Great Chromebook if you can get it on sale

Chrome OS has come a great distance lately and has graduated past the working system (OS) of alternative for low-end, price range {hardware} to being featured on some frankly very good laptops. Lenovo’s new and ridiculously named ThinkPad C13 Yoga Gen 1 Chromebook falls in that latter class, for higher and worse.

The C13 Yoga is, on the floor, a great-looking machine. It is available in a superb navy-like ‘Abyss Blue’ color and sports activities a 360-degree hinge so customers can simply rework it right into a pill if they need. It encompasses a touchscreen and built-in stylus, Nintendo DS-style, two cameras and a bunch of ports.

I got here away from the C13 Yoga pleasantly stunned by how a lot I appreciated the {hardware}. Sadly, Chrome OS stays a deeply irritating expertise (though I’ll admit, it’s a lot better now) and there are some arguably deadly flaws with the Lenovo Chromebook.

Specs

The Abyss Blue color seems nice, however can be irritating to maintain clear.

  • Show: 13.3-inch FHD 1920 x 1080 pixel decision IPS touchscreen, 300 nits brightness, 72% color gamut, anti-glare
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 Professional 3500C
  • Reminiscence: 8GB
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 307.56 x 212.1mm / 0.61 x 12.11 x 8.35-inches
  • Weight: Begins at 1.5kg/3.3lbs
  • Digicam: 720p HD webcam with privateness cowl, elective 5MP world-facing digicam
  • Working System: Chrome OS
  • Battery: 51Wh, as much as 12.5 hours
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5
  • Sensors: Fingerprint sensor
  • Ports: 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Kind-A, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Kind-C, HDMI 2.0, MicroSD card reader, headphone/mic jack
  • Graphics: Built-in AMD Radeon graphics

Notice: The above specs pertain particularly to my evaluation unit. You can view a full spec record for all variations of the C13 Yoga Gen 1 right here.

Stable design

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Gen 1 lying flat

The C13 Yoga’s aluminum chassis makes for one of many sturdiest laptops I’ve used shortly. It’s proper up there with Microsoft’s Floor Laptops and Apple’s MacBooks by way of construct high quality. Significantly, this factor feels tremendous strong, and I’ve no issues about sturdiness right here. Granted, the aluminum chassis does have some heft to it, however because of its small dimension, it’s a really manageable machine.

Whether or not the load is an issue for you actually comes all the way down to how you typically use the machine. Those that will use the C13 Yoga as a typical laptop computer doubtless gained’t discover the load, however I do suppose it could also be a bit too heavy to make use of as a pill. On the similar time, the versatile 360-degree hinge can mitigate that — as an alternative of holding it like a pill to binge some Netflix, you might put it in ‘tent mode’ or another configuration so you don’t want to carry it in any respect.

The Abyss Blue color can also be wonderful, and it makes for a really sleek-looking machine, though fingerprints and smudges can be a ache to take away. Positive, it’s not the thinnest laptop computer I’ve ever used, however it’s not double-caked like your typical gaming laptop computer both.

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Gen 1 stylus

All this provides as much as a laptop computer that feels pretty high-quality, which is nice contemplating the value tag. In response to Lenovo Canada’s web site, the C13 Yoga begins at $1,169 with an AMD Athalon Gold 3150C and 4GB of RAM, whereas the evaluation unit I examined has an AMD Ryzen 5 Professional 3500C and 8GB of RAM and prices $1,569. There are different choices, ranging as much as a prime worth simply shy of $2,000 — it’s so much to spend on a Chromebook, however I’ll get extra into that in the direction of the tip.

The opposite factor price noting right here is that Lenovo’s web site displayed a particular e-coupon below every config of the C13 Yoga that knocked the value down by $400 to $500, which a typical apply with the corporate. The digital coupon brings the bottom C13 Yoga all the way down to a extra cheap $760, however I’d argue nonetheless a bit a lot for the specs you get.

Not a fan of the side-mounted buttons pattern

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Gen 1 side buttons

Whereas I’m typically a fan of the C13 Yoga’s design, it’s certainly one of many laptops leaping on the side-mounted button bandwagon. In idea, it’s a terrific concept — placing the buttons on the facet makes them a lot simpler to entry if you use the machine like a pill. However I typically discover myself turning the laptop computer sideways to seek out the buttons.

It’s a small level, however I feel most individuals who use the C13 Yoga primarily as a laptop computer can have the identical challenge. A part of the issue is that the buttons are arduous to differentiate by really feel. Most smartphones, for instance, texture the facility button so folks can simply discover them. The C13 Yoga’s buttons sit flush with the chassis. The amount rocker has one marking that you can really feel, a raised ‘+’ image, however that’s it.

“I discover that 16:9 display doesn’t adapt as properly for these functions, however it works properly for some actions, like media consumption.”

Whereas we’re speaking concerning the sides of the laptop computer, Lenovo actually went all-out with ports. The C13 Yoga sports activities two USB-A ports, a microSD slot, two USB-C ports and an HDMI port. The laptop computer expenses by USB-C too, which is a bit annoying if you have to cost and plug in USB-C gadgets on the similar time, however it was actually fairly uncommon that I had to try this.

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Gen 1 camera shutter

A last notice concerning the design is that Lenovo positioned two cameras on the machine, one above the keyboard and the opposite above the display. For individuals who get pleasure from taking photos with tablets, the second keyboard digicam is a good add.

Lenovo likes so as to add bodily privateness shutters to its laptop computer cameras, which is nice — and may avoid wasting folks from having to place tape over their digicam. The identical is true with the C13 Yoga, however oddly there’s solely a privateness shutter on the webcam. Granted, if somebody had been to try to spy by way of the keyboard digicam, they’d largely get my ceiling and perhaps a little bit of my face relying on how I’m sitting. Nonetheless, it looks as if a foolish omission.

Mediocre show doesn’t stun, however works properly

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Gen 1 in tent mode

Until you fork out almost $2,000 for the top-line C13 Yoga, which comes with a 13.3-inch UHD OLED panel, you’ll get a FHD, 1080 x 1920 pixel decision IPS show. It’s nothing thrilling, however it is purposeful and that’s actually all I can ask for.

Lenovo additionally stored the bezels to an affordable thickness aside from alongside the underside the place there’s a strong inch of largely unused area (if you ignore the C13 Yoga emblem). Granted, a few of this area might be used for the display’s internals and a few of it is clearly used for the hinges that join the display and physique, however I’d hoped to see extra of it used than what truly is.

There’s been a pattern this yr of laptops transferring to 16:10 facet ratios, and even 3:2. These provide extra vertical area, which can be a blessing when working on paperwork or if you need to function home windows wide-by-side on your machine.

I discover that 16:9 display doesn’t adapt as properly for these functions, however it works properly for some actions, like media consumption. Whether or not you desire the standard 16:9 or would moderately have a taller display, it’d be good if Lenovo made some higher use of area.

Hit-and-miss efficiency

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Gen 1

I, sadly, haven’t had a lot expertise with AMD-powered laptops. Except for the superb Floor Laptop computer 4, which boasts a customized Ryzen chip, I simply haven’t had an opportunity to check many AMD laptops.

Given how good the Laptop computer 4 was, I used to be trying ahead to testing the C13 Yoga, which sports activities AMD Ryzen CPUs — the variant I reviewed had a Ryzen 5 3500C. To be honest, I didn’t count on the 3500C to return near the customized Ryzen {hardware} included in Floor Laptops, however I did count on somewhat higher than what I received.

The C13 Yoga was typically not a quick machine. It’s been some time since I’ve needed to usually look forward to net pages to load. Scrolling round is jittery, and worse, typing typically locks up and stutters, particularly in longer paperwork. I’m tempted to put among the blame on the toes of Chrome, which is notoriously useful resource hungry. Nevertheless, Chrome OS is actually simply Chrome with layers of Linux and Android working alongside it and I hoped it would have been higher.

Consider it or not, whereas scripting this part of the evaluation in a Google Doc, Chrome’s reminiscence use ballooned to nearly half of the 8GB of RAM I had on this machine, a lot of it coming from the tab for this doc. Shortly after checking the Chrome OS process supervisor to see what was going on, the tab crashed (because of auto-save, I didn’t lose quite a lot of phrases).

Except for Chrome, the Play Retailer and the few Android apps I attempted had been additionally moderately sluggish and jittery. Shopping across the OS, nonetheless, remained snappy quick even when different apps had been slowed down.

Nevertheless, like with different Ryzen gadgets I’ve examined, plugging within the charger drums up a substantial efficiency increase. Scrolling was manner smoother each in Chrome and different apps, web page hundreds had been quicker and all the pieces typically felt extra responsive.

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Gen 1 benchmarks

The C13 Yoga scored considerably higher when plugged into the charger.

The Ryzen 5 3500C didn’t benchmark significantly properly, though I used to be restricted to working the Android model of GeekBench 5 since I couldn’t appear to persuade Chrome OS’ built-in Linux portion to put in some other benchmarking software program. To be honest, that was doubtless consumer error greater than a fault of Chrome OS.

The C13 Yoga scored 555 factors in single-core and 2095 factors in multi-core, making it the lowest-scoring laptop computer I’ve benchmarked this yr. In actual fact, a number of telephones I’ve benchmarked this yr scored higher, together with the Floor Duo, which was lambasted for utilizing an previous Snapdragon chipset (and rightly so given the value Microsoft charged!). When plugged into the charger, the C13 Yoga carried out higher with scores of 870 and a pair of,915 respectively — sufficient to place it over the Duo however to not carry it consistent with different laptops I’ve examined this yr.

Battery life isn’t nice, however it’s nonetheless good

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Gen 1 ports

Frankly, the middling efficiency makes this mannequin troublesome to suggest and, as a domino impact, makes the extra reasonably priced variants even worse. The cheaper choices all have lower-tier processors, and if the Ryzen 5 3500C struggled whereas on battery energy, I count on the cheaper choices will probably be even worse. On the similar time, going as much as the costlier C13 Yoga with a 4K show features a extra highly effective Ryzen 7 3700C, however I fear that the added pressure of 4K could hinder any efficiency increase the higher chip brings (however, I haven’t examined it myself and can’t say for sure).

Lastly, there’s one thing to be mentioned for a laptop computer that performs considerably worse when unplugged from the charger. It’s a transportable machine in any case — being tied to an outlet to get essentially the most efficiency isn’t nice. I had related ideas concerning the Floor Laptop computer 4, however at the least it let me alter settings to get higher efficiency at the price of battery life. I couldn’t discover a related choice in Chrome OS.

Talking of battery life, I discovered the C13 Yoga featured respectable longevity. With tons of Chrome tabs open, I might get by way of most of a typical 9-to-5 workday. I’d argue that that’s adequate for most individuals, though longer battery life is all the time welcome.

Like among the Lenovo Home windows laptops I reviewed this yr, standby battery life was phenomenal. And, when you do get low, the C13 Yoga can cost up pretty shortly — in my testing, going from round 20 p.c to full took somewhat over an hour.

Inputs are a blessing and a curse

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Gen 1 moody keyboard

I don’t suppose I’ve ever had a laptop computer concurrently impress me and frustrate me as a lot because the C13 Yoga. The keyboard on this Chromebook is probably certainly one of my favorite keyboards on any laptop computer, and the trackpad is so dangerous I truly most well-liked utilizing the touchscreen to navigate.

Let’s begin with the nice. Many of the Lenovo laptops I’ve examined have had strong keyboards, however C13 Yoga is surprisingly good. It’s tactile in a manner that almost all Lenovo (and laptop computer keyboards on the whole) aren’t. I feel a part of that’s the keyboard has much more journey than you’d usually get on a laptop computer. It’s no mechanical keyboard, however I immensely loved my time typing on it — at the least, when Chrome OS wasn’t jittering.

Now, the trackpad: it’s terrible. It looks like there’s some kind of bizarre latency going on the place my inputs don’t correspond to what the cursor does on display. It’s most noticeable when attempting to click on a button because the cursor looks like it doesn’t cease when it ought to — I carry my finger off the touchpad, however the cursor retains going on display, cruising previous the button I wished to click on and away into the sundown. The 2-finger scrolling gesture appears to work advantageous, though I discover it a tad delicate, so I’m not completely positive what’s going on right here.

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Gen 1 trackpoint

I messed round with all of the touchpad settings in Chrome, disabling issues like acceleration and adjusting the touchpad velocity — none of it helped. Fortunately, the signature ThinkPad/E-book keyboard nipple trackpoint makes an look, so if you’re into that you can navigate Chrome OS with out challenge. I personally can’t stand it, so I related a wi-fi mouse and used that all through the evaluation.

Nevertheless, my touchpad woes seem like a one-off, with different critiques reporting typically constructive experiences with the trackpad.

The final enter price chatting about is the stylus. It really works advantageous, however there’s a noticeable delay between inking enter and the enter displaying up on display. Anybody planning on doing somewhat little bit of inking shouldn’t have any points, however I’m undecided it’ll maintain up for many who need to push the characteristic additional than jotting down the odd notice or marking up a PDF.

The elephant within the room

Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Gen 1 Chrome OS

With all the pieces else out of the way in which, I need to take a second to handle the elephant within the room: Chrome OS. Actually, I’m not a giant fan of Chrome OS for a number of causes, similar to privateness, a basic dislike for Chrome itself and that Chrome OS simply doesn’t meet my wants.

Nevertheless, I additionally suppose Chrome OS is a vital addition to the computing ecosystem and, for some folks, it’s a extremely good choice. Plus, it’s an choice that’s steadily bettering and continuously including nice new options.

“And even if you do resolve to threat the efficiency hit to get essentially the most reasonably priced C13 Yoga, you’re nonetheless on the hook for $1,169.”

Chrome OS is smart for 3 buyer teams: informal browsers, college students/training and enterprise. The primary is, I feel, self-explanatory: individuals who purchase computer systems simply to casually browse the online. Chrome OS is nice for that as a result of it’s basically an online browser with some further options. Due to that, there’s additionally minimal tech help and fewer stuff to go improper, which is nice for individuals who aren’t tremendous tech-savvy.

Training is one other nice use circumstances for Chromebooks since they’re typically actually low cost to deploy at scale and provide quick access to Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and different on-line creation instruments.

Lastly, companies can make the most of Chromebooks in an identical strategy to training — mass deployment that works nice for individuals who do most of their job on-line.

Sadly, I feel the C13 Yoga’s excessive price ticket will make it a tricky promote in all of these optimum Chrome OS sectors. To begin, given the efficiency of the Ryzen 5 3500C in my take a look at unit, I’m undecided it is smart to go together with any of the extra reasonably priced C13 Yoga choices with much less highly effective chips. In different phrases, I’d say the $1,569 C13 Yoga with the 3500C is successfully the beginning mannequin (ignoring no matter bizarre e-coupon silliness Lenovo has going on with its web site). And even if you do resolve to threat the efficiency hit to get essentially the most reasonably priced C13 Yoga, you’re nonetheless on the hook for $1,169.

That’s an enormous worth for an informal browser to pay only for one thing to often browse cyberspace. I additionally don’t see colleges shopping for C13 Yoga Chromebooks at scale for college kids. Companies, on the opposite, might need the price range for it, however at that worth, you might simply get a Home windows laptop computer that’s each extra highly effective and considerably extra succesful.

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