Lenovo N20P Chromebook Review – The Almost Chrome OS Tablet

Chromebooks are quickly growing in market share, and more and more manufacturers are joining in the party. It’s starting to get hard to decide which Chromebook to buy, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Choice is good, and today we will be looking at one of those choices with the Lenovo N20P Chromebook. I’ve been using it for the past month as my daily Chromebook and now it’s time to give you my thoughts on the device and whether or it’s worth your money.

Specs

  • 11.6” Inch 1366×768 Touch Screen Display



  • Intel Celeron N2830 Baytrail Processor – 2.16GHz

  • 16GB SSD Storage

  • 2GB DDR3 RAM

  • 2.9 Pounds

  • 802.11 a/c WiFi

  • 1x USB 2.0

  • 1x USB 3.0

  • Bluetooth 4.0

  • 3.5mm Headphone Jack

  • Mini-HDMI Out

  • SD Card Slot

Hardware

The hardware on the Lenovo N20P is not especially impressive, but it does look pretty nice and is built well. I never heard much creaking in the plastic and everything feels pretty solid. The hinge holding up the display is especially impressive and holds up the screen quite nicely. It does this because of the unique trick the N20P has, it is almost a convertible. By that I mean the screen flips around, just not all the way. It stops at about a 300 degree angle. You can use it like a regular laptop with the keyboard and trackpad, or you can flip it around and use it like a tablet on a stand with the touch screen.

What is that good for you might ask. Well, I found it most useful for watching movies/tv/YouTube, for Hangout calls, and for reading on the web or using social networks. Basically anytime you are not typing, the stand mode is pretty useful. If you want to use that mode and happen to need a keyboard, Chrome OS has a built in on-screen keyboard that will appear on screen when needed. Otherwise the machine feels pretty nice to use. My only complaints would be that the design is pretty bland without any accent colors or anything like that and that the bottom of the machine is a bit slick. While that might not affect everyone, it did for me. I like to use my Chromebook on my lap a lot of the time and to rest it on one leg. More than any other one I’ve tried, the N20P tended to move around quite a lot on my leg.

Display

Moving on from the hardware, let’s move to the display. The Lenovo N20P has an 11.6” inch display with a resolution of 1366×768, pretty much what we’ve come to expect with Chromebooks. So what was the experience? The display was very usable and I really didn’t notice the lack of resolution. The display got bright enough for any indoor use, but felt a bit dim for outdoor usage. That wasn’t helped by the fact that this display is glossy rather than matte. This is because we have a touch screen on this machine. The touch screen itself was fairly responsive, but not without it’s issues. Sometimes it wouldn’t register a light tap or would miss a keystroke if I was typing. However it definitely did it’s job well. Adding a touch screen adds a whole new layer to Chrome OS you never otherwise experience. Since you keep your settings and shortcuts at the bottom of the display, it just makes sense to reach up and tap them on the screen. I definitely found the touch screen useful. There’s one thing I couldn’t stand about this display however and that is the viewing angles. For a device with a screen like this, you would think the viewing angles would be a big concern, but unfortunately it seems the display gets pretty atrocious viewing angles. Colors are quickly washed out and it’s just not fun at all. I think that is probably the biggest overall flaw with this Chromebook.

Software & Performance

In the software department we are looking at Chrome OS. There is nothing changed in the software expect for the enhancements made to take advantage of the stand mode. For instance a task switcher appears in the bottom corner of the display to quickly switch back and forth between windows while using the touch screen and the on-screen keyboard is useful for those times you just want to use the touch screen. Everything is fairly fluid but it could definitely be improved. I’ve noticed more lag and crashes on this machine than on any other Chromebook I’ve tried. Even when compared to an Acer C720 with the same amount of RAM, I notice more slow-downs with the N20P. I believe that this is due largely to the Baytrail generation processor inside. While it is fanless, you’ll have to decide if that is worth the slow down you’ll likely experience compared to a Haswell generation chip. Many bugs were associated when switching into the stand mode from the laptop mode. Somehow came completely at random. This is something I’ve never experienced with Chrome OS, so it really surprised me.

While the main software has bugs, how’s the general web browsing experience? Well, it’s a bit hit and miss. Streaming videos was surprisingly good, but content heavy pages like Google+ and Facebook had some stuttering especially when scrolling. This machine will handle most general web browsing, but it does have it’s limits. This is one of the machines you’ll definitely need to keep your tab count low on.

Battery Life

This is the savior for just about every Chromebook. The battery. Almost every Chromebook available gets great battery life, and the N20P is no different. I had no issues getting through a day or two, or even three with this machine. Stand by time was impressive and so was usage time. I could go two or three hours using the machine at once with little impact on the battery. It will undoubtedly get you through a day, if not more.

Keyboard & Trackpad

The keyboard and the trackpad are important on every laptop, and the Lenovo N20P does a great job in this area. Keys are well spaced and very tactile making for a very nice typing experience. Each key is shaped slightly different from what we see on other Chromebooks and laptops, but it didn’t affect my typing speed at all. I had no problems adjusting to this keyboard from my HP 14 Chromebook. The trackpad is also very nice providing a nice click that isn’t too loud or too quiet. My only complaint here is that some two or three finger gestures sometimes get missed.

Speakers, Microphone, & Camera

I’ll be honest, the speakers on the N20P aren’t very impressive. They don’t get super loud, and the quality isn’t great. They aren’t the worst out there, but they are by no means the best. The microphone is very good however providing good quality sound for activities like Hangout calls. The on-board webcam is the same story. It’s not great, but not extremely bad. It’s not very crisp as I noticed not too good quality. If you are looking for a good webcam for video calling, look elsewhere.

Video Review

Final Thoughts – Should You Buy It?

The Lenovo N20P is one of Lenovo’s first steps into the consumer Chrome OS market, and it’s a pretty decent offering. It has a unique design that will no doubt appeal to anyone who wants more than just a laptop and it offers a portable design. So should you get it? That depends. If this form factor absolutely calls your name and you just have to have it, then yes. Otherwise, the answer is a resounding no. The product just feels a bit half-baked to me and at $330, I feel like other Chromebook offers are much better for less money. Looking at everything, I give this device a rating of 6.8 out of 10. If you do decide to get one, make sure it has 4GB of RAM at least.

Profile PictureBen Schoon Ben is the Editor-In-Chief of iTechTriad and writes the majority of content found on it. He loves all things technology, but with a sweet spot for Android devices. Catch him hanging out mainly on Google+ or in front of any nearby screen playing Doctor Who.
Daily Drivers: LG G3, Moto 360