First a little background, this is my 2nd Chromebook, my 1st was an Series 3 Samsung Chromebook (ARM based) that I brought out of curiosity about Chromebooks and over time I found the device to be a great bit of cheap tech. It was the device I had no worries about giving my young grand kids to play with when they visit and a fallback device at home.
Also, I have no problem with using Chrome OS so I knew what to expect with the Lenovo N20p OS wise, I actually find Chrome OS to be a breath of fresh air compared to Windows and OSX. I wanted to upgrade from the Samsung mainly for the advances in hardware as the Samsung Series 3’s main failing for me was is it’s speed.
Unboxing the N20p
From the off you realise that Lenovo hasn’t wasted any money on packaging! A plain brown Lenovo box, the Chromebook, a power cord, ac adapter and a folded piece of A3 instructions. Minimalistic or cheap? I will let you make up your own mind!
My 1st impression was the the N20p felt heavy, 3.1lbs compared to my old Samsung (2.43lbs) and even heavier than my 13” Macbook Air (2.96lbs) For an 11” device it felt a little odd at first, however within a few minutes I didn’t really notice the extra weight when actually using the device on my lap.
Build quality is good. In fact it’s very good. There have been no ‘creaks’ or flex of the plastic when opening the screen. The palm rests are equally as solid. The extra weight helps the device feel so much more sturdy than the outgoing Samsung, I really like the angular design and it all adds up to make it feel a much more premium product than what it actually costs. Yes it’s plastic, but it’s a very nice plastic!!! If asked to describe it in a few words, it’s a good-looking device, slim, chiselled and muscular (like myself ahem).
The screen resolution for an 11” Chromebook is ok at 1366 x 768, it’s the same resolution as my old Samsung but a great improvement in overall viewing quality, it’s a lot brighter and less washed out. The viewing angles are also better, the screen is glossy (Which I like) but fine for use in bright environments.
The glass 10 point touch-screen (Which contributes to the extra weight) was one of the things I wanted to experience from a Chrome OS view and I’ve been very impressed with it. The biggest surprise was It’s as responsive as my iPad when touched, it takes a little bit of mental retraining to remember it’s there but it’s actually more useful than I thought!
Dual mode or the ‘big hinge’ as I call it wasn’t a selling point for me originally. I could see that a 360 degree hinge (aka Lenovo Yoga) could have it’s uses turning your laptop into a sudo tablet however having a hinge only reach 300 degrees seemed a little… ‘meh’ Over the 1st few days I’m yet to actually use this feature unless it’s to show people who ask about it, I could see myself using it on the train to watch a movie in it’s ‘tent’ mode perhaps but I would have much preferred a 360 degree hinge. The hinge mechanism is a little ‘heavy’ requiring 2 hands to prise the laptop open, but I guess it’s needed if you rely on it to balance open.
Sound is better than what I expected from an 11 inch laptop, it’s fairly loud with sound coming from stereo speakers on the underneath front of the device, but I wouldn’t want to listen to much through them. This applies to ALL laptops I’ve ever owned, a cheap pair of headphones is a much more pleasurable experience!
Performance is good, the Intel Bay Trail N2830 2.16 GHz with 4GB ram (UK specification) and 16GB SSD seems to hit a sweet spot for me. It’s more than fast enough for my Internet usage, it boots fast and I’ve not experienced any slowdowns or blank tabs when swapping between them. It does feel a little warm on the lap (whilst charging) but it’s fan-less which was something I didn’t want to give up from the old Samsung. For those that care it scored 7767 on the Octane benchmark.
Keyboard and track-pad are pretty good also, I’ve noticed a few missed keys when typing but I attribute that to my adjustment to a new keyboard, the keys do feel pretty good to type on. The track-pad feels glass like and offers an ok experience so far, I am struggling a little with the ‘tap to click’ (My preferred setting) as it doesn’t always register my taps accurately. I find myself having to tap harder than I’m used to. Again this is probably more to do with my own muscle memory (using other devices) than the hardware itself. I am confident it will improve in time.
It seems very well equipped connectivity wise, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, HDMI mini output and a SD/MMC card reader. The card reader is a bit of a disappointment as the SD card will stick out by about 50% of it’s length, I was hoping for it to be flush with the casing so I could keep a card installed all the time for some extra storage space.
Battery life is estimated to be around 8 hours. I’ve not ran the battery down yet so I will leave this for now.
When I originally purchased my 1st Chromebook it was out of curiosity more than anything else, a 3rd computing device around the house, the device I gave the Grand kids when they visit, the device you turned to when the iPad keyboard was going to slow you down.
The Lenovo N20p however is a huge step up from the Samsung. It’s silent design tied with it’s performance and looks are amazing at this price. Build quality is better than expected and overall I think the N20p offers great value to money. I could actually see myself using it as my primary device for a lot of my needs, something I would never have said about my 1st Chromebook, perhaps the Grand kids will see a lot less of this new Chromebook and more of my iPad.