First look: Lenovo Thinkpad 11e Chromebook (and Yoga tablet)

Lenovo’s ThinkPad 11e is an 11.6 inch notebook aimed at the education market. It’ll be available in the coming months with prices starting at $349 for a Chromebook with an Intel Celeron Bay trail processor and going up to $699 for a Windows convertible tablet with an Intel Haswell processor.

Both Windows and Chrome OS models will be available either as clamshell-style notebooks or as Yoga-style convertibles, allowing you to fold the screen back 360 degrees until it’s opposite the keyboard so you can hold the computer like a tablet.

I got a chance to check out an early prototype of the ThinkPad 11e Yoga Chromebook which should be available for $429 starting in June.

thinkpad 11e_angle

The Yoga Chromebook features an 11.6 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel IPS touchscreen display, an Intel Celeron N2920 processor, and up to 8 hours of battery life.

It weighs about 3.3 pounds and measures less than 0.9 inches thick, and has a tough plastic case designed to take a beating from kids in the classroom. Lenovo says the lid and ports have been reinforced to stand up to the kind of abuse that little hands can offer, and the keyboard has been ruggedized. The computer also features a Gorilla Glass screen.

thinkpad 11e_ports_01

These laptops are the first ThinkPad models without any sort of TrackPoint system, but Lenovo says that’s because teachers have suggested that the fewer parts there are for kids to pick off, the better — so there’s no pointing stick in the center of the keyboard.

While the model I saw wasn’t quite the finished version, the keyboard felt pretty good and while the tablet definitely had a plastic feel it feels pretty sturdy.

thinkpad 11e touchscreen

The touchscreen was pretty responsive on one unit I tested (although touch didn’t work as well on the unit I initially tried to shoot on video), and now we finally know why Google’s been working to add an on-screen keyboard to Chrome OS. While it’s a nice feature to have on touchscreen laptops like the Chromebook Pixel and Acer C720p Chromebook, it’s practically a must-have feature on a device like the ThinkPad 11e Yoga Chromebook where you’re expected to use the device in tablet mode from time to time.

The clamshell version of the ThinkPad 11e Chromebook won’t have a touch panel. And there are a few other variations as well.

Windows models will have Ethernet ports, but the Chrome OS models will not. And the Core i-series Haswell models will get around 6 hours of battery life instead of the 8 hours you get with Bay Trail models.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad 11e series Windows and Chrome laptops are all coming from the company’s education division. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a school or a student to order one. If you’re hoping to get your hands on one of the first Chrome OS tablets, you’ll be able to buy one from Lenovo for $429 starting in June. Windows models should be available in late April or early May.

  • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

    I am intrigued. I love my HP 11, but it is a little underpowered. What I’m liking about this Thinkpad: IPS display and keyboard. Not liking: The weight. But I understand the ruggedness adds weight.

    • JPB

      yeah, I was just thinking that I would upgrade to this if they could maybe shave off about 1/2 pound. Love my HP11 but this could make me upgrade. One thing that’s been clear though, the HP11 is actually getting better as Chrome itself improves.

      • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

        Very true.

      • James Welbes

        all the Chromebooks are getting better. But the HP 11 will always be limited by it’s hardware.

        I recommend upgrading.

      • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

        For me, it’s a matter of upgrading from the HP 11 when the right machine comes out. I haven’t seen the right machine yet. Possibly the Thinkpad 11e, but the weight is a concern and if I’m reading correctly, the IPS is only on the Yoga model. The 13 inch Samsung with 1080p is intriguing.

        But I’m waiting to see what comes out at Google I/O, if anything. Also, I’m still a Mac user and if the rumors of a 12 inch retina Macbook Air that’s fanless are correct, I may get one if the money is right.

      • James Welbes

        it’s an Apple computer, when is the price ever right?

        haha j/k. Seriously I was gonna recommend the Sammy but sounds like already have your eye on it. It’s got a nice screen, which you’re used to with the HP 11, and an Arm processor, which you’re also used to.

      • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

        The keyboard on it will be the big one for me, since I’m a writer. I wasn’t impressed with the first Samsung Chromebook’s keyboard.

        Apple price is right when my sales are up high enough! ;-) Well, and under $1200, preferably under 1k.

  • Sam_K

    First Lenovo ruined the latest ThinkPads by removing the dedicated TrackPoint buttons. I have a 2 month old ThinkPad T540p and the integrated buttons in the touchpad are horrible. While using the TrackPoint with the the integrated buttons on the touchpad I constantly click the center part which is for scrolling instead of the left mouse button and most of the time the right click doesn’t register so I have to do it multiple times. Now they remove the TrackPoint all together from the ThinkPad ChromeBook. I read the reason why but then don’t call it a ThinkPad. A ThinkPad without a TrackPoint isn’t really a ThinkPad.

    • zdanee

      Absolutely right! Sure, Lenovo can make a kid-friendly notebook. But don’t name it ThinkPad when it’s not. First it’s confusing. Sencondly it’s degrading to real thinkpad users. “You use a thinkpad? My kid uses one too in school. Horrible machine, why don’t you buy a Mac?” is how I imagine it would go. Just think what would happen, if Apple started to sell a MacPro workstation, that looks like a plastic lunchbox, has an Intel Celeron inside and is overall horrible. What would a real Mac Pro user say to that?

  • domahman

    I only buy keyboards with trackpoint, I hate the pads. Trackpoint or touch screen is way faster.

  • jwexplorer

    I’d like to see a Lenovo Thinkpad Helix version, complete with all of its powerful specs with Chrome OS.

  • Jimbo

    Do the Chromebook and Windows versions come with the same screen/resolution?

  • James Welbes

    “While it’s a nice feature to have on touchscreen laptops like the Chromebook Pixel and Acer C720p Chromebook”

    just out of curiosity, why on earth would you ever choose the on screen keyboard over the physical keyboard on a pixel or Acer c720P?