Lenovo N20p Chromebook review

8 Nov 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
200
inc VAT
Buy it now for 

The Lenovo N20p is a cheap and flexible Chromebook with great battery life, but the keyboard is a letdown

Specifications

Processor: Dual-core 2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2830, RAM: 4GB, Size: 295x212x17.9mm, Weight: 1.3kg, Screen size: 11.6in, Screen resolution: 1,366x768, Graphics adaptor: Intel HD Graphics, Total storage: 16GB SSD

The Lenovo N20p Chromebook has a flexible screen hinge, meaning you can rotate the screen 300 degrees. This lets you stand it in 'tent' mode, so you can watch films more comfortably. As you can't reach the keyboard, Chrome OS has an on-screen model that allows you to type without the need for the physical keyboard.

You might be tempted to do so, because the built-in keyboard is extremely poor. There's nowhere near enough travel in the keys, meaning typing soon becomes tiresome. Even worse, unless you hit the keys dead centre, they won't register your press, which means missed keystrokes will be a frustratingly regular occurrence for many typists. It's a shame, because the rest of the device is fairly impressive. It feels well made (aside from the keyboard) and is impressively thin and light.

We enjoyed being able to use the touchscreen to scroll through web pages and tap on hyperlinks, and makes a change from the sometimes wearisome effort of using a touchpad. The screen itself is average and performs almost identically to every other Chromebook screen we've seen.

It's has a 1,366x768 panel that uses TN technology. It's not the brightest of screens and its colour coverage is average at best, able to cover 64.5 per cent of the sRGB gamut in our tests. Its 298:1 contrast ratio and high 0.72cd/m2 black levels don't make for particularly rich or pleasing images, but it's acceptable for basic web tasks.

The N20p Chromebook is powered by a dual-core 2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2830 processor. When required, it can increase its clock speed to 2.41GHz. It's not a powerful chip, but it's perfectly competent when paired with 4GB of RAM, while Chrome OS doesn't require powerful components. You'll be able to do all the basic web-based tasks possible on a conventional, Windows-powered laptop including surfing image-heavy websites, writing documents and binging on Netflix.

It's not completely smooth, and some pages may take a few seconds to render correctly, but we found it to be oar for the course at this price point. Chrome OS isn't compatible with our multimedia benchmarking tests, we used the Sunspider JavaScript benchmark to get a read on how well it handles web-based challenges. Lower scores are better, and the N20p Chromebook managed 545ms, making it slightly slower than other Chromebooks that we've tested.

Chrome OS doesn't support traditional Windows Desktop applications, so if you're moving to this operating system for the first time, you'll need to consider whether there's any Windows software that you couldn't live without. Before eliminating Chrome OS entirely, you should also check to see if there are web-based alternatives available. For example, Adobe is beginning to make its Photoshop software available to Chrome OS users by running the software virtually, in the Cloud.

To get the most out of the Chromebook you will need to commit to Google's Cloud Ecosystem. To help start you off, all Chromebook buyers get 100GB of Google Drive storage for two years. You also get access to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides as well as Gmail, so your basic desktop tasks are already covered. Your legacy Microsoft Office, OpenOffice and LibreOffice files can be uploaded to Google Drive and you can edit them from Google Docs, Sheets and Slides without having to convert them, although your experience may vary depending on how your documents are formatted. There's also a very limited array of Android apps available for Chrome OS, but there are surely more to come.

If you want to use the N20p Chromebook like a traditional Windows laptop, you can transfer files from USB sticks and SD cards directly on to the small 16GB SSD if you prefer, but you'll soon run out of space if you try to use this device as if it were a standard laptop. The N20p Chromebook's battery has extreme endurance, managing to last 8h 55m in our rundown test, giving it the best score of any Chromebook we've tested so far.

Overall, though, it's hard to recommend this laptop because of its lamentable keyboard. As the primary input method, it's just not good enough. We'd strongly recommend popping into a shop and trying the keyboard for yourself to ensure that these problems won't affect you. If the keyboard suits you, then this is a good choice. Otherwise, consider the Toshiba Chromebook CB30-102 or the Acer C720. If you want a proper Windows laptop instead, the Asus Transformer Book T200TA is a great convertible model with a touchscreen, for the same price.

Core specs
Processor Dual-core 2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2830
RAM 4GB
Memory slots (free) 2 (0)
Max memory 4GB
Size 295x212x17.9mm
Weight 1.3kg
Sound Not stated (3.5mm headset port)
Pointing device Touchpad
Display
Screen size 11.6in
Screen resolution 1,366x768
Touchscreen Yes
Graphics adaptor Intel HD Graphics
Graphics outputs Micro HDMI
Graphics memory Shared
Storage
Total storage 16GB SSD
Optical drive type None
Ports and expansion
USB ports 1x USB3 1xUSB2
Bluetooth Yes
Networking 802.11ac Wi-Fi
Memory card reader SD, SDXC, MMC, Memory Stick
Other ports None
Miscellaneous
Operating system Chrome OS
Operating system restore option Restore partition
Buying information
Parts and labour warranty One-year RTB
Price inc VAT £200
Details www.lenovo.com
Supplier www.argos.com
Part number N20p Chrome 20425

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