Lenovo has announced its first 2-in-1 Chromebook designed specifically for consumers. The Flex 11 laptop is powered by an SoC with four ARM cores, features a 360° hinge, a battery that can last for 10 hours and an anti-spill keyboard, a rare feature on inexpensive PCs. The computer will initially ship without the Google Play Store, but the manufacturer promises that Android apps will be coming to the Flex 11 “soon.” Lenovo plans to start selling the new notebook already this month for a price below $300.

Lenovo was not among the first wave Chromebook manufacturers back in 2011, but released its first laptop running Google’s Chrome OS nearly two years later. Since then the company has been gradually expanding its lineup of Chromebooks targeting different audiences. At first, Lenovo only aimed its ThinkPad X131e Chromebook at students in 2013, then it moved on to business users with the ThinkPad Chromebook 13 in mid-2016. Such approach is perfectly logical because students and road warriors use a relatively limited set of applications. With the Flex 11, the company finally releases a Chrome OS-based computer for general consumers, whose needs are very diverse. One of the reasons why Lenovo can target wide audiences with its Chromebooks is because the Chrome OS now supports Android apps and end users can use a wide range of programs they might need. Keep in mind though that there are not a lot of Android applications developed specifically for tablets or 2-in-1s.

Since the Lenovo Flex 11 Chromebook was designed with Android software in mind, it is not surprising that the manufacturer decided to go with the 2-in-1 form-factor and an 11.6” touchscreen display with a 1366×768 resolution. The 360° hinge of the Flex 11 supports four dynamic modes (watch, tent, laptop, and tablet) to better handle different activities. Lenovo claims that the Flex 11 comes in a drop-resistant enclosure made of plastic with an anti-spill keyboard (can handle up to 330 ml of liquid) and “reinforced” ports (whatever that means). The rugged casing made of thick plastic affected dimensions and weight of the Flex 11: it is 21.2 mm thick and weighs 1.35 kilograms, which means that Lenovo traded portability for lower weight, which is logical as the 2-in-1 has a tablet mode (the lower the better).

When it comes to the CPU, the Lenovo Flex 11 is based on an SoC featuring four ARM cores running at 2.1 GHz. The manufacturer does not elaborate which SoC it uses, but since the notebook looks strikingly similar to the N23 Yoga Chromebook quietly launched earlier this year, it is logical to assume that the two computers use the same processor, the MediaTek MT8173C (also found inside the Acer R13). The MT8173 has two ARM Cortex-A72, two ARM Cortex-A53 general-purpose cores, an LPDDR3 memory controller as well as the PowerVR GX6250 (2 clusters) GPU. The chip was originally released in Q1 2015 and today it can be considered as an entry-level solution, something you expect from a sub-$300 computer.

As for other hardware, the Lenovo Flex 11 is equipped with 4 GB of LPDDR3 memory, 32 GB of eMMC storage (it is possible that higher-end model(s) will include more NAND flash), an 802.11ac Wi-Fi module (no word on Bluetooth, but technically the MT8173 supports it) and a 720p webcam. The laptop also features a USB Type-C port for data and charging, a USB 3.0 header, an HDMI output, an SD card reader as well as a TRRS audio connector for headphones and mic.

Lenovo Flex 11 Chromebook
  Entry Level Model
Screen Resolution 1366×768
CPU MediaTek 8173C (?)

2 × ARM Cortex-A72
2 × ARM Cortex-A53

Note: the SoC is not confirmed by Lenovo
Graphics ImgTec PowerVR GX6250
Storage 32 GB of eMMC storage
Wi-Fi 802.11ac Wi-Fi module
Bluetooth unknown
USB USB 3.0 Type-A
USB 3.0 Type-C
HDMI One HDMI output
Other I/O 720p webcam, TRRS connector for audio
Dimensions (H × W × D) 296 mm × 206 mm × 21.2 mm
11.65" × 8.11" × 0.83"
Weight 1.35 kilograms / 3.0 pounds
Price $279

Lenovo’s Flex 11 Chromebook will hit the shelves later this month and its entry-level configuration will retail for $279. Lenovo did not say when exactly Android apps are coming to the Flex 11, so if you need them, wait till the Chromebook actually gets an appropriate update.

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Source: Lenovo

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  • p1esk - Saturday, April 22, 2017 - link

    Why would you even mention this garbage? For those who are interested in cheap tablets/laptops check out Chuwi.
  • Alistair - Sunday, April 23, 2017 - link

    Wish there was a manufacturer that would give us a Snapdragon 835 in a chromebook :)
  • MonkeyPaw - Sunday, April 23, 2017 - link

    Give it time. Samsung reportedly bought up the early supply, so I suspect we'll see both Windows Cloud and Chromebook models with the SD835 later in the year.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    have we even seen 820 chromebooks? Samsung just brought out a 820 tablet, a year after the 820 came out.
  • DanNeely - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    That's part of Samsung's desire to make android tablets suck by always using last years flagship SOCs on this years "flagship" tablets. I don't know why they do it, and with Google leading the way in making android tablets suck by not writing apps that scale in a way that actually uses the bigger than a phone sized screen it's not like using obsolescent SOCs is needed to accomplish the make it suck objective.
  • zodiacfml - Sunday, April 23, 2017 - link

    It's not we are going to buy them but the news is welcome. I've seen leaked specs of an equivalent Windows 10 with 4GB RAM
  • mxnerd - Sunday, April 23, 2017 - link

    So what is this "Chuwi" garbage brand?
  • Samus - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    As sad as it sounds, Chuwi exceeds Lenovo in overall value and quality, that is until you reach a real Thinkpad like a T or X2xx series. And at that point, you are better off with an Elitebook from HP.

    I've been really surprised with my Chiwi Hi8 tablet. The support is exceptionally good. It gets regular firmware/BIOS updates and there are listed drivers for dual booting Android and even Android district updates.
  • Visual - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    It is not just Chuwi, but several other Chinese brands - Cube, Teclast, Onda, Jumper, maybe more.
    All of them have Cherry Trail x5 Atom x86 Windows 10 products that beat this one by performance, double internal storage capacity and FullHD display resolutions and up for similar or lower price. On top of that you get the choice of normal laptops or tablets at about half the weight and with detachable keyboard docks or type-cover and kickstand, some with metal casing, and some actually dual-booting Android or Remix OS along with the Windows 10.
  • pSupaNova - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    Seriously guys chromebooks are a better fit for a lot of people than Windows 10 especially as they can now run Android Apps natively.

    Windows can be a nightmare too keep clean especially if you lend it to family members, while with a ChromeBook you don't have to worry.

    I have a few chinese brand tablets they are in a draw while the chromebook flip gets daily use.

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