Lenovo Thinkpad 13 Chromebook review – A consumer-grade USB C Chromebook

Chromebook can be amazing, but just like any product line, there are some that suck and some that rock. This Lenovo one (that I’m currently typing this review on) rocks my socks allllll the way off.

Lenovo has been in the computing world for many years and is notable for many different things, including the amazing Yoga (Windows) computers and the relatively recent purchase of Motorola. They’ve even made some other Chromebooks, albeit some rather unremarkable ones, but this one will break the mold, for some.

Here is the Lenovo Thinkpad 13 Chromebook, the best Chromebook from the company and one of the better ones you can get today.



First off let’s take a look and the specs that the Thinkpad 13 holds. Remember, specs from Chromebooks will differ from that or traditional Mac and Windows computers due to the fact that their operating system is essentially an advanced web browser.

Processor
  • Intel® Core™ i5-6300U Processor
  • Intel® Core™ i3-6100U Processor
  • Intel® Celeron® 3855U Processor
Operating System Chrome OS
Graphics Intel® Integrated Graphics
Webcam 720p Camera
Memory Up to 8 GB LPDDR3, 1600 MHz
Storage 16 GB / 32 GB EMMC
Battery Up to 10 Hours (42 WHr)
Display
  • 13.3″ HD (1366 x 768) TN, 200 nits
  • 13.3″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, 220 nits
  • 13.3″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, Touch (coming soon)
Dimensions (W x D x H)
  • (inches) : 12.68″ x 8.78″ x 0.78″
  • (mm) : 322 x 223 x 19.8
Weight Starting at 3.2 lbs (1.4 kg)
I/O (Input/Output) Ports
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB Type-C
  • 3.5 mm Headphone / Microphone
WiFi AC/B/G/N
Bluetooth® Bluetooth® 4.0

Except for the quality of the webcam (maybe) and the quality of the display, the Thinkpad’s specs are pretty overkill for the Chromebook market. Not often do you see 8GBs of RAM or 32GBs of storage in most anymore, and that’s not a complaint. All that means is that you’re Chromebook will be one of the best out there. And then USB C?! I’ll talk about that later.

Outside of all the numbers and components, the Thinkpad 13 looks just like any other computer in Lenovo’s Thinkpad lineup, and honestly, that’s the only downfall to this machine — or at least the main one. The design of this Chromebook is utilitarian and business-like in nature. You won’t be getting any compliments on how your computer looks when you take it to Starbucks in the morning to do some work (like I could on my Macbook). It doesn’t make that much of a difference unless you’re one of those people that care how things look — I’m one of those people.

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It’s just a big black box, sharp corners and all, but at least it’s sturdy — I may have accidentally ‘did a drop test’ on it. The display is also a more matte display instead of glossy, so even when you open it up, no you won’t have as much glare, but it won’t look as pretty as well. From the amount that you’ll spend on this, I feel like Lenovo should have modeled this computer on their Yoga series instead.

The one thing you’ll notice missing from the traditional Thinkpad series is the classic red trackball in the middle of the keyboard. You get a very smooth keyboard design that’s also evenly space, except there’s no backlight and a sizable trackpad. There’s also Lenovo, Chrome OS, Thinkpad, and Intel branding all around.

Now as I’ve mentioned before, many times, the Thinkpad 13 runs Chrome OS which could be another review on it’s on describing the pros and cons of that operating system so that I won’t delve too much here on it. I will say though that the Thinkpad 13 is on the list yet to be able to use Android apps on it just yet — what are you waiting for Lenovo? Other than that it’s the same ol’ Chrome OS that many people would know and love if they gave it a chance.

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One of the main extra features that makes the Thinkpad 13  a step above the rest, and that’s USB type C. Not only that but the Thinkpad has 2 USB C ports, along with a 2 USB 3.0 ports. Now you can start getting into the USB C ecosystem but not have to do everything cold turkey. With USB C you can charge the Chromebook using either port, although one is denoted as the main charging port. You can charge it with a battery pack or you can use the port for video/audio passthrough. It’s just great seeing more computers start to include the technology while making sure to have enough ports (looking at you Apple) and still having access to old technologies.

Speaking of multiple ways to charge and actually being able to use a battery pack to charge the Thinkpad, let’s talk about battery life. Lenovo quotes around 10 hours of battery life for the Thinkpad 13, and I’d definitely have to agree. I’ve never had a problem of battery life on this computer, the only time I had was when I gambled that it’d still be alive after not charging for a week, BUT LUCKILY I had a battery pack and my Nexus 6P’s cable on me so, power! Of course things like display brightness and having Bluetooth and such will affect battery times, but you shouldn’t have any complaints when it comes to the battery life.

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Now here’s where the other potentially down points come into play. Most Chromebooks come in around $200 – $350 in cost. The Thinkpad 13 starts at $430 and can cost all the way up to $940 — that’s with the Intel Core i5, 8Gb RAM, 32Gb SSD, and 1080p display upgrades. That’s a bit costly for a just a Chromebook, just for comparison’s sake that’s almost the price for the 13” Macbook air.

The version of the Thinkpad 13 that I received was the low-end model which included the 768p display, Intel Celeron processor (mostly likely), 4GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. I didn’t experience many hiccups during most of my use, although I know what a Chromebook is capable of handling. I wasn’t trying to video edit or anything major, but I was able to view media, listen to music, and browse web pages. Even waking the computer from sleep and immediately starting on work was no bother for the Chromebook to handle.

Ultimately, I think the Lenovo Thinkpad 13 is one of the best Chromebooks you can buy at the moment (excluding the Pixels), but it may cost you. If you’re thinking more about using a fast and light machine, that can begin to prepare you for the future; then the Thinkpad is the way to go.

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