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A+ Build, Snapdragon/Windows 10S Not for EveryonePosted
This is a long review, covering hardware and software. This because the Lenovo C630 comes with a Snapdragon 850 processor and runs what Microsoft calls Windows 10 in S mode. It's only fair to give thoughts on both, even though Lenovo isn't responsible for Windows. Hardware The Lenovo C630 looks amazing. The Iron Gray color makes this look premium. Build quality is excellent. There is a little flex on the keyboard when you type, but nothing to complain about. The laptop comes with sound mounted speakers, which is smart as most 13" laptops tend to have speakers that face down. The screen is gloss, HD, and while the display doesn't fill all of the real estate - it looks good. The Lenovo C630 comes with 2 USB C ports. Lenovo has been thoughtful and both the left and right USB C port can be used to charge the laptop. There is also a headphone jack (right side) and SIM tray (left side). There are no USB 2.0 or 3.0 ports. I know the industry is moving to USB C, but 1 standard USB port would have been helpful given we still live in a world of thumb drives, USB mice, etc. The C630 supports Verizon LTE. There is no included SIM card and you need a SIM removal tool to remove the SIM card hold (included or paperclip if you lose it). I'm surprised Lenovo or Microsoft don't bundle this with a SIM card with a limited amount of free data. The LTE modem is Verizon only and not compatible with GSM LTE, you will be limited to HSPA only (slower than LTE) if you try AT&T or T-Mobile. With a SIM card installed, the laptop will switch smoothly between WiFi/LTE making it a good mobile laptop (it has AC WiFI). The touchpad took a little getting used to, there are no visible left and right buttons. Yes, you can left/right click, but it's a large touchpad. The touchscreen rotates all the way back flat, so you can use this as a tablet, tent mode, or laptop. The Lenovo C630 uses a Snapdragon processor (ARM-based) so it's fanless. This means the C630 is silent. Perfectly silent. It doesn't run hot like an Intel or an AMD laptop. First boot, there was a Lenovo firmware update that had to download and install. It updated without issues. There were also all of the standard Windows updates. Lenovo is good as there's no bloatware on the C630. I wish Lenovo included a stylus/pen with the C630. As would love to have tested this with a stylus as a full-on tablet and not just a touchscreen keyboard. The touchscreen works beautifully but would love to compare the system to an iOS/Android tablet for drawing, writing (not typing) notes. The laptop does have a fingerprint reader and you can log in with your fingerprint. Lenovo quote that this can get up to 25 hours battery life and it "runs all day without a charge". In my tests, I could not replicate this. Windows quotes the battery life on a full charge at 7 hours and 34min. Which technically could be called a full workday, but it's a long way from 25 hours. And that's with LTE-cellular turned off. With WiFi off, there was no increase in battery life. See actual screenshot of the battery notification. Software The Lenovo C630 runs what Microsoft calls Windows 10 in S mode. There are few callouts, some unique to this laptop and some unique to Windows 10S. Unique to this laptop, it's a Snapdragon 850 processor. This is an ARM process so if you run a non-ARM app it runs in "X86 compatibility mode". In simple terms, non-ARM designed software is limited. Chrome doesn't run on ARM (yet) so you're limited to running Microsoft Edge unless you permanently exit S mode. Although when I got the C630 Microsoft announced it will be ending edge and switching to Chromium for the browser. So Chrome-like Edge is coming soon, just not yet. In S mode, you have to download apps from the Windows Store. You CAN run Microsoft Office, Skype, One Drive, etc. and they are all responsive, work well and there's no noticeable difference between the Snapdragon and an x86 processor for normal office duties. This is NOT a PC for gaming other than casual games (Solitaire, Candy Crush). Windows boots FAST and boot time feels faster than my Intel and AMD based PCs. The problem with Windows 10 S mode is you can only get software from the Microsoft 10 store (think of it as an app store). The quality of apps in the store is mixed and Microsoft really needs to clean up the store even though they tout all of the apps as "verified" there is a lot of rubbish. This is a complaint about Microsoft, not Lenovo. You will also find that some apps you could normally download free independently are only available as paid on the Windows Store. The excellent Paint.net, for example, is $6.99 on the Windows Store but FREE if you permanently exit S mode and download it separately. Microsoft DOES let you upgrade and exit S mode so you can install anything. But the exit from S mode is permanent and there's no going back. It also has a fairly ominous warning that some apps you download might not work, crash, etc. See screenshot attached. I wish you could switch out and back, kind of like an administrative mode option. As I like the idea of Windows 10 S for when my less technical family members. I am sticking with Windows 10 in S mode for now and that's fine for Microsoft Office but limiting if you need anything not available on the Windows Store (couldn't install the video conferencing app our office uses). Conclusion I really want to be fair to Lenovo who have made a nice looking, well-built PC and they should be recognized for the experiment with Windows on an ARM PC. There are many compromises though that you need to be aware of including no standard USB, Verizon only, Windows 10 in S mode. Exiting S mode gives you more flexibility but not a guarantee that you can run all the apps you want (smoothly or at all). I am going to keep using the Lenovo C630 and it will is a good light office work laptop. For the price, would I go to a full x86 laptop? Yes, if I could get LTE and also be fanless but everything is a trade-off (this is light, quiet and works for work). I would have given this 4 stars if it came with a stylus and a standard USB port and more carrier support as it would be a better choice via a more "proper" PC than most tablets. I also wish Best Buy let you update reviews, as I'd really like to come back in a few months and share more perspective. The Lenovo C630 is not for everyone.I am saying I would recommend this to a friend but it would "depend" on who the friend was. My elderly parents, yes. For basic highschool university, office work. Yes. It will be good for me to use while I study (light, long battery life, Office works well) and the occasional flight. I imagine losing this to my kids when they tell me they need a laptop for high school. The C630 is not a replacement for an Intel or AMD laptop, but a good second laptop.
I would recommend this to a friend
Lenovo Product Expert
The Lenovo Yoga C630 (WOS) is a mobile computing platform. It is created for the user who needs to be connected at all times. With its 2.75 lbs of weight, its 12.08 x 8.52 x 0.51 inches dimensions and its 5G 802.11AC and broadband LTE capability, the Yoga C630 (WOS) meets the needs of the "on-the-go" user very well.
Many Highs, One Serious LowPosted
Lenovo’s marketing and promotional material for the Yoga C630 series laptops has been marketed to professionals. Showcasing the laptops in executive environments, these machines are ultrabooks by any other name. Thus one would expect their battery life and ease of use to be key selling points. The C630 WOS achieves an astounding battery life by its use of a completely new set of hardware underpinning the Windows 10 experience, but its limitations become apparent quickly. The platform has incredible future potential, but buyers will need to spend some time with a machine like this to determine if the time is right to buy this or any other Snapdragon-powered Windows computer. - Preamble What makes this machine unique from most other computers on the market is its choice of processor. Nearly every computer sold today comes with an “x86” CPU, and Microsoft has programmed Windows 10 to use it. The Lenovo Yoga C630 instead uses a Qualcomm “Snapdragon” processor; the same kind used in high-end smartphones. It uses the “ARM” core and thus can’t run “x86” Windows out of the box. Microsoft recently rebuilt Windows from the ground-up to support these ARM chips, which means this experience is akin to an early-adopter one with some bugs and compatibility issues that do not exist on the mature “x86” Windows. That said, some technology experts consider ARM processors to be the future of laptops and desktops as they’re extremely power-efficient, using less than a tenth the power of even the most efficient x86 processors at the same level of general performance. To achieve this, software must be written to explicitly support it, and the two types of processors are too different for a quick re-write. This means ARM processors can’t run x86 software, which is the overwhelming majority of computer software that exists in the world. Microsoft cleverly addresses this with an x86-to-ARM translator that works on the fly, allowing older apps to run on these machines, albeit with a performance penalty. - Build Quality The first thing I noticed about this machine is how sturdy it feels even without the use of premium materials. The Lenovo C630 is very much on the thin side and is weighted perfectly. The plastics are dense and smooth, almost giving the air of a metal alloy in the hands. Keyboard flex is nearly nonexistent. The hinges hold the screen tightly yet are easy to set a desired angle. Without any visible cooling ducts, the impressively smooth chassis exhibits nearly zero flex under use. The only area that could use improvement is the screen, which is also plastic. The Lenovo’s plastic screen depresses some to the touch and is not smooth like a modern tablet or cell phone using Gorilla Glass or similar. This complaint is minimal if the machine’s being used primarily as a laptop, but those who opt for the Lenovo Pen intending to use this for graphics and handwriting may find the experience underwhelming. - Keyboard, Touchpad Lenovo’s keyboard is a winner. The backlit keys have a short throw and are a joy to type on with a firm actuation force. These membrane style keys don’t compete with some mechanical keyboards up further in the pricing spectrum, but they feel fantastic in every sense and are very quiet. The layout is a full-size, US standard keyboard with good positioning of function keys. The touchpad is not nearly as impressive, but uses the Windows precision driver set for an accurate, gesture-enabled experience. Physical buttons are set under both lower corners of the trackpad, which did lead to some frustration attempting to right-click in a good number of instances. Detection is otherwise fairly spot-on with no major complaints leveraged. One of the more premium features on the laptop is the fingerprint sensor, which allows use of Windows Hello for a rapid login experience. After about a minute of initial calibration, I came away impressed by the touchpad’s sensitivity, managing to log in with a quick press of the finger at nearly 100% accuracy. The sensor worked from several different angles and pressures, making unlocking the device smartphone-fast and easy. - Screen, Sound The 13-inch, 1080p screen on this device is gorgeous. Colors are vivid and details crisp, and the IPS panel’s viewing angles are excellent. There is no discernable backlight bleed, and ghosting during gaming was minimal. Watching videos on this screen is a great experience. The speakers on this machine are par for course. They don’t get terribly loud, but they are positioned to the sides of the keyboard and are upward-firing, delivering an adequate experience. Bass is lacking, making the sound tinny, but it seems optimized to highlight vocals for web-conferencing. The dual microphones next to the webcam had no issue picking up voices from any direction at a reasonable distance. Certainly bring a conference speaker when you can, but this works well in a pinch. The webcam is also adequate for videoconferencing with a 90-degree field of view to the shot, but the video quality is only passable otherwise. Face detection is average as a result. Again, “workable” best describes it. - Connectivity Physical connectivity is lacking. With only 2 USB-C ports, a headset jack, and a SIM tray, your experience with the device depends heavily on whether you’re using mostly wireless and USB-C devices to connect to peripherals, as the lack of standard USB ports is a dealbreaker for business use cases at this time. Both USB-C ports do support full-speed charging, however. On the other hand, wireless connectivity is fantastic as is expected from the Snapdragon processor with radios for all the major standards and a 2x2 antenna array. Wireless AC support allows insane data throughput, with a very strong WiFi connection as a result that out-ranges all other devices I own. Bluetooth range, similarly, is very long and the signal quality excellent. What makes this laptop unique is the option to remain always-connected via use of a CDMA SIM card. This means data plans from the major wireless carriers, namely Verizon, are available for this laptop that allow for cellular data connections anywhere. I was unable to test the cellular data on this machine, but I have used other modern Snapdragon devices with much smaller radio antenna arrays and always found great 4G speeds and reliable connections. - Performance For all the praise I’ve heaped on the Lenovo C630 thus far, performance is where this ambitious device struggles. The Snapdragon 850 is a powerful processor for smartphones, but the Windows on ARM experience at this time is quite taxing. Using ARM-compiled apps included with Windows or found on the Store, performance is reminiscent of late-life netbooks, where the system is plenty usable but clearly nowhere near as snappy as a full x86 laptop or desktop. The system starts off great with its SSD making boot and app load times minimal, but once under way small hiccups are ever present like the system is hurting for memory. With 8GB of DDR4 onboard, however, it is extremely unlikely that the memory is a bottleneck. While ARM-compiled performance is fine, the app selection is quite limited, but Microsoft mercifully integrated an ARM-to-x86 translator that activates seamlessly when someone tries to run a traditional Windows app. This is quite the feat, as it indeed allows for the seamless use of most 32-bit x86 applications on this Windows build as if they were native, but compatibility is mixed. You’ll want to do some research before leaning on the translation layer. Unfortunately, “passable” ARM performance becomes “marginal” x86 performance. The on-the-fly translation adds a lot of additional overhead and it shows, with most apps taking three to five times as long to perform the same functions they would on an x86 laptop of similar caliber. They do work, however, and thus mission-critical office, mail, and other apps should be usable as needed. The Snapdragon’s integrated graphics chip (the Adreno 630) performs quite well for what it is. Sitting on-par with Intel’s HD Graphics, the DirectX-compatible GPU does a good job rendering low-intensity games and some casual eSports titles without issue. I wouldn’t recommend competitive sessions by any stretch though. GPU support for the latest H.265 video codecs means full-screen 4K video playback is smooth. - Battery Life, Charging The flip side to mediocre performance on an ARM chip means the gains are made elsewhere, and it shows in battery life. This is the longest-lasting notebook battery I have ever used. After a full charge, it took 20+ hours of mixed use (video, office, web browsing, some gaming) at moderate brightness to see a low-battery warning. Lenovo’s 22-hour claim may actually be understated in this regard. Charging times are acceptable using the included AC charger (about 3 hours), but the versatility of USB-C means any charging brick can recharge it, making it very convenient to carry around one less charger when traveling. Speeds may not be nearly as fast, but the convenience outweighs the time in my opinion. - Conclusion A laptop lives and dies by its weakest link, since even the best feature set can be marred by a single glaring issue. With many victories, the Lenovo falls just short of perfection simply due to the Snapdragon processor, as Windows on ARM is in its infancy and isn’t well-optimized for the current offering. This will very likely change as Windows on ARM matures and receives updates to boost performance, but at this time it’s difficult to recommend caveat-free. Early adopters are taking a gamble on this future support, but so long as the performance is acceptable to the buyer I can see this becoming a worthwhile purchase. Spend some time with this one at the store, because if it meets your needs and expectations, you’re getting a quality device with unmatched battery life and connectivity.
I would recommend this to a friend
Lenovo Product Expert
The Lenovo Yoga C630 (WOS) is a unique mobile computing system the core of which is the Snapdragon 850 processor. If you are looking for Always Connected, mobile processing on a Windows 10 ARM platform, the Yoga C630 (WOS) is a great choice. We recommend you check the requirements and compatibility of the software you will need to use on your new computer, before you invest. Be sure your new computer will do the work you want to do, before you invest in any new computer.