Convertible Chromebooks are all the rage lately, but you wouldn’t have known it by looking at Lenovo’s offerings. It did release the Chrome-powered ThinkPad Yoga 11e, but that was aimed at schools. Now, however, Lenovo is building a 2-in-1 Chromebook aimed at the mainstream — it just launched the Flex 11 Chromebook, a budget 11.6-inch hybrid designed to run Android apps. It can’t actually use Android apps yet (Google Play support is “coming soon,” Lenovo says), but its combination of a tablet mode with a quad-core, 2.1GHz ARM processor should make it well-suited to your favorite mobile titles. Just don’t expect it to be speedy compared to Chromebooks using Celeron or Core chips.
The 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and 1,366 x 768 screen resolution won’t blow you away, but there are a few perks to this relatively no-frills design. The Flex 11 includes USB-C to support newer peripherals and charge your system (there’s also USB 3.0, HDMI and an SD card slot), and it’s built to take some abuse between the reinforced ports and water resistance on both the keyboard and trackpad. You might like the 10-hour estimated battery life, as well.
However, the real allure is likely the price. The Flex 11 Chromebook will cost just $279 when it arrives this month. That’s not exactly revolutionary (Acer has a lower-priced option for students), but that’s much better than the $439 you had to pay for the school-oriented ThinkPad when it was new. This is clearly aimed at anyone looking to get their feet wet with Chromebooks, whether they’re doing schoolwork or just watching Netflix on the couch.