Robby just wrapped up his semi-annual “Best of” video that will give you a good idea of which Chromebooks are our top picks in a variety of price ranges from budget to ultra-premium. If you’re in the market but aren’t looking to spend a mint, we thought it fitting to spend a little time digging up some “cheap” Chromebooks that are actually worth your time, attention and hard-earned dollars. In the early days of Chrome OS, the “cheap” nomenclature was applied to most every Chromebook on the market because of the stigma that came along with the operating system. In 2020, that no longer applies. We have Android applications, Linux support, Project Athena devices and hardware that stands toe-to-toe with some of the most desirable Windows machines. So, buying a “cheap” Chromebook nowadays usually means making a lot of compromises but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a decent laptop on the cheap.
For this list, I set the bar a $300. I feel most shoppers would agree that anything under this price would meet the cheap or inexpensive criteria when it comes to buying a computer. That said, let’s take a look at three distinctly different Chromebooks that will keep you in that $300 or below price range.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet
Lenovo’s Chrome OS tablet falls into a very weird space. The $299 price tag does not reflect the quality of the hardware and honestly, it’s the best thing going for just under $300. The tablet-first Duet offers enough computing power for the average user and is a capable, albeit tiny, Chromebook when paired with the included folio keyboard. Still, if you are really interested in a Chrome OS tablet that looks a performs very well and you can get by with a 10.1″ laptop, this is where you should spend your money. The 400 nit display is one of the best you’ll find on a Chromebook and the design and build-quality of the Duet will hold up against some of the most expensive flagships on the market.
Best Buy has the 128GB version in stock for $299 or you can save $50 by grabbing the 64GB model from Walmart of all places. Walmart was offering in-store purchase only but as of this morning, it appears that you can order the Duet and have it shipped to the location of your choice. You can find both models by heading over to The Chrome Shop.
Lenovo Chromebook 3
This device is quickly becoming one of my favorite Chromebooks. I’ll have a review out for you guys this coming week but I don’t mind dropping a little spoiler here for your benefit. The Lenovo Chromebook 3 can be had for the measly price of $169 if you grab the 32GB model at Walmart. Normally, we’d never recommend a device that’s new and is less than $200 but until now, you couldn’t find a Chromebook at the price that wasn’t absolute garbage. That said, the Lenovo Chromebook 3 isn’t going to win any awards for premium features or horsepower but what it does offer is a solid build, good keyboard/trackpad and a current-gen Intel processor that puts the Apollo Lake CPU found in other devices to shame.
The Chromebook 3 is an 11.6″ traditional clamshell that will fold flat to 180 degrees and is powered by the Gemini Lake-R N4020 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The screen isn’t great but it’s better than a lot of 11.6″ Chromebooks that we’ve reviewed. It’s all plastic and that’s apparent when you pick it up. However, it doesn’t feel cheap or slapped together. As a matter of fact, it carries itself more like a rugged device designed for the wear and tear of a classroom. If you are on a shoestring budget or just want something cheap but viable for around the house, this is my one and only pick at the sub-$200 price point. You can grab the 32GB Lenovo Chromebook 3 exclusively at Walmart.
Lenovo S340-14 Touch
At $299, Lenovo’s S340 Chromebook is a bit of a toss-up. I have the older S330 at home and I can tell you, it’s hard to look at. The older MediaTek processor struggles with seemingly simple tasks and the HD 1366 x 768 display is dismal, washed out and just a nightmare to look at for more than a few minutes at a time. The S340 improves on a lot of the S330’s shortcomings by adding a Full HD touch display that pushes 250 nits and beats the S330 with its eyes closed. The processor gets a boost as well. Lenovo tossed in the Gemini Lake N4000 Celeron that handles light to moderate tasks with ease.
Those specs combined with 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and Lenovo’s generally well-built chassis and keyboard make the S340 a device worth your attention but at the $299 retail, it’s difficult not to lean towards the Duet tablet. Today, however, is a different story. Best Buy has knocked $80 off of the S340 which means you can get a 14″ Full HD touchscreen Chromebook that doesn’t suck for only $220 and that’s a deal worth checking out if you’re on a budget. You can find the Lenovo Chromebook S340 over at Best Buy for online or in-store purchases where available.
I know this seems like a walking advertisement for Lenovo but honestly, they’re killing it right now. Between these devices and the Chromebook Flex 5, Lenovo is hitting on every price point and offering a little something for everyone. That said, we’re always on the lookout for killer deals on good devices. If you’ve found a deal, no matter the device, drop a comment or shoot us an email and we’ll be glad to add it to our list “if it be deemed worthy.”