The Good The rigid Chromebook 500e does the job for both a laptop and a tablet, with a handy keyboard, responsive stylus and a reliable battery life. Two webcams.
The Bad Crusty, plastic aesthetics. Medium View. Restricted to online applications only.
The Bottom Line Suitable for basic internet use, the 500e is a sturdy, portable, durable Chromebook that works well as a tablet.
The Chromebook concept is rooted in simplicity. Forget Windows with all the complex licenses, patches, and updates. Google’s free, easy operating system just works – as long as you understand what it can do and what it can’t. You cannot install Photoshop, Steam, or any other application that depends on Windows or Mac – only online applications and services running through your browser (and now many Android applications). Thanks to the 500e, Lenovo remains adamant on the Chromebook, providing an inexpensive combination of laptops and tablets that just works – and surprisingly few restrictions.
Although Samsung and Google have been upgrading high-end Chromebooks – see. Chromebook Pro and Pixelbook respectively – Lenovo launches its Chromebook line optimized for audience use. They are durable, convertible between laptop and tablet, and inexpensive. Priced at $ 310 ($ 340 or AU $ 600), the 500e is well suited for both personal and business use.
Lenovo 500e Chromebook
|Price as reviewed||$310|
|Display size/resolution||11.6-inch 1,366×768-pixel touchscreen|
|CPU||Dual-core 1.1GHz Intel Celeron N3450U|
|Memory||2GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 500|
|Webcam||Built-in 720p HD camera and mic, 5MP HD camera and mic|
|Networking||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.2|
|Operating system||Google Chrome|
Heavy little machine
The plastic design of the 500e lacks the metallic elegance of high-end laptops, but it exudes strength; I felt confident handing it to my 8 year old daughter. According to Lenovo, rubberized bumpers can absorb drops (up to 29.5 inches), and a waterproof keyboard can withstand wetting (up to about 11 ounces of fluid). Enhanced ports include two USB-Cs, two USB 3.0s, a microSD card slot and a headphone jack.
The Gorilla Glass 11.6-inch multitouch display is absolutely mediocre: sharp enough, but just not bright enough, even at maximum settings. The 360e 360e hinge, similar to the one found in the price of the Yoga 920, is rigid and stays at any intermediary angle, though the display will play a little if you are a strong machinist.
Respected as a laptop and tablet
Although it’s a relatively small machine, the 500e’s keyboard isn’t much smaller than you’ll find on a 13-inch Macbook Air, and it does have a few handy extra keys for online navigation (ie back, forward, upgrade). I was comfortable typing. In addition to the usual webcam built above the display, Lenovo placed a second keyboard above the keyboard so you could take photos and videos while looking at the tablet display – a thoughtful touch.
With less than 3 pounds (1.35 kg) of hair, the 500e is portable but far from elegant. It’s bulky – almost an inch thick – and like all convertibles with a permanently connected keyboard, it’s a little uncomfortable to hold on to tablet mode. But the 500e includes a pressure sensitive stylus, which has its own dedicated storage slot, works fine. I tested it with Squid, a simple (and free) recorder that I downloaded from the Google Play Store, and found it to be responsive and accurate, with a number of settings that are easily accessible and adjustable.
Fast enough for the basics
Lenovo manufactures several 11.6-inch convertible laptops, including two less expensive Chromebooks (300e and 100e), as well as variants running Windows 10. The configuration we tested included the following:
- 1.1 GHz Intel Celeron N3450 processor
- Intel HD Graphics 500
- 4GB of RAM
- 32 GB eMMC memory
The Chromebook is known for its rugged battery life, and the 500e only ran for 11 hours on our CNET test, conveniently beating out the more expensive Samsung Chromebook Plus. In addition, I managed to fully charge the 500e in about 2 hours.
Just about anything you want on a Chromebook
The Lenovo 500e gives you a great deal for $ 310. Yes, the display is not great, and you have to do without Windows. But it is powerful enough to handle the essential work and entertainment tasks and give you the best part of your daily battery life. Although Lenovo has obviously designed the 500e for kids in the classroom, it’s a solid choice for anyone looking for a durable Chromebook two in one.
|PC Geekbox||Lenovo 500e Chromebook||Samsung Chromebook Plus||Samsung Chromebook Pro|
|Price as reviewed||$309||$499||$549|
|Display size (in inches)/resolution||11.6 in, 1,366×768||12.3 in, 2,400×1,600||12.3 in, 2,400×1,600|
|PC CPU||Intel Celeron N3450, 1.10GHz||Intel Celeron 3965Y, 1.15GHz||Intel Core m3-6y30|
|Operating system||Chrome OS||Chrome OS||Chrome OS|