With little fanfare, Lenovo refreshes the budget-friendly section of its Chromebook lineup with a pair of notebooks that promise basic specs and, in the case of the Flex 3i, a convertible design that's a little bigger than the IdeaPad Duet Chromebook.
Lenovo has generated plenty of hype around its new IdeaPad Duet Chromebook, a 10-inch tablet with included Bluetooth keyboard for just $279, but appears to be much more low-key in rolling out its even (slightly) newer Chromebook 3 and Chromebook Flex 3i systems. Their launch earlier this week didn't even garner a press release, just landing on the Lenovo website to be sussed out by online sleuths (like Chrome Unboxed).
Part of the reason for the quiet introduction may owe to the basic nature of the new Chromebooks, neither of which includes any standout features other than maybe their budget-friendly starting prices. Both models come with Intel Celeron N4020 processors, 4GB of RAM, and 11.6-inch 1,366x768 displays -- just the type of no-nonsense components that Google envisioned when it launched the Chromebook concept way back when.
The Flex 3i, however, is a 2-in-1 laptop, so you get a touchscreen, ability to use it as a tablet, and an attached full keyboard for not much more than the IdeaPad Duet. For those who like the hybrid appeal of the Duet, but lean more towards laptop than tablet usage, the Flex 3i could be an enticing alternative. On the other hand, the Chromebook 3 appeals to the traditional market for clamshell-design Chromebook laptops, particularly students, many of whom will increasingly rely on remote learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chromebook 3 is currently available in just a single configuration (including 64GB of storage) for a very affordable $229.99 price. The base configuration for the Flex 3i comes with just 32GB of storage for $329.99 (or $50 more than the IdeaPad Duet), but you can pay only $10 more to get 64GB instead.