Lenovo has made been a major player in the Chrome OS space over the past couple of years with devices like the Yoga C630, Thinkpad C13, and the wildly popular Duet Chromebook tablet. In between these premium consumer models, Lenovo has continued to pump out a wide variety of EDU and budget-friendly devices that are great for users needing a device that will get the job done without breaking the bank. Many of these Chromebooks are built with MIL-SPEC ratings and are drop-tested and water-resistant. Others, like the IdeaPad 3 series, are simply designed for moderate use at a very low price. We reviewed the Intel-based Lenovo IdeaPad 3 a while back and while it isn’t a very memorable device, it was the best thing going under $200 that time.
While I fully expect to see some budget devices from Lenovo rocking Intel’s latest Jasper Lake CPUs, it appears that the PC maker is continuing its commitment to ARM by releasing two more MediaTek-powered Chromebooks for general consumers. As discovered by Kevin Tofel on Lenovo’s product reference website, a new 14″ Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is on the way and it is powered by the same MediaTek MT8183 found in the popular Duet Chromebook Tablet. Upon digging around, I discovered that Lenovo is putting out an 11.6″ model as well. Both devices look very much like the previous Intel-based versions and you can bet that you’ll be able to pick them up on the cheap. Here’s a closer look at the two new Chromebooks from Lenovo.
IdeaPad 3 CB 14M836
The 14″ Lenovo IdeaPad 3 doesn’t depart from its predecessor much at all. You’ll find 4GB of RAM and your choice of 32GB or 64GB of eMMC storage. Around the outside, Lenovo opted for a single USB-A 2.0 port and a single USB-C port which is used for charging, power delivery, or extending a second monitor. The spec sheet does state that this Chromebook will support a FullHD 1920×1080 display @60Hz which is a plus. You’ll also get a MicroSD card slot for transferring files or extra storage and the usual 3.5mm audio jack. It also has a privacy shade for the webcam which is a hot button for many users now working remotely. The speakers also appear to be upfiring and are mounted to the left and right of the keyboard with speaker grills on each side. I doubt the audio will be stellar but the placement should make this a decent device for taking a video call or watching a YouTube video.
Where Lenovo did us a solid is in the panel. The base model still features a “meh” TN display but it is still FullHD and that should make this Chromebook more than bearable to use at its base 220 nits. That pretty decent for a budget device. Stepping up, you can get a very respectable 300 nit touch display and now you’ve got a very good Chromebook for users that spend a lot of time in front of the screen. This model comes in Abyss Blue or Arctic Grey. No pricing has been announced but I’d bet we will see this Chromebook pop up for sale over the next couple of weeks.
IdeaPad Flex 3 CB 11M836
The 11.6″ Lenovo looks nearly identical to the previous Intel model with the processor being the only major difference. It features a 250 nit touch display that should be a decent display for the kiddos to get some school work done or maybe even a secondary device to carry around in your bag when you’re on the go. You get the same port selection as the 14″ model but the only variance on internals comes in the form of storage with 32GB or 64GB at your disposal. Lenovo is touting up to 16 hours of battery life on this Chromebook and thanks to MediaTek, I’d say that’s not unrealistic. The Flex 3 comes in Abyss Blue and Arctic Grey and features that cool, two-tone look that Lenovo put on last year’s model. If I had to guess, I’d say this model will come in around $230-$250 but you’ll probably be able to pick it up on sale for under $200 after it is on shelves for a bit.
Keep an eye out for these Chromebooks at your local Walmart or Best Buy. We’ll get our hands on them ASAP and let you know if we think they’re worth your time or money.