The Lenovo Thinkpad Chromebook 13 is a solid, well-rounded, well-built slice of moderation.
That’s not a knock. It’s just the way I feel after having used it for some time now. This device doesn’t offend at any turn, but never seems to really grab your attention. Everything stays safe, good, average, and OK. And honestly, in the Chromebook world, that’s a bit of an accomplishment. Maybe it’s forgettable. Maybe it’s simply average. But for those looking for a simple, no-frills workhorse, this could be your device.
You can easily watch the video above and I’ll talk you through this step by step, but if you choose to read on, I’ll get to the main points quickly and hopefully help you along on your decision of whether or not to purchase this Chromebook.
The build is solid, plastic, and not really notable. It is, however, strong and rigid and doesn’t give any reason to feel any cheapness anywhere throughout. Ports are great as well, 2 each of USB 3.0 and USB-C, and a full-size SD slot. The design is what you’d expect from the Thinkpad line and, though it doesn’t do anything head-turning, it is not super-thick or clunky. It looks a bit that way in pics, but in real life it is reasonably handsome.
A commenter on YouTube nailed it: it is just plain.
The addition of military-spec ruggedness is welcome and means this thing is built to take a beating and fend off dust and water.
The screen is quite good. Viewing angles are nice with only a slight brightness shift on and off angles. The brightness combined with the anti-glare screen makes working in almost any environment very pleasing. I’ll save my comments on 1080p displays at 13.3″ and say this: it is as good as any other 13.3″ screen available right now. Side by side with the Dell Chromebook 13 was almost identical, with the Dell only being a slight bit warmer in color.
Here’s where this device shows off. Input methods are stellar. The keyboard is an absolute joy to type on and has ruined me a little bit for all others. The lack of backlight is disappointing, but the travel and feel of this keyboard is second to none. I totally enjoyed every second typing on this keyboard.
The trackpad was no slouch either. Though not made of glass like the Pixel or Dell, it performed very well. Multi-finger gestures were smooth, tracking was perfect, and the travel on the click was fantastic. I had ‘0’ complaints. And, I know there are some who will knock this device for the lack of the Trackpoint nub and the odd mouse button layout, but as a Chromebook user I didn’t notice that at all. Google is picky about the keyboard and trackpad layout, so these omissions are understandable.
Internals and Performance
The spec sheet for this model is quite familiar, but we’ll drop it here anyway:
- 6th-gen (Skylake) Celeron 3855U
- 4GB RAM
- 16 GB eMMC Internal Storage
And while this is nothing extraordinary, its performance is. As you’ll see in the video, the Octane scores on this thing hovered in the low 16,000 range. I was able to achieve a few 16,500 scores. For reference, the 4th-gen (Haswell) Celeron falls in the 12,000 range and the 4th-gen i3 is right around 16-17K.
Once we see these scores, performance issues melt away pretty quickly. Really, over 13K or so feels crazy-fast on Chrome OS. So, my 4th-gen i3 and this 6th-gen Celeron are on pretty equal footing. And the day-to-day showed this to be true.
Hooked up to the internal monitor and extending the display to a QHD monitor gave this Chromebook no issues. Multiple windows, apps, Ubuntu in a window, etc. as I would have on any other device performed remarkably well.
This has less to do with this particular device and more to do with Chrome OS’ continuing ability to become more agile and responsive (not less so) as time goes by. This is counter-intuitive for me as I’m accustomed to devices and OS’ that age poorly. It seem Chrome OS is truly getting better and better with age instead of getting more bloated.
And this is really encouraging.
So, as plain and straighforward this device is, you can tell it gets a lot right. And, to its credit, it doesn’t do much wrong. Middle of the road, plain, functional: whatever you want to call it, this Chromebook gets out of the way and lets you get a lot done. If a road warrior device is what you need and don’t really worry much about standing out at your local coffee shop, the Lenovo Thinkpad Chromebook 13 could be the device for you. It’s price-point, being similar to Dell’s Chromebook 13, may be a bit steep for some. But, you get what you pay for, and this device is worth the price tag, especially at the entry level.
Highly recommended from us here at Chrome Unboxed.