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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  • Roland00Address - Sunday, April 23, 2017 - link

    So the MediaTek 8173 is the newer chip powering the $99 Amazon Fire TV Box, well currently the Amazon Fire TV Box is $89 and not $99 on amazon's site. This Box originally have a qualcomm SoC but in q4 2015 it was updated to the current Mediatek MT8173 which it still uses. Now the Lenovo Chromebook has 4gb of ram and not 2gbs, has 24gb extra flash storage, a battery, keyboard, and touchscreen but that that is a lot of money for those features, an extra $180.

    And since Lenovo does not have to update the software, but instead Google does via Chrome, they are collecting a lot of profit if they can honestly sell a lot of these units for $279, for individually these units will have good margin on a variable cost wise, but they will need to sell enough of these units to justify this sku due to the fixed costs of design and such. Then again I bet it is not really Lenovo making these but instead it is some form of whitebox ODM.
  • damianrobertjones - Sunday, April 23, 2017 - link

    32Gb storage

    WHy oh why do these lazy oems keep on pushing trash onto customers?
  • DanNeely - Sunday, April 23, 2017 - link

    Because if you offer a slightly better model for $300 most people will buy the cheaper one for $280 instead. (If you ignore both of them to buy something much nicer that costs several times as much your opinion that the cheapest of all possible computers sucks is totally irrelevant to the people buying systems in that price range.)
  • damianrobertjones - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    Yet, over the years, people have posted over and over that Windows laptops need to bin 1366x768. No-one seems to be complaining here. Plus I'd rather have windows.
  • DanNeely - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    The commentariat rages about bottom of the barrel specs on cheap windows laptops; but again the outsell the nicer models costing several times as much because as long Joe Sixpack thinks its good enough (and his reference point for that is in comparison to a several year old and failing cheapest possible model at the time computer, and thus far lower than your or my good enough threshold); and anything on the market will pass his threshold so it comes down to shopping entirely on price and maybe also screen size/weight as long as they don't add more than a few dollars to the price.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    keep in mind, chromeOS is not dependent on local storage. These tings need an internet connection for most apps to work properly (chromeOS is a glorified browser after all).

    As for 768p, we use thinkpad 11e Chromebooks at work. the screens look fine due to their tiny physical size. As long as lenovo gets decent color and black levels, these will look good.
  • watzupken - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    I feel Chromebooks have reached a stage where they are no longer that attractive. The OS is light no doubt, but I feel it is less versatile as compared to the likes of Android or Windows. One can probably get a proper laptop or tablet around the price of the Chromebook.
  • lefizz - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    I love the fact android apps will be available soon, I bought my Lenovo N22 chromebook last October with the same promise. Guess what still no playstore, and thats not just on the stable channel, I've used the developer channel, canary channel, everything and no apps.

    I honestly feel the usable life on these ultra cheap portables is about a year, maybe 2 at a push. So I am between a quaver and a half way through its life and no Office. The keyboard is playing up and I cant get support because I bought it from amazon.co.uk but live in Spain. Lenovo UK wont touch it and neither will Lenovo Europe, each saying its each others responsibility. With this level of support I really wish i had bought a Chuwi. No support but at least you factor that into the price when you buy it.
  • MrSpadge - Monday, April 24, 2017 - link

    2 x A72 + 2 x A53 - yay, that's what SoCs like Snapdragon 400 should use, rather than 4 or 8 A53s.
    (I know chrome can spawn many threads - but that doesn't mean they're efficiently speeding things up, whereas for A72 that's obvious)
  • jameswatson1 - Monday, November 20, 2017 - link

    The new Chromebook is very cool. If anybody is using the <a href="https://notresponding.net/spotify-error-fix/"... application not responding</a> and facing the Spotify not responding problem then they can check the website.

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