May 30, 2023

June Wan/ZDNET

After I was in faculty years in the past, I put my hard-earned, burger-flipping job {dollars} right into a Toshiba Chromebook 2. It had a beneficiant 13.3-inch show, value round $330, and regarded like a MacBook from afar. (I admit with embarrassment that the final bit was crucial to my shopping for determination.)

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The laptop computer acquired me by way of two semesters earlier than the battery began to empty itself with no regard for scholar life, the Wi-Fi would change off at random intervals, and that MacBook-looking show would actually detach itself. My faculty funding was gone however not forgotten.

Quick ahead to this week, once I started testing Lenovo’s Flex 3i Chromebook, first introduced at CES in January. In case you’ve shopped within the sub-$350 market earlier than, then you understand simply how tough it may be to discover a laptop computer that is really viable. Viewing angles are by no means perfect, urgent on the touchpad can really feel such as you’re breaking a toy, and common compromises are felt greater than anything.

However this $350 Chromebook from Lenovo adjustments all the pieces.

Using the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3i


Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook

An reasonably priced touchscreen laptop computer that punches above its value class.

After spending the previous few days with Lenovo’s comparatively low cost laptop computer, I can not assist however envy faculty college students who’ve such competent computing choices on this value vary right now.

To place issues into perspective, ask your self this: What do you worth in a laptop computer? Would you like a high-resolution show? Does it have touchscreen help? What ports do you want? Does privateness matter to you?

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Irrespective of the place your thoughts takes you, there’s an opportunity that this Lenovo Chromebook will meet your calls for. The Flex 3i has a 1920 x 1080 decision show that may be folded backward into tent mode and pill mode, a wealth of ports together with HDMI, USB-C, microSD, and a headphone jack, and even a privateness shutter for once you’re not utilizing the webcam — or once you need to know for certain that you simply will not pop right into a video name trying all awkward.

A top-down shot of the Chromebook Flex 3i

The keyboard feels satisfyingly clicky, with sufficient cushioning to maintain inputs close to silent.

June Wan/ZDNET

Now, earlier than I gasoline you up with what looks like the perfect deal on the web since free TVs, let me make it clear that this Chromebook is not going to exchange a MacBook or high-end Home windows laptop computer. The Flex 3i can barely deal with a 1080p video edit, the trackpad, realistically, solely has room for one to 2 fingers at a time, and the construct high quality is an absolute grand slam if you happen to’re a fan of plastic and nothing however it. 

And whereas I am at it, it would not assist that once you set the laptop computer in tent or pill mode, the top-firing audio system turn into back-firing audio system. It is like listening to somebody speaking, however their again is going through you. I digress.

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By and enormous, the Lenovo Chromebook has greater than sufficient computing energy for many college students, distant employees, and informal customers alike, with 4GB of RAM and an Intel N100 processor. It is within the extra conventional apps and companies the place the Flex 3i actually shines.

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3i in tablet mode

Pill mode disables the keyboard and trackpad on the again.

June Wan/ZDNET

Issues like on-line content material creation, streaming motion pictures and TV reveals (or the NBA playoffs), and attending video conferences are dealt with with grace, and never as soon as did I hear any hissing noises or indicators of overheating. That is greater than I may ask for from a $349 laptop computer.

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The portability of the Flex 3i is the cherry on prime. In comparison with the 16-inch MacBook Professional that I normally lug round, the Lenovo weighs lower than three kilos and it is as backpack-friendly as laptops come.

For $349, I problem you to discover a laptop computer with extra performance and advantages than the Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook. I am not saying that is the perfect laptop computer available on the market, however it might’ve simply been on the prime of my shopping for record if I used to be nonetheless in faculty, and that is coming from somebody who’s had all of the experiences with shopping for $300 laptops.

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