Hands-On with Lenovo’s Chromebooks: Built to Last and Inspire

BARCELONA — In January, we heard about Lenovo’s plans to launch a series of Chromebooks at low prices aimed at the education sector. Now that same rio of rugged machines will be available to the public as well, the PC maker announced today (Feb. 26) to kick off Mobile World Congress.

Called the Lenovo 100e, 300e and 500e, the three Chromebooks are built to withstand just about anything a kid might throw at it. These are MIL-SPEC tested laptops, built with reinforced ports, anchored keys that won’t pop out, spill proofing, and rubberized edges and corners. Lenovo says they’ll survive roughly 30-inch drops, which happens to be about the average height of a school desk.

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The range starts with the 100e priced at $219, followed by the $279 300e and the $349 500e. No matter which you choose, all are built with heavy, durable plastic that doesn’t feel as though it’ll bend or break easily. They actually all look quite similar from the outside, but once you get into the nitty gritty, differences become clear.

Take the introductory 100e, for example. Just like the other models, it comes fitted with an 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 display. However, on the 300e and 500e, that screen supports multi-touch and actually folds backwards, making those devices cost-effective 2-in-1s for younger users.

Under the hood, the mid-level 300e replaces the 100e’s Intel Celeron N3350 chipset with a MediaTek MTK8173C, but features the same 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The screen on the 300e is reinforced with Asahi Dragontrail Glass and uses a proprietary technology Lenovo has dubbed Enhanced Touch, wihch allows users to draw on the screen with a regular pencil as if it were a stylus without fear of damaging the display.

The range-topping 500e, on the other hand, ditches the Enhanced Touch feature in favor of a dedicated stylus, but gains support for Google’s EMR algorithms that make writing smoother and lag-free. The 500e cloaks its screen in Gorilla Glass 3, and comes equipped with a Celeron N3450 processor and up to 8GB of RAM or 64GB of storage.

All of Lenovo’s education-minded laptops feature an assortment of USB Type-C and USB 3.0 slots, MicroSD card readers (standard SD on the 300e), and 10 hours of battery life.

With rugged designs, 2-in-1 versatility, a choice of creativity-inspiring touch screens, and low asking prices, Lenovo’s latest Chromebooks seem as though they’ll make excellent first PCs, inside or outside the classroom. The 300e and 500e are available now, while the 100e will launch in March.

Lenovo Laptop Guide