I’ve been toying with getting a new Chromebook for some time but didn’t want to spend a lot of money. Of course this is all because I can’t buy anything else right now because nothing seems to be getting shipped to Canada anymore including the XBOX Series X, Playstation 5 and all the GPUs being produced right now.
So I jumped on a sale that a marketplace seller on Best Buy Canada had going on and picked up a new Lenovo 100e 2nd Edition Chromebook. I have no idea what the AST means. The actual model number is the 82CD0000US. Yep this one came from the United States so it took forever to arrive (half a month – remember when that was OK?).
Compared to the reviews already out there on this Chromebook almost every single one focuses on the Intel or Mediatek powered versions of the Chromebook. Well I went for the more obscure model that is powered by the dual-core AMD A4-9120C with Radeon R4 graphics pushing a base clock of 1.6GHz and a boost of up to 2.4GHz all at a max TDP of 6W. Of course I went with AMD as I am a super AMD fanboy. Would I jump off a bridge of Dr. Su told me to? No, but I might find a safer way down to whatever is under that bridge.
The only other specs listed for this Chromebook include 4GB of memory and 32GB of storage (that reports as just under 21GB for some reason). Lenovo says this Chromebook comes with an 11.6 inch screen at a resolution of 1366×768.
Let’s look at the rest of the notebook. It has dual USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 ports with one that can be used as a charge port. I love to see USB-C being used this way. A standard plug so as long as you have a compatible power brick it can charge. I haven’t tested this as I don’t have the correct cord to do so but there is potential here that you could charge this directly from your PC through USB-C if it outputs enough power. These are also used for external display port connections.
There’s also two standard USB 3.1 Gen 1 connections.
Other ports include a micro-SD card slot, a combo mic and headphone jack and a Kensington lock slot.
For media and communications there’s a built in microphone of dubious quality and a 720p webcam. You also have stereo down-firing speakers. They are thankfully good enough quality that they don’t distort at high volume. It’s also nice to see speakers in a cheap notebook to be able to push so much volume so you aren’t always forced to use your headphones.
The 3-Cell 47Wh battery is sadly inaccessible without taking apart the notebook.
The 100e 2nd Gen of course is a Chromebook and as such follows Google’s guidelines on keyboard and trackpad sizes. I have always liked the Chromebook keyboard and typing on this one (as I am while writing this review) has been a great experience. I have not been a great fan of the trackpads however. It’s similar to Apple in design with a single embedded button and a large surface. I wish they would put two buttons on the trackpad. Having to do Alt+click to right click things is really frustrating. Of course Apple users are wondering what I am complaining about. Use a PC guys, your mind will explode.
The physical construction of this reminds me of old school Panasonic Toughbooks. I think dropping this would only produce a large thud noise and it would just keep on trucking. Of course this is aided internally by everything being solid-state. The plastics feel good but they are thick. Obviously the 1.2kg (2.68lbs) is mostly from the plastic housing.
The 100e is not a looker for sure but for an education focused device you wouldn’t expect that. That’s to say, it’s not ugly but looks definitely wasn’t the focus here with the greys and blacks. Overall a mostly professional design.
Performance is pretty good. Browsing the internet is great. Websites load quickly and scroll smoothly.
YouTube performance is great as long as you aren’t pumping it up to 4k60 content. It drops a lot of frames at that resolution and tends to do a lot of buffering. 1080p60 works great however. The content looks good on this screen as well.
Having access to Google’s Play Store for Android apps is really great. Not every app is available but a good amount are. This is where you will pick up most of your games or really almost any other app as the Chrome Web Store has really turned into a wasteland.
I went ahead and installed some games to test this Chromebook’s R4 integrated graphics and for the most part I was not disappointed. The hardest thing I ran was RAID Shadowlegends. It puts out quite a high level of graphical detail. This was definitely hard on the R4 with frame rates down in the tens at some points and really never climbing over twenty. Since that game is a mess of microtransactions I have no interest in it so it’s not a big deal.
Next I tried some of my favourite slot machine games including Quick Hit Slots, myKONAMI, and Vegas Classic Slots. All three of these performed fantastic. I also tried myVEGAS slots which is closely related to myKONAMI however it performed poorly.
Asphalt 8 performed fantastic with a great high frame rate the whole time playing.
I also tried my favourite pinball games, Pinball Arcade, Zen Pinball and Zaccaria Pinball. While they all perform quite well (with Zen Pinball way out in the lead on performance) PInball Arcade and Zaccaria Pinball both had issues when you wanted to use both flippers at once. You could only activate one then almost half a second later it would allow you to activate the other. If you are familiar with pinball, not being able to have access to both flippers at the same time can be detrimental to your gameplay.
I also tried some emulation. Gameboy Advance on JohnGBA works fantastic. I am still evaluating Sega Genesis but so far it looks promising.
Considering all those games that I tried are Android apps running in emulation on ChromeOS I am extremely impressed.
I picked up this 100e 2nd Generation for $299 and I think I’d be happy with it at $399. It’s extremely portable and looks like it can take a hell of a beating. The performance is enough for my needs and I think the needs of many others out there. No it’s not a power house and it’s not meant to be. It does serve its purpose well. To be an extremely portable productivity machine.
I highly recommend the Lenovo 100e Chromebook 2nd Generation AST (82CD).