. Read it through if you have no experience with it. Chrome OS is simple and you will find your way around it quickly.
The core of Chrome OS is that the data is stored online. So you can work anywhere you have WiFi. Since there is unfortunately still no nationwide WLAN everywhere in Germany, e.g. on regional trains, the offline mode is a useful extension of Chrome OS. With it, you can save your music on the Chromebook or play it offline. Mails and other office tasks also go offline, of course.
You shouldn’t make any great demands on the sound. The speakers sit on the bottom and produce a thin sound.
Even at half-volume, they sound tinny and high-pitched. Depths can only be recognized in rudiments. If you turn up the volume, then of course it does not improve. The heights are then partly clinking.
Lenovo Chromebook sound
However, the quality is sufficient for the ubiquitous zoom or team calls. Speech is output properly.
You should either connect proper speakers or headphones for a good sound. That works without any problems via Bluetooth or jack.
Upgrade: easy to open, little to do
Upgrading is only possible to a limited extent. You can neither get to the RAM nor the memory. When you have loosened the nine Phillips screws on the back, you can simply remove the base plate. You may need an old pick, a disused credit card, or something similar – I was able to pry out the record so easily.
If the battery gives up the ghost in the distant future, then you can swap it. It is only fixed with a couple of screws. The WiFi module can also be exchanged.
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Conclusion Lenovo Chromebook S345 Review 2021: Inexpensive office laptop
Is it worth buying the Chromebook S345? The honest answer is: it depends. If you are looking for a laptop with which you can write texts and create tables and which can get through the day without a socket, then you can buy the Chromebook S345 with a clear conscience. The price of $349.00 is pretty much unbeatable at the moment.
Occasional image editing with Snapseed is also not a problem. The Chromebook from Lenovo is not suitable for further or even professional image processing. Both the hardware and the display set limits here.
The Chromebook S345 is an office notebook in the truest sense of the word. It is made for this purpose and it delivers here. It is not suitable for everyone who has more extensive use cases.