Lenovo: 2019 Brand Report Card
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Our first-place brand from last year fell to fifth place because of a few poor review scores and unhelpful tech support. Although it was an off-year for Lenovo, the vendor still landed in the top half of our rankings, thanks to some innovative new features and the wide selection of laptops it has on tap.
Lenovo found its footing in the gaming sector with the Legion Y7000, an affordable rig with a sleek design and vivid display. And while the Yoga C930 impressed us with its soundbar hinge, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and ThinkPad X1 Yoga's absence (both available in June) hurt Lenovo's average review scores this year.
Lenovo's Key Strengths
- ThinkPads and Legion: Lenovo's ThinkPad business laptops continue to impress us, and now the Legion brand is consistently producing reliable gaming machines.
- Great value and selection: From budget Chromebooks to premium 2-in-1s to beastly workstations, Lenovo offers something for everyone.
Lenovo's Key Weaknesses
- Poor phone support: Lenovo's support agents were unable to answer our questions about the company's own apps, and their social media support was slow to respond.
- Inconsistent quality: There's no denying the excellence of Lenovo's Thinkpad laptops, but some of the notebooks we reviewed this year missed the mark.
Top-Rated Lenovo Laptops
Lenovo's ratings dropped drastically this year. The decline can be attributed to multiple 2.5-star reviews and the absence of some top models (X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga), which will be released later this year. Without those reliable performers boosting Lenovo's scores, the company averaged a laptop rating of just 3.5 stars, down from last year's 3.8 stars. It's not all bad news for Lenovo, however: ThinkPads continue to impress, and now Lenovo has some top gaming machines and midrange options to offer.
In fact, one of Lenovo's few Editor's Choice picks this year is a gaming laptop. The $1,100 Legion Y7000 is an excellent value, thanks to its slim aluminum chassis, colorful display and strong overall performance. For the everyday consumer, the Yoga C930 is a well-rounded machine and one of our favorite convertibles. A nice addition to Lenovo's portfolio is the beastly X1 Extreme, although business users may want to wait for the refreshed X1 Carbon.
Lenovo officially has two looks: business formal and business casual. First, the casual. With the Legion Y740, Y730 and Y7000, the company has successfully developed gaming laptops that could easily make it in an office meeting — provided you turn off the keyboard’s customizable lighting. Yogas, like the C630, continue to be crowd-pleasers, so much so that Lenovo extended the design to the Chromebook C630. The Yoga Book C930 is one of the slimmest laptops of the year at 0.4-inches thick. ThinkPads like the X1 Extreme and the X380 are firmly business formal, delivering subtle beauty and MIL-SPEC toughness.
Our reviewers ran into several build-quality issues when handling Lenovo's midtier/budget laptops. In cases like the V330, the give in the lid was "alarming," while the IdeaPad 530s "wobbled when [we] applied pressure to the left of the touchpad." We also encountered a bit of difficulty when trying to extract the stylus from the 500e Chromebook. And "in tablet mode, the top and bottom of the [Flex 6 11’s] chassis don't align well, causing a gap."
Support and Warranty (11/20)
The best support and help that Lenovo provides isn't from its agents, but from its online databases and mobile app. If you try their phone agents or social media accounts, you're going to get a whole lot of nothing: they failed to answer all three of our questions we asked over the phone, and their online agents were terribly slow at responding.
Lenovo laptops include either a 12- or 36-month hardware warranty, depending on the unit, with the former being the industry default and the latter being far more time than most include for free. Accidental-damage protection costs extra.
Lenovo deserves credit for making its wild Yoga Book C930 more practical by adding an E Ink display. That machine is also still amazingly light, at 1.7 pounds, and benefits from a precision pen. Still, the knock-to-open feature is gimmicky.
We're impressed by the regular Lenovo Yoga C930, which squeezes a Dolby Atmos soundbar right into the hinge. This laptop also boasts an active pen with onboard storage and a privacy shutter for the camera. Other Lenovo highlights include the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which is now the world's lightest commercial 14-inch laptop.
What's around the corner looks amazing. Lenovo has unveiled the world's first foldable PC, which will be part of the ThinkPad X1 family. That machine's 13-inch OLED display can bend into multiple modes, and the PC supports pen input. The device will go on sale in 2020.
Value and Selection (15/15)
Lenovo has an enormous selection of laptops that dip into a variety of categories, satisfying virtually every need. On the budget side of things you have systems like the IdeaPad 130s, which starts at $199, along with the Flex 6 11 ($289) and 500e Chromebook ($309). Mid-tier mainstream options include the Ideapad 530S ($699), Yoga 730 13 ($709) and the Flex 15 ($719). If you want something a bit more premium, there’s the Yoga C930 ($1,117), which provides stronger performance. Lenovo even boasts a premium Chromebook, the Yoga Chromebook C630 ($629).
MORE: Best Lenovo Laptops
Additionally, the company offers a flurry of gaming laptops, including the Legion Y530 ($799), the Legion Y7000 ($825) and the 17-inch Legion Y740 ($2,489) with its Core i7 CPU and a powerful Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU.
Mobile professionals should check out the ThinkPad L380 ($779) as well as the slim powerhouse that is the ThinkPad X1 Extreme ($2,955). If you need a thin-and-light system, look no further than the ThinkPad T series laptops like the 3.3-pound T490 (starting at $846) or the 4.2-pound T580 (starting at $786). Not thin enough for you? Then check out the X1 Carbon with its barely-there 2.5-pound carbon fiber chassis. Oh, and let's not forget the ThinkPad P1 ($3,209) and its beastly power thanks to a monsterous Intel Xeon-2176M CPU, Nvidia Quadro 1000 GPU and MIL-SPEC tested, 4-pound chassis.