Lenovo has expanded its Yoga laptop line to include Google's svelte Chrome OS with the nifty ThinkPad Yoga 11e Chromebook. Though Chromebook to the core, the Yoga 11e is very much a ThinkPad, from the iconic dark design to the familiar keyboard, and that makes for an interesting combination. Unlike some alternative Chromebook options, the Yoga 11e can be transformed into a full tablet mode, and it offers this functionality alongside a sophisticated design, squashing the mental image many conjure at the mention of Chromebook. How does it hold up compared to the competition? Read our full SlashGear review to find out!
The ThinkPad 11e Chromebook is designed to be durable, and you can feel that durability the moment you pick it up. The edges, gently rounded, meet flush whether the device is closed or opened fully into tablet mode. The bottom of the laptop has an interesting rough plastic texture, but the lid and other plastics are smooth. The hinges are quite solid, and support the laptop without issue when it is propped up into tent mode.
There's a rubber bumper around the top cover designed to absorb the impact of bumps, and, says Lenovo, the corners are 50-percent stronger in the event of an angled drop. The ports are reinforced in addition to the hinges, and the LCD's bezels are thick to help prevent screen damage. This design, not surprisingly, is to enable the laptops to withstand the abuse laptops commonly encounter in school systems, where Chromebooks are increasingly deployed. Boasts the maker, "This is one tough machine." Of course, we're not too keen on dropping the laptop to see how well it fairs, but by all accounts, the Yoga 11e certainly feels up to the task of proving its rugged construction.
The Yoga 11e features an 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 LED touch display, which uses Dragontail glass for extra durability. And rounding out the rugged-centric specs is the machine's MIL-SPEC testing, which verified its ability to handle abuse in the form of vibration, humidity, low pressure, temperature shock, high temps, low temps, and dust.
The Rambo-ness of the Yoga 11e Chromebook aside, the laptop's hard specs include an Intel Celeron N2930 processor and integrated HD graphics, 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The battery life is promised to last up to 8 hours, which seems about right under average usage. There's an integrated 720p HD webcam, one HDMI 1.4 port, a USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0, and a 4-in-1 memory card slot.
When it comes to using the laptop, there are no complaints. The keys on the keyboard are well-spaced, making for easy typing (they do have that somewhat rough texture shared by the bottom plastic panel, though), the trackpad is quite large given the laptop's size (and there is support for things like tapping with two fingers to pull of the right-click menu), and the display is very bright and crisp.
As you'd expect, the Yoga 11e is no different than any other Chromebook when you fire it up. After choosing your language and network, you'll log into your Google account and the machine will update to the newest software version if necessary. From there, you get Chrome OS and all the trimmings that come with it. Not familiar with Chrome OS? Check out our handy SlashGear 101 to get the lowdown.
When it comes to performance, the nature of Chrome OS means traditional benchmarks go out the window. Rather, we used Peacekeeper to put the browser through the paces and see how it held up, and the results were overall good, with there being little trouble rendering animations, videos, and the like. Chrome OS is very snappy on the system, and we didn't encounter any issues with multitasking or playing music in the background while doing other things on the laptop.
As far as Chromebooks go, the ThinkPad Yoga 11e stands out from the crowd for a couple different reasons: the design and the convertible construction. Unlike some competing models, the Yoga 11e doesn't look like a toy, and it has the distinct Lenovo feel that fans will be familiar with. The ability to fold the display back completely into a tablet mode is a big plus.
Students, for example, will find it easier to use touch-based apps when the keyboard isn't in the way, and reading online materials is easier when the machine is folded up like a slate. Though the device is on the thick side of the spectrum, that girth isn't reflected in the laptop's weight, so it doesn't feel burdensome to use. Of course, some of the machine's biggest perks come in the machine's sheer durability -- Lenovo has gone to great lengths to make sure the Yoga 11e won't easily be broken, and that makes it a good choice for educational institutions and travelers alike. Pricing starts at $459.