I just got this laptop. I picked it up from Lenovo’s PR company’s offices in the West End, walked with it back to school and just began using it. I’m writing this a few hours later. This isn’t going to be like a normal review. There’s a few reasons for that, but the most important one is time. It’s a precious few weeks till Christmas, and it’s high time I tell you what to buy. If you’re really in a rush, here it is: buy this. It’s expensive but you get exactly what you pay for.
Anyway, where was I? Why will this be like a review diary? Well, apart from time, it’s because a laptop is a very different piece of technology to anything else. A phone is temporary. It’s with you for a year or two and it only ever handles light tasks like Facebook and maybe the odd spot of Netflix. But a laptop is going to be around for a while, and for students who use theirs to take notes at school and write essays at home, it’s very much their life. And I wanted the review to reflect my day-to-day time with it. To take this even further, I will of course be writing the review on the laptop.
So, some first impressions. I own a Chromebook (a Toshiba Chromebook 2, which I’d recommend), which is pretty slim and light. This is a different league. It’s slimmer than the Chromebook by far. Slimmer than a MacBook Air. Lighter too. It weighs nothing. The remarkable bit here it that Lenovo clearly hasn’t skimped on materials. There’s a beautiful metal chassis [insert material, fact check above], a huge glass (no cheap plastic screen) display panel, a stunning hinge mechanism and a soft-touch keyboard. This laptop, then, appears well made and nothing short of stunning to behold. But even from initial use, it’s clear that it isn’t without it’s faults. The keyboard is cramped, which is infuriating because the keyboard is really important on any laptop, and even more infuriating because this laptop has loads of spare space around the edges of the keyboard. My guess would be that the thinness of the laptop base means the keyboard, even with its zero-travel keys, can’t rest over the ports. If that isn’t the case, I just don’t understand why Lenovo would opt for a keyboard this small. If it is the case, then this honestly brings into question the point of being this thin.
This brings me onto another of the laptop’s design oddities; the bezels around the screen are ginormous. I’m absolutely clueless as to why. To the sides and top, they’re not massive but by no means small. to the bottom though, it feels as if Tube announcements should be rolling across. When put next to the bezelless Dell XPS 13, this is particularly apparent.
I didn’t get enough done on it to form a significantly more developed impression of the laptop. But it is worth mentioning that Windows 10, which my review unit thankfully came with, really is leaps and bounds ahead of previous Windows versions. It’s smooth, well thought out and, above all else, compatible. By this I mean it’s the first version of Windows which is equally comfortable in desktop and tablet mode. For a laptop like this with a touchscreen, this really matters. It’s awesome.
The laptop is fast. Though it has an Intel Core M, as opposed to an i5 or i7, it zips along. Everything is done without a blink’s pause. In fairness, this is to be expected – it’s 2015, it has 8GB of RAM and the most demanding thing I’ve done on it is stream some 4K YouTube video. But that’s reasonable – you won’t use a laptop this mobile for exporting video or gaming. It just wouldn’t make any sense. For the day to day tasks that will form most user’s bread and butter, this laptop performs.
People notice this machine. It’s stupendously sleek, and the rotation mechanism really shocks some people. A number of people, men and women I ought to add, have remarked that it is ‘a sexy laptop’. This felt weird initially but it is now beginning to happen at frequent intervals, and I’ve become accustomed to it. The comment isn’t entirely without basis: for a piece of functional machinery, this is hot. I would swipe right on this laptop.
To demonstrate this, I really need to show you a video.
After a few days using solely this, I picked up my Chromebook. For the first time ever, I felt disappointed the Chromebook didn’t become a tent or tablet. It genuinely makes sense, particularly for media consumption and drawing. I was also (resultantly) disappointed that there was no touch screen. A good touch screen grounded in capable software works. I’m settled. I’ve reached a consensus on that one.
This laptop is not perfect. It’s good, perhaps excellent. But it has it’s faults. My initial complaints about the keyboard hold true. The impression wasn’t wrong. I don’t know what Lenovo is doing here. The bezel around the screen is, tentatively, OK. You can get over it. It doesn’t inhibit day to day usage. Further, I wish the hinge, which looks brilliant, performed a little better. It just doesn’t hold the laptop screen steady when typing. It isn’t stiff enough. It’s close, but this is no Macbook. Consider this the day of doubt.
I wanted to show off my Behance page (my mini-photography website) to someone. I flipped over the laptop into tablet mode, turned on auto-rotate, pumped the brightness and began. It looked jaw dropping. For portrait photos, this is the best screen I’ve ever seen. It’s the most pixel dense screen of this size I’ve ever encountered I think (being markedly denser than my 4K 28” panel). It’s bright, reproduces colour immaculately and is just jaw droppingly sharp. For photos and content consumption, particularly when the touchscreen is thrown in, this is in a class entirely of its own.
I wrote an essay on the laptop today. Just under 2000 words. It’s possible to do. It wasn’t a complete pain. With that said, I would have benefitted from more practice time with the keyboard. It requires a little compression training before use. I think I’m getting a measure of this laptop. I’m slowly learning the limits of what can be done on it. I’m a stress test away from having a full picture. So I did a stress test. Of an unconventional kind. I’m entirely disinterested in benchmarking laptops, but I do like practical tests, whereby I open up everything I use over a week, at the same time. First was Chrome, with ten tabs, including a 1080p YouTube clip. Then I added Google Play Music, which is a greedy RAM goblin. Then, I fired up Word. Then PowerPoint. Then, I opened Solitaire. By this point, there was noticeable strain. I think I proved my point though: you can count on this laptop to run quickly in all but unrealistic scenarios.
This device costs a lot of money. There is no avoiding that fact. Some of that money goes to the hardware, which is by no means poor, but a considerable proportion is clearly devoted here to form rather than function (although I’m quite certain Lenovo would contend that they were the same thing). You pay a premium for the hinge, for the tablet/tent/laptop configurations, for the stupidly slim body and the physics-defying weight. You pay too for a premium build and look. If all this means something to you, if the idea of the prettiest, sexiest laptop resonates as a decent one with you, then the price ought not to matter because this is a device for which there is no equal. If though you came here purely to find the most capable laptop, your money would be better spent elsewhere.