Windows 11 is cool, but let’s be honest — Microsoft’s operating system is total overkill for the vast majority of users. When a family member asks my advice on buying a new PC, I almost always suggest a Chromebook. Why? Because they tell me everything they do is in the web browser anyway. And by getting them onto Chrome OS, there is a far reduced chance of them bothering me for PC help in the future. Chromebooks are simple and secure.
But what Chromebook should they buy? Ah, that is a tough one. There are so many great makes and models on the market these days. You really can’t go wrong by sticking with reputable brands such as Acer, ASUS, or HP. One of my personal favorites, however, is Lenovo. That company is legendary for offering high-quality Windows computers, and its Chromebooks are no different.
ALSO READ: Logitech Pen is a student-focused Chromebook stylus with USB-C charging
Today, Lenovo unveils a trio of new Chromebooks with its “IdeaPad” branding. All three of them double as tablets, with two of them — the IdeaPad Flex 3i and Flex 5i — being convertibles, meaning the screen folds around back. The Duet 3 is more of a proper tablet with a removable keyboard, similar to a Surface Go.
ALSO READ: Acer D501 is a pricey Works-With-Chromebook-certified USB-C dock
The IdeaPad Flex 3i and Flex 5i have 15-inch and 14-inch screens respectively. The Flex 5i can be configured with an Intel Core i5-1235U, Core i3-1215U, or Pentium 8505. The Flex 3i, however, is limited to either the Intel Pentium N6000 or Celeron N4500. Both Chromebooks can be equipped with your choice of 4GB or 8GB of RAM. For storage, the 3i only comes with eMMC ranging from 32GB to 128GB. The 5i can be had with a 64GB or 128GB eMMC, but enthusiasts will want to get the proper SSD offered in 256GB or 512GB.
ALSO READ: Plugable launches new USB video adapters
Both of the new IdeaPad Flex models come with USB-C and microSD card readers, but only the 3i has HDMI-out. The 5i has Wi-Fi 6E, however, which is slightly superior to the regular Wi-Fi 6 found on the 3i. Both Chromebooks are offered in both blue and gray colors. The Flex 3i webcam is limited to 720p, while the 5i gets a full-HD 1080p cam.
While the Flex 3i and Flex 5i look like solid Chromebooks, it is the Duet 3 that is most exciting. The 11-inch tablet (with 2K resolution) is not powered by an x86_64 processor, but instead, an ARM-based Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 Compute Platform chip. If you aren’t aware, many consider ARM to be the future of computing, so it is nice to see Chromebooks based on that architecture.
The Duet 3 is very reminiscent of the Surface Go, as it is primarily a tablet, but it turns into a makeshift laptop by flipping a kickstand and attaching a keyboard. While the keyboard is included, the stylus is not — that is an additional purchase. Like the IdeaPad Flex 3i and Flex 5i, the Duet 3 is also offered in your choice of blue and gray colors.
The Duet 3 has two cameras — a 5MP selfie-camera on the front and an 8MP camera on the rear. It can be equipped with either 4GB or 8GB of RAM, but sadly, like the aforementioned Flex 3i, storage is limited to eMMC — 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB. Surprisingly, only Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) is available. And no, cellular connectivity does not seem to be an option. Sigh.
So, when can you buy these new IdeaPad Chromebooks? Both the IdeaPad Flex 3i and IdeaPad Duet 3 will hit stores in May 2022 starting at $399.99. If you want the IdeaPad Flex 5i, however, you will need to wait an additional month and spend a bit more, as it won’t be available until June 2022 starting at $499.99. Pricing will increase on all three, obviously, if you choose to configure with better-than-base specifications.