Some funds Chromebooks are clearly cheap-looking, with ugly styling and questionable construct high quality. Not so with the engaging, solidly constructed Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook ($249.99). This cut price laptop computer achieves its low value by compromising in just a few wise areas, resembling display screen decision and reminiscence amount. Its Intel Celeron processor, 4GB of RAM, and 720p HD show are skimpy by Home windows and Mac requirements, however they’re ample for the standard Chrome OS person, and their low unit prices appear to have freed Lenovo from having to stint on the IdeaPad 3’s engineering and manufacturing. It feels way more stable than your common $250 laptop computer.
A Modern, Fashionable Exterior (at a Low cost Value)
From the surface, the Platinum Grey IdeaPad 3 isn’t beautiful, nevertheless it does seem glossy and fashionable. No screws or gaps mar the clear strains of the show lid or the perimeters of the laptop computer, which is clad in a combination of polycarbonate and ABS plastics. The IdeaPad 3 is comparatively mild for a 14-inch laptop computer, although it’s a bit on the cumbersome aspect. It weighs 3.08 kilos and measures 0.74 by 12.9 by 9.2 inches, comparable with the HP Chromebook 14. It’s considerably thicker than the 0.5-inch-thick Google Pixelbook Go, although that premium Chromebook has a smaller 13.3-inch display screen.
There’s a little bit of flex within the base and show lid of the IdeaPad 3 if you apply strain together with your arms, nevertheless it doesn’t really feel flimsy. The one bodily facet of the IdeaPad 3 that belies its funds nature is the somewhat massive black plastic border across the display screen. There’s additionally a startlingly massive digital camera lens set into the highest border. The massive 720p digital camera is a throwback to a couple years in the past, earlier than the primary millimeter webcams and ultra-thin display screen borders began displaying up on laptops at various value factors.
If the display screen borders and digital camera are downmarket, the display screen itself is decidedly so. The 14-inch HD show, which lacks contact assist, has a decision of 1,366 by 768 pixels. It makes use of a twisted nematic (TN) panel and an LED backlight rated for simply 220 nits of brightness. All of this makes for a dim, fuzzy viewing expertise that’s materially worse than that supplied by the extra frequent full HD (1080p) decision and 350-plus nits of brightness on midrange Chromebooks just like the Chromebook 14 or the Asus Chromebook C523, which normally price round $150 greater than the IdeaPad 3. The usage of a TN panel as a substitute of a extra superior in-plane switching (IPS) one particularly reduces the IdeaPad 3’s display screen high quality, making colours seem washed out should you view it from an angle.
We not often advocate laptops with screens beneath full HD decision, however there are two methods to justify the IdeaPad 3’s somewhat lackluster display screen high quality. The primary, clearly, is value. TN panels are low-cost to supply, and Lenovo seems to have reinvested the financial savings in different components of the IdeaPad 3. The second is battery life. With fewer pixels to energy, the IdeaPad 3 manages extraordinary endurance away from the facility outlet, lasting for practically 17 hours in our battery-rundown testing.
Surprisingly Deep Connectivity
Battery life is critically essential for Chromebooks. In regular occasions, they’re usually used for taking notes in crowded, power-outlet-deficient school rooms, or being shuttled from assembly to assembly. With coronavirus shutdowns placing a maintain on many of those actions, Chromebooks nonetheless want lengthy battery life for teenagers who use them as remote-learning units within the basement or yard whereas their dad and mom work within the residence workplace.
A propensity to wander additionally implies that Chromebooks want stable Wi-Fi, since they might be removed from a wi-fi base station. Whereas I didn’t expertise any random disconnects or slowdowns whereas testing the IdeaPad 3 related to a Netgear Nighthawk router, it’s unlucky that the laptop computer makes use of the older 802.11ac Wi-Fi commonplace. This presents ample pace and reliability in the present day, however the next-generation 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) commonplace supplies higher future-proofing.
The IdeaPad 3 additionally has a cramped 32GB flash storage drive, so that you’ll must preserve most of your massive information—images, movies, and the like—within the cloud or on an exterior drive. Fortunately, the IdeaPad 3 has a built-in microSD card slot. This makes it simple so as to add very low-cost storage should you want it.
The microSD card slot is positioned on the IdeaPad 3’s left edge, the place you’ll additionally discover a USB-C port, a USB 3.1 Kind-A port, and a headphone-microphone mixture jack. On the appropriate edge, you may see an extra USB 3.1 Kind-A port and a USB-C port. With 4 USB ports in whole and a microSD card reader, the IdeaPad 3 presents superior bodily connectivity, even in contrast with the Pixelbook Go and different Chromebooks that price much more.
I additionally recognize that the IdeaPad 3 makes use of a USB-C cable for charging. This makes it simpler to make use of a charging wire from one other system should you can’t bear in mind the place you positioned the AC adapter. Many bargain-basement Chromebooks nonetheless use proprietary barrel-style charging cables, which might be tough and costly to switch in case your baby loses them.
Loads of Typing Consolation
The IdeaPad 3’s keyboard presents loads of typing consolation, with sturdy, well-spaced keys and steady key switches that ship a stable, low-pitched clicking sound. The arrow keys are in an inverted-T association, which makes them simpler to make use of by really feel than the extra cramped format of the Pixelbook Go, whose left- and right-arrow keys are bigger than the up- and down-arrow keys. As a bonus for accident-prone children, Lenovo says the keyboard is spill-resistant. I did not attempt dumping a full glass of milk on it, however just a few drops of water dismissed with no antagonistic impacts.
The keyboard shouldn’t be backlit, which can be a deal-breaker for individuals who must sort in low-light situations. (However that is actually not an inexpensive function ask at this value.) The IdeaPad 3’s touchpad is ample, although I discovered its Mylar floor to supply somewhat jerky trackpad actions.
Audio high quality is respectable, although the stereo 2-watt audio system hearth via bottom-mounted grilles, which implies their output can sound barely muddy if you’re watching a video or listening to music.
The bottom guarantee that Lenovo contains with the IdeaPad 3 lasts for one 12 months. Whereas Lenovo and third-party retailers provide prolonged warranties which may be a tempting possibility for funds methods like this, the extra price will not be price it should you plan to improve to a brand new laptop computer in lower than two years. In case you like to hold on to your system so long as doable, then again, Google guarantees that the IdeaPad 3 will obtain Chrome OS software program and safety updates via 2026.
Energy for Important Duties
Along with the 4GB of reminiscence and 32GB of flash storage, our IdeaPad 3 evaluate unit additionally incorporates a dual-core Intel Celeron N4020 processor with a base clock pace of 1.1GHz. It’s what you’d anticipate in a Chromebook at this value. To step as much as a extra succesful Intel Core i3-powered Chromebook, you’d usually spend not less than $150 extra.
You don’t essentially must improve, nonetheless. Over a day or so of sunshine use, together with internet searching with a handful of tabs open without delay, I discovered the IdeaPad 3 to be largely freed from sluggishness. It additionally took solely round 10 seconds besides up. I did encounter a major slowdown once I was transferring a multi-gigabyte file from an exterior drive, however the system by no means froze up utterly.
If that have doesn’t sound significantly reassuring, you’re in all probability not within the goal marketplace for a funds Chromebook. Many IdeaPad rivals within the $250 vary use even slower ARM-based processors, which might battle to deal with even primary duties. By these requirements, the IdeaPad 3’s efficiency is ample, and precisely what we anticipate for its value vary.
For a more in-depth take a look at the IdeaPad 3’s efficiency, I ran just a few browser-based and standalone benchmarks, together with WebXPRT, CrXPRT, JetStream. It’s clear from these checks that the IdeaPad 3’s theoretical efficiency is barely higher than that of many equally priced rivals, such because the Acer Chromebook 315, in addition to the Chromebook 14 and the Chromebook Duet talked about earlier.
However it’s additionally clear that there’s fairly a major hole in theoretical efficiency between an Intel Core chip just like the Core i3 within the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook and the AMD A-series processors, MediaTek chips, and Intel Celerons which are current in a lot of the under-$300 Chromebook set.
With regards to battery life, nonetheless, the IdeaPad 3’s benefit is clear. No different Chromebook we’ve examined lately comes near its consequence on our video battery rundown check, which includes taking part in a regionally saved video at 50 p.c display screen brightness with Wi-Fi turned off till the laptop computer dies.
Once more, it is very doubtless that the dim, low-resolution display screen performed a giant half within the IdeaPad 3’s robust displaying right here.
A Discount Chromebook
In case you want a Chromebook for easy computing wants, and funds is your main buying standards, the IdeaPad 3 will doubtless meet your wants. By giving up a high-resolution show, you get sufficient computing energy for primary duties, loads of exterior connectivity, glorious battery life, and a fairly engaging, well-built chassis.
The IdeaPad 3’s strengths make it a powerful selection for an elementary- or middle-school pupil. Whilst you might use it your self, as effectively, it is best to not make it your important machine due to its low-resolution show. In case you can spend an additional $100 or so, your eyes will thanks for selecting a mannequin with a 1080p display screen decision.
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook
The Backside Line
Because of glorious battery life, an honest keyboard, and a pretty styling, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook presents spectacular worth for cash, so long as you don’t want a high-resolution display screen or highly effective computing elements.
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