The concept of a Chromebook has always intrigued me, and as more and more wi-fi hotspots are popping up all around me these days, I’ve been more and more interested in picking one up. Prior to this review I haven’t used them, but having something as simplistic as a Chromebook has always seemed like a fantastic idea for those who are looking for casual, or student oriented use, without having to deal with all of the hoopla with a full Windows or Mac operating system. Sometimes, less is just more and in this case you get more of almost everything.
I work primarily off of my desktop computer. The device basically serves every purpose I need, working on it, using it to keep tabs on Facebook, and my desktop is my go-to gaming rig. I do all my 3D animation and video editing on my desktop and it functions as my media server. I’ve been very familiar with Lenovo products in the past, I have a Lenovo Windows 8 laptop, but it’s growing out of date and isn’t as portable as the newer models.
With a powerful desktop on-hand, I don’t need an equally powerful laptop. That’s really why the Chromebook is such a great fit, it’s a simple web, e-mail, online-media and social media machine. It’s a perfect option to take with me into the living room where I can send out a few e-mails, talk about my kids on Facebook, or maybe try to write an article or two if grubby toddler hands don’t thwart my plans.
With this being my first entry into the Chromebook series, I should put out a disclaimer that my infatuation with the N20p is enhanced by how I much I enjoyed the Chromebook experience.
At 11.6” and weighing at just 2.8 lbs, the N20p is light and super thin, yet it never feels cheap. I’ve dealt with many devices in the past that also fit the light and thin description, but those devices always felt like they were going to break if I so much as sneezed on them. The N20p does not suffer from this. It is sturdy, snaps open and shut with no wobbling at the hinges, and when I move the unit around there is no creaking or popping from connection points. Kudos to Lenovo for a sturdy product.
Much like their Yoga line, the N20p features a dual-mode design (the Yoga has four modes). You can use it as a normal laptop with the keyboard, or you can fold the screen back and rest the N20p on the keyboard itself. This allows you to use the N20p’s touchscreen like you would a tablet. Nothing too fancy, but it’s nice to have the option of propping the Chromebook up a different way, more so for online-media. Sometimes a different angle makes all the difference in having enough space or not.
The N20p supports an Intel Celeron N2839 processor running the Google Chrome OS with Integrated Intel Graphics. The model I tested had a display that ran 1366×768 w/10-point multi-touch. There is 16GB storage, 2GB DDR3L RAM, a 720p camera, Stereo Speakers and it supported Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 a/c WiFi and had two USB ports (USB 3.0, USB 2.0) and an audio combo jack, Mini-HDMI and 2-in-1 card reader port.
These read-off more like tablet specs than generic laptop specs, but considering the purpose of a Chromebook, it’s gets the job done just fine. Google Chrome OS is an incredibly fast and snappy operating system, with fast boot times and very little lag, so the it required far less power to run efficiently than a PC with Windows or a Mac. The only time I experienced any hiccups was when I had a lot of tabs open in Chrome, I believe I had something like 14 tabs open at the time, so well outside the general use to be fair to Lenovo. The OS also features integrated browser security and auto-updates to ensure that you are always up to date.
Because everything is tied to your Google Account, the N20p (and Chromebooks in general) work best if you are an existing Google device user, such as someone who uses an Android phone. I use Chrome as my main browser on my desktop, and I have a Droid RAZR MAXX HD phone, a NVIDIA SHIELD, and a Nexus 7. As soon as I signed in with my Google account on the N20p, everything was synced and ready to go. There was virtually no setup involved (other than choosing a desktop background). As soon as I fired up the N20p, I had my Google Now notifications in the upper right hand corner, and all of my bookmarks were ready to rock in the browser the moment I signed on. Simplicity and convenience at its best.
The one thing that I suspect will turn a lot of traditional Windows/Mac users off is the fact that the Chromebook is an online optimized device. With 16GB of storage, it doesn’t have a “hard drive,” per se, but since you won’t really be downloading programs to the device and how the Chromebook utilizes online storage, it’s not an issue.
The N20p utilizes Google’s app ecosystem, so your word processing and spreadsheet programs will be done using Google Docs/Sheets, and your “storage” will be handled via Google Drive. The onboard storage is nice for instances where you might want to download a picture or upload or something similar to that, but it will not allow for any type of mass storage beyond that.
While you are able to use many apps offline (such as Gmail and Drive), the true functionality of the Chromebook won’t be realized until you are signed-into wi-fi, at that time you are free to use anything in the Chrome Web Store. With that being said, you’re kind of at the mercy of having a constant wifi connection when using the N20p, though that is less a “fault” of the N20p and more something that all Chromebook devices are designed to do.
Again I want to point out that unless you’re deep in the woods somewhere, you will most likely have very little issues finding wifi, and at home you should never have an issue. Chromebooks are popular amongst students and if you’re waltzing around your campus, you should have no issues getting online at any location at any major school.
I found the Lenovo N20p is a perfect little Chromebook device for daily needs. As long as you’re not looking to do anything too resource intensive, the N20p is a fast, convenient, and easy to use device. Without any of the intensive tasks associated with running a traditional desktop operating system, the N20p boots up in just seconds and for the most part, runs smoothly and without lag.
Lenovo’s hardware design is also pleasing, as the N20p is well built, attractive, and extremely portable and lightweight. At $329, the N20p is not the cheapest Chromebook on the block, but it’s certainly one of the best.
more info: amazon.com