Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook Overview

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Some funds Chromebooks are clearly cheap-looking, with ugly styling and questionable construct high quality. Not so with the enticing, solidly constructed Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook ($249.99). This cut price laptop computer achieves its low worth by compromising in just a few smart areas, similar to 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 satisfactory for the standard Chrome OS person, and their low unit prices appear to have freed Lenovo from having to scrimp on the IdeaPad 3’s engineering and manufacturing. It feels way more stable than your common $250 laptop computer.

A Glossy, Trendy Exterior (at a Low-cost Worth)

From the surface, the Platinum Grey IdeaPad 3 isn’t attractive, nevertheless it does seem modern and trendy. No screws or gaps mar the clear traces of the show lid or the sides of the laptop computer, which is clad in a combination of polycarbonate and ABS plastics. The IdeaPad 3 is comparatively gentle for a 14-inch laptop computer, although it’s a bit on the cumbersome facet. 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. 

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IdeaPad 3 Chromebook showing the back of the display lid

There’s a little bit of flex within the base and show lid of the IdeaPad 3 whenever you apply stress together with your palms, nevertheless it doesn’t really feel flimsy. The one bodily facet of the IdeaPad 3 that belies its funds nature is the moderately giant black plastic border across the display screen. There’s additionally a startlingly giant digital camera lens set into the highest border. The large 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 numerous worth 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 help, 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 widespread full HD (1080p) decision and 350-plus nits of brightness on midrange Chromebooks just like the Chromebook 14 or the Asus Chromebook C523, which often value round $150 greater than the IdeaPad 3. The usage of a TN panel as an alternative 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. 

Ideapad 3 Chromebook showing a picture of leaves

We hardly ever advocate laptops with screens under full HD decision, however there are two methods to justify the IdeaPad 3’s moderately lackluster display screen high quality. The primary, clearly, is worth. TN panels are low cost to supply, and Lenovo seems to have reinvested the financial savings in different elements 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 necessary for Chromebooks. In regular instances, 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 youths who use them as remote-learning gadgets within the basement or yard whereas their mother and father work within the residence workplace. 

A propensity to wander additionally signifies that Chromebooks want stable Wi-Fi, since they could be removed from a wi-fi base station. Whereas I didn’t expertise any random disconnects or slowdowns whereas testing the IdeaPad 3 linked to a Netgear Nighthawk router, it’s unlucky that the laptop computer makes use of the older 802.11ac Wi-Fi customary. This provides satisfactory velocity and reliability at present, however the next-generation 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) customary gives higher future-proofing. 

The IdeaPad 3 additionally has a cramped 32GB flash storage drive, so that you’ll have to maintain most of your giant recordsdata—photographs, 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 straightforward so as to add very low-cost storage should you want it. 

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook showing ports on the left edge

The microSD card slot is situated 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 fitting edge, you may see an extra USB 3.1 Kind-A port and a USB-C port. With 4 USB ports in complete and a microSD card reader, the IdeaPad 3 provides superior bodily connectivity, even in contrast with the Pixelbook Go and different Chromebooks that value way more. 

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook showing ports on the right edge

I additionally respect that the IdeaPad 3 makes use of a USB-C cable for charging. This makes it simpler to make use of a charging twine 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 will be troublesome and costly to switch in case your little one loses them. 

Loads of Typing Consolation

The IdeaPad 3’s keyboard provides loads of typing consolation, with sturdy, well-spaced keys and secure 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 structure 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 youngsters, Lenovo says the keyboard is spill-resistant. I did not strive dumping a full glass of milk on it, however just a few drops of water disregarded with no adversarial impacts.

Lenovo Ideapad 3 Chromebook keyboard

The keyboard shouldn’t be backlit, which can be a deal-breaker for individuals who have to kind in low-light situations. (However that is actually not an affordable function ask at this worth.) The IdeaPad 3’s touchpad is satisfactory, although I discovered its Mylar floor to supply moderately jerky trackpad actions.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook Touchpad

Audio high quality is first rate, although the stereo 2-watt audio system fireplace by bottom-mounted grilles, which implies their output can sound barely muddy whenever you’re watching a video or listening to music. 

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook Underside

The bottom guarantee that Lenovo contains with the IdeaPad 3 lasts for one 12 months. Whereas Lenovo and third-party retailers provide prolonged warranties that could be a tempting possibility for funds methods like this, the extra value is probably not 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 by 2026. 

Energy for Important Duties

Along with the 4GB of reminiscence and 32GB of flash storage, our IdeaPad 3 evaluate unit additionally contains a dual-core Intel Celeron N4020 processor with a base clock velocity of 1.1GHz. It’s what you’d count on in a Chromebook at this worth. To step as much as a extra succesful Intel Core i3-powered Chromebook, you’d usually spend at the least $150 extra. 

You don’t essentially have to improve, nevertheless. Over a day or so of sunshine use, together with internet looking with a handful of tabs open without delay, I discovered the IdeaPad 3 to be principally freed from sluggishness. It additionally took solely round 10 seconds in addition up. I did encounter a major slowdown after 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 most likely not within the goal marketplace for a funds Chromebook. Many IdeaPad opponents within the $250 vary use even slower ARM-based processors, which may battle to deal with even fundamental duties. By these requirements, the IdeaPad 3’s efficiency is satisfactory, and precisely what we count on for its worth vary.

For a better have 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 assessments that the IdeaPad 3’s theoretical efficiency is barely higher than that of many equally priced opponents, such because the Acer Chromebook 315, in addition to the Chromebook 14 and the Chromebook Duet talked about earlier.

Ideapad 3 Chromebook performance chart

Ideapad 3 Chromebook performance chart

Ideapad 3 Chromebook performance chart

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 can be current in a lot of the under-$300 Chromebook set.

On the subject of battery life, nevertheless, the IdeaPad 3’s benefit is clear. No different Chromebook we’ve examined just lately comes near its consequence on our video battery rundown check, which includes taking part in a domestically saved video at 50 p.c display screen brightness with Wi-Fi turned off till the laptop computer dies. 

Ideapad 3 Chromebook performance chart

Once more, it’s extremely probably 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 procuring standards, the IdeaPad 3 will probably meet your wants. By giving up a high-resolution show, you get sufficient computing energy for fundamental duties, loads of exterior connectivity, wonderful battery life, and a fairly enticing, well-built chassis.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook

The IdeaPad 3’s strengths make it a robust selection for an elementary- or middle-school scholar. When you may use it your self, as effectively, it is best to not make it your major 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

Professionals

  • Cheap

  • Constructed-in microSD card reader

  • USB-C charging, and plenty of ports

  • Glossy silver exterior

  • Lengthy battery life

  • Spill-resistant keyboard

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Cons

  • Cramped 32GB storage drive

  • No Wi-Fi 6 help

  • Low-resolution, dim TN-based show

The Backside Line

Due to wonderful battery life, a good keyboard, and a beautiful styling, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Chromebook provides 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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