The original Yoga may have kicked off the convertible pseudo-tablet laptop we take for granted, but even now, the price isn’t so attractive. In response, Lenovo is widening their audience with the N20p Convertible Chromebook by giving us what we wanted: a touchscreen display and that same physical flexibility. It’s a good effort, but one that relies on its makeshift hybrid nature for the premium.
The N20p is playing in a realm where Chromebooks are regulated to bare minimum enterprise or education computers. Even though this is consumer-oriented, Lenovo sticks to an understated look of gray and plastic with all the necessary inputs found on the sides (USB 2.0/3.0, SD/MMC slot, headphone/mic port, and micro-HDMI). A wide hinge allows the screen to flip 300-degrees backwards and anywhere in between, since you can either use the N20p traditionally, flat, or like a stand (aka ‘tent’ mode) for touching and presentation viewing; there really isn’t much to it besides the build quality being sturdy and automatic orientation when turned – all at an agreeable weight of 2.86 lbs.
A glossy 11.6” 1366 x 768 display gets the job done for text, blacks, and color range. You can also expect the usual off-angle shortcomings of washed out images, a characteristic shared with all Chromebooks that can’t be avoided. A built-in 720p webcam is there if you need it, though don’t expect anything above normal quality. However, the 10-point multitouch screen functionality is the N20p’s draw – a feature that’s rare among Chromebooks, except for the most ludicrously-expensive options that most people quickly forgot existed.
The experience is intuitive if you want to navigate solely by feel alone with a virtual keyboard that’s automatically enabled, without too much effort involved. The chiclet keyboard is equally good and even deceptively comfortable despite its shallow look, if you still prefer long stretches of typing over touching the display.
But without the touch gestures and attractive Yoga profile this is really just another Chromebook. With only an Intel Celeron 2.16GHz N2830 processor, 2GB of memory, and 16GB SSD at your disposal the tech is about as average as you can get. Performance is sufficient for Google Docs and YouTube breaks, which means you shouldn’t overtax the system with numerous apps with obsessive browser tabs open at the same time. Spec-wise, it’s nearly identical to the ASUS C200 I previously tested with a SunSpider benchmark score of 554.8 +/- 0.6%. The only discernible difference I can make is that the microphone quality for “OK, Google” provides a slightly quicker response and fares better with longer phrases.
Battery life is also good, which officially clocks in at 8 hours, or roughly a full workday. Booting the N20p took under eight seconds and battery life fared slightly better of around 8:18 hours from a full charge, and a solid 7:03 under a demanding workload.
As a whole, the Lenovo N20p unabashedly hangs off the aesthetic coattails of the Yoga – basically it’s what you’re paying over $300 for. The multitouch performance is great but there isn’t a whole lot to differentiate it from a growing list of other options out there, which more or less do the same thing for a whole President Grant less – even if you’re able to find it cheaper. Nonetheless, Lenovo has crafted an interesting Chromebook if you’re willing to spend a little more for that 300-degree hinge.