Chromebooks have a reputation as cheap, simple laptops meant for browsing the web and not much else — that’s what happens when you build an entire operating system around a browser. But they’ve also been showing up with a surprising variety of hardware as of late. Take the just-announced Lenovo IdeaPad 5i for example. While its low price tag and processing power say “budget laptop,” its 16-inch screen with an optional 120Hz upgrade says “media machine.”
The oddly-sized screen defines the IdeaPad 5i. While the base model uses a standard 1920×1200 resolution at 60Hz, the upgraded version is “2.5K” (which should be 2560×1600, if it’s the same panel as the 16-inch IdeaPad 5). The boost to 120Hz is especially notable — it should make for smooth scrolling and silky-smooth gameplay in cloud streaming services like GeForce Now. That extra size also allows for a full 10-key area on the keyboard.
Elsewhere the IdeaPad 5i is pretty basic. While its two-tone lid is striking and the 2×2-watt speakers should be great for video, the processors on hand are merely a Pentium 8505 and a barely-upgraded Core i3-1215U. While storage is never all that important for Chromebooks, you’ll want to upgrade beyond the basic 64/128GB eMMC model for faster SSD storage at 256/512GB. Those who like to keep their tabs open will also want to upgrade from 4GB of DDR4 memory to 8GB.
In terms of I/O the laptop has double USB-C ports that also charge it up, plus two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A ports for older accessories, with a MicroSD card slot and a 1080p webcam for good measure. Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5 are a surprising luxury, as is the quoted 12 hours of battery life crammed into its 0.8-inch chassis. The IdeaPad 5i launches in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia later in September with a starting price of €549 for the base model. A US release is planned, but no price is given just yet — that Euro base price minus VAT would put it around the $500 mark.
Michael is a former graphic designer who's been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.