The world's largest PC maker is announcing its first mainstream Chromebooks today, making the company the latest in a long list of Windows manufacturers to hop on board Google's stripped-down operating system. Lenovo is unveiling two Chromebooks today, the N20 and N20p. Both models are identical save a 300-degree rotating touchscreen on the N20p that lets you use it in a more comfortable touch-only mode. Unfortunately, Chrome OS largely remains ill-suited to touch, but it should be an appealing option for some. In terms of hardware, that's the only big surprise here. The Chromebooks are fitted with 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 screens,
Haswell-Bay Trail-based Intel Celeron processors, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage — all of which are fairly standard. Considering our experience with similar Chromebooks, you'll likely want to opt for 4GB of RAM to ensure a smooth experience.
Education-focused Chromebooks have been "a huge success for Lenovo"
As you can likely tell from the specifications, Lenovo is taking the same approach as all other Chromebooks (save the ludicrously expensive Pixel) — these are meant to appeal to those looking for an inexpensive, easy-to-use laptop for browsing the web, reading email, and composing documents. As such, there's little notable about the build quality; it's plastic throughout, and the hinge doesn't inspire the same sort of confidence as Lenovo's Yoga models. Representatives do tell us that the hinge is rated for 25,000 actuations, however, which is comparable to the Yoga machines.
The N20 and N20p Chromebooks are slated to come out in July for $279 and August for $329, respectively. But what's most notable about these machines is that they exist. Until now, the only Chromebooks offered by Lenovo have been education-focused machines built for durability. Company representatives tell The Verge that those models have been "a huge success for Lenovo," so it comes as little surprise that it is expanding its Chrome OS lineup. With a proper entry to the consumer market, the N20 and N20p will be competing against Lenovo's more expensive Windows laptops (the cheapest Microsoft-powered machine from Lenovo starts at $399.99). And that should have Microsoft worried. Lenovo now joins heavyweights HP and Dell, as well as Samsung, Acer, and Toshiba in making Chromebooks. Chrome OS was once mocked by the industry, but there's no doubt Microsoft is taking the barebones operating system seriously.
Update, May 6th: Intel has announced that these Chromebooks will be based on the lower-performance, higher battery life Bay Trail silicon, rather than Haswell as originally reported.