Lenovo might be the world’s largest PC maker, but it started offering Chromebooks nearly two years ago. Today at CES it’s expanding its offering with a new ThinkPad-branded Chromebook. This time around you can pick between Chrome OS and Windows 10. That’s unusual for a Chromebook, but the two models aren’t exactly identical.
Lenovo is using the same internals for both its Chrome OS and Windows models here, but the keyboard and ports vary significantly. That means you can’t pick just one model and run Chrome OS or Windows 10 on it, or even dual-boot both operating systems. That’s disappointing, but it’s largely because of the different policies both Microsoft and Google have on hardware for their software.
Both models will ship with Intel’s latest Core i5 processors, up to 16GB of RAM (on Windows, 8GB for Chrome OS variant), and up to 512GB of storage (for the Windows version, 32GB for Chrome OS variant). That’s more than enough for these low-cost laptops. While the Chrome OS model has a stripped down keyboard designed for Google’s OS, the Windows version also includes the familiar red TrackPoint pointing stick. Lenovo told me they can’t put the pointing stick on the Chrome OS version because Google has a strict set of hardware rules for Chromebooks.
Other differences include a HDMI port on the Windows model, three USB ports, and a new USB Type-C connector. The Chrome OS version includes two USB ports, and two Type-C. Price is also another difference between the two. While the Windows version will arrive in April for $449, the Chrome model doesn’t launch until June and it’s priced at $399.