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Lenovo has taken the Chromebook concept and bundled it into a high-quality 15.6-inch convertible laptop with a 360-degree rotating screen hinge. There's even a 4K screen in the offing, although this is not available in the UK at the time of writing. The only Yoga Chromebook C630 model currently on Lenovo's UK website has an FHD screen and costs £599.99 (inc. VAT).
Chromebooks are designed with knowledge workers in mind, rather than power users -- "Ideal for everyday work, multitasking, entertainment, and more," as Lenovo puts it in the case of the Yoga Chromebook C630. With Google's Chrome OS and G-Suite software preinstalled, they are augmented by third-party apps and extensions, in a similar fashion to your smartphone.
That doesn't mean Chromebooks have to cut corners on build quality and features. Our recent evaluation of the £699 (inc. VAT) Acer Chromebook Spin 13 demonstrated this nicely, and Lenovo provides another example here.
Attention to design and build means that the Yoga Chromebook C630 would not seem out of place at work. The all-aluminium casing is solid and tough, and I found it difficult to bend the lid. This laptop should certainly cope with being carried around on a daily basis, if you can cope with its bulk and weight. The colour -- midnight blue -- is sober and businesslike.
The 15.6-inch screen makes for a large laptop, even with relatively narrow bezels along the short edges. Its dimensions of 361.5mm deep by 248.5mm wide by 17.8mm thick and 1.9kg weight will be noticeable in your bag or backpack.
Lenovo's website suggests there may be a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) version of this laptop available in the UK at some point, but my review sample had an FHD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS touch screen. I was happy to have this set at 50 percent brightness when working, but the screen needed to be somewhat brighter for watching video -- indeed, at times I felt it wasn't quite bright enough even at 100 percent.
Lenovo provides twin speakers with a grille on the underside of the laptop. A shade more volume would be appreciated, but audio quality is fine when streaming catch-up TV, for example. The screen is very reflective, which may be a minus point some people. Using the Yoga Chromebook C630 with bright sunlight streaming through a nearby window could be challenging.
This is a Yoga device, which means its screen hinges rotate a full 360 degrees. It's a little unwieldy to physically rotate such a large device, and there's no way I would want to hold it for long in tablet mode. However it worked beautifully in both 'tent' and 'stand' modes as a TV viewer, and could also be a great device for showing presentations to colleagues or clients. The large screen would help content reach across a sizeable conference table.
As always, Lenovo's keyboard is a pleasure to use. The keys have about equal weighting on downward and spring-back action, and are relatively quiet -- I'm a very light-touch typist and they barely made any noise at all. A backlight helps with working in darker conditions. The touchpad is large and responsive, although its integrated buttons give a louder click than the keys.
The keyboard switches itself off when you go into tablet mode, eliminating the possibility of accidentally registering key presses. But it's still possible to physically press the keys, so they could be vulnerable to heavy-handed manipulation of the laptop -- or indeed to accidental drops or prangs due to its size and weight.
The Fn key row is somewhat curtailed on a Chromebook in comparison to a standard laptop. Here, a row of 12 wider than standard, half-height keys provide for volume control, app switching, forward and back functions (when web browsing, for example), screen brightness, locking down until your password is entered and an ESC function.
The Intel Core i5-8250U processor underpinning this laptop is supported by 8GB of RAM, along with an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU. I wasn't able to cause any problems even with more than 30 tabs open across two instances of Chrome, three of which were running videos including one streaming music (and probably more running video ads).
There is 64GB of internal storage, more than 99 percent of which was free out of the box. Given that 128GB is fast becoming standard fare for higher-end smartphones, this seems somewhat paltry and is arguably the key disappointment with the Yoga Chromebook C630. There is a MicroSD card slot as well as 100GB of Google Drive storage, but more integrated storage would still be welcome.
Alongside that MicroSD card slot there is a USB 3.0 port, a 3.5mm audio jack and a USB-C port, as well as a USB-C shaped power input. I's not the most generous array of ports, but is probably enough. There is a 720p webcam above the screen.
According to Lenovo, the Yoga Chromebook C630's 56Whr battery should keep the FHD screen going for up to 10 hours, while the higher-resolution 4K screen reduces battery life by an hour. During testing I skipped around with screen brightness, probably spending more of my time near 100 percent, and never dropping below 50 percent. Music was playing, or some sort of data streaming for much of the time. Over several separate three-hour sessions, more than a quarter but less than a third of battery life was consumed.
I installed Geekbench and ran its system benchmark three times, achieving an average multi-core score of 8857 and a single-core average of 4415 -- roughly equivalent to a high-end smartphone. The Geekbench battery rundown test, which I ran with the screen brightness at 100 percent and screen dimming disabled, saw the battery last for 6 hours.
Taking the real-world and Geekbench battery tests into account, most users should expect to get all-day (8-hour) battery life from the Yoga Chromebook C630, with a reasonable mix of workloads and screen brightness settings.
Lenovo's Yoga Chromebook C630 may be a challenging option in an organisation where Windows is the primary platform, as it lacks the breadth of application support -- although it is possible to get Windows applications to run on Chrome OS.
However, the Yoga Chromebook C630 should fare better in offices where G-Suite is the standard, and Lenovo has done the Chromebook platform a favour by refusing to compromise on build quality and -- internal storage excepted -- on internal specifications.
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