Earlier this week, Lenovo quietly unveiled its latest budget Chrome OS device. The Chromebook 3 is a Gemini Lake-R powered clamshell with a two-tone onyx black chassis and not much else to really get excited about apart from the $229 price tag. At that price, it’s probably one of the best budget devices on the market at the moment but we’ll save our final judgment for our full review.
Shortly after sharing this new Chromebook, our pal George E. sent me an email with a Walmart listing for a 32GB variant of the Chromebook 3 that immediately grabbed my attention. Aside from the 32GB of storage which is half that of the one listed on Lenovo’s site, this model is completely identical. The reason for my excitement? It was priced a $169! Now, I don’t remember a single instance in which we have recommended a new Chromebook that costs less than $180. Honestly, if you purchased a Chromebook at that price, it was either used, refurbished or an absolute dud. The Acer 15 with 2GB of RAM comes to mind and I wouldn’t wish that type of device on my worst enemy. In this price range, Chromebooks are usually shipped with 200 nit, garbage displays, underpowered and made with the cheapest plastic you can find.
While I can’t yet speak to the build quality of the Chromebook 3, I can say that the internals makes it a very compelling device at $169. This isn’t a sale price either. Walmart has it listed for this price as the retail. The N4020 Gemini Lake-R processor can put up Octane scores of over 16,000 which gives it enough horsepower for the majority of Chrome OS users. Unlike some Lenovo models that have a 220 nit display, (Which is a terrible panel BTW. My S330 has it and it is the worst.) the Chromebook 3 offers a respectable 250 nits. Again, we’ll have to get one of these unboxed to submit a final verdict but at 11.6″ and 250 nits, it’s probably not the worst display we’ve seen. Most of Lenovo’s 11.6″ device have better-than-average build quality and I would expect this Chromebook to be no different. Even on the company’s cheapest devices, the keyboards are good and the chassis are solid. If this is the case, the Chromebook 3 could be the first device we’ve ever reviewed in this price range that would actually be worth buying.
While I was giving the listing a closer look, I realized that our local Walmart had two in stock. So, instead of waiting on a review unit, we placed an order. We have the Lenovo Chromebook 3 (11), 4GB/32GB model, here in the office and I’ll be unboxing it later today so you can get a closer look. If you’ve been looking for a Chromebook that’s cheap but useable, this is probably the first place you should look. It appears that a lot of Walmart stores have them in stock and you can order one to pick up in person if you are so inclined. Check your local inventory at the link below and check back later this weekend for a first look at the Lenovo Chromebook 3. I’m excited to see what it has to offer.