The world's largest PC maker has taken the wraps off two new notebooks that ignore Microsoft in favor of Google's lightweight virus-free operating system, Google Chrome OS.
Neither the N20 nor the N20p are going to be giving IBM's Watson supercomputer a run for its money any time soon in terms of speed or power.
Both Chromebooks use Intel Celeron processors, supported by up to 4GB of RAM and 16GB hard disks. However, in terms of cost ($279-$329), portability -- they measure just 295 mm x 212 mm x 17.9 mm (11.6 in x 8.34 in x 0.70 in) and boast an eight-hour battery life -- and ease of use, they have very few competitors, except for other Chromebooks.
Lenovo Chromebook N20p. Photo: AFP
While other types of computers are struggling in the market as consumers go for tablets, Chromebooks are bucking the trend. Despite only being available in a handful of regions including North America and selected European territories, 2.1 million Chromebooks shipped in 2013, and, according to ABI Research, that number will rise to 11 million annually within the next five years.
And while price is clearly appealing -- with the exception of Google's own $1299 Chromebook Pixel, none of the models currently on sale, Lenovo's included, costs more than $350 -- thanks to the fact that the devices use web-based applications and cloud storage, they are extremely fast and essentially virus free. Very little software is actually stored on the computers themselves, everything is online and is being constantly refreshed, improved and updated by Google.
Acer, Asus, HP, Samsung and Toshiba already offer Chromebooks and while Lenovo has been making the devices for classroom use, the N20 (set to launch in July) and the N20p (launching August) are the company's first Chromebooks built for consumers.
In terms of specs, the N20 is very similar to what's already on offer. As well as the aforementioned processor and RAM, it has an 11.6-inch 1366x768 pixel screen, a 1-megapixel webcam, two USB ports, HDMI and a memory card reader and will cost $279.
However, for an extra $50, the N20p is a little different. It comes with a touch screen that can be rotated back up to 300° (like the company's Yoga devices) so that it can be put in and used in some very interesting positions.