Tim Sneath Profile picture
Jul 22 22 tweets 8 min read
OK, time for an unboxing thread with a difference. I needed to test some web apps written in #Flutter on a really low-powered device. TIL that you can buy a Lenovo Chromebook for LESS THAN $100? 🤯
Yes, for barely more than the price of an Apple power adapter, you can buy a WHOLE laptop -- including the power adapter!
It's really not a bad looking device either. Sure, that's a bigger bezel than most modern laptops, but it's smaller than a MacBook Air. It even has USB-C ports on BOTH sides of the device, which seems to be a Pro-level feature for Apple.
Kensington lock, USB-A on both sides, what I think is a MicroSD slot, and even a headphone jack!
OK, time to boot this baby up.
I'm not going to lie -- this screen really is quite hard on the eyes. It's a step down if your normal laptop costs 25X AS MUCH 🤯🤯🤯🤯 but I've seen much worse from Lenovo in the bad old days before they recognized that 200 nits was really nothing to boast about.
A quick sign-in, and we're up and running with all my settings and apps downloaded from the cloud. I can see why Chromebooks are such a winner in the education sector.
OK, something that's a bit of a shock: the OS image on this machine is really pretty old: like two years old. However, I was able to leap forward NINETEEN versions from Chrome OS 84 to ChromeOS 103 in less time than it would take me to patch my Mac from macOS 12.3.0 to 12.3.1.
And here we are -- that's better looking. I hadn't realized that we'd removed the space from Chrome OS. Obviously saving some extra bytes: that's what I call customer-centricity :)
OK, time to load up some Flutter websites and see how they perform. A little slower to start than I'm used to, but otherwise pretty good:
Let's try something with animation. A few minor stutters, but this is FAR better than I was expecting. Again, this is a $100 MACHINE! NOT JUST THE POWER ADAPTER! KEYBOARD INCLUDED! Demo is here if you want to try it on your own machine: flutter.github.io/samples/web/gi…
But wait, it gets even better. This device, which again, costs less than a tank of fuel right now, has another superpower. It runs friggin Linux in a secure container! Like, real Linux, not some weird virtualized or translated environment.
Literally three minutes later, I'm up and running with a terminal. This thing is powered by a processor named after a salad vegetable, so it's never going to be used as part of the render farm for the latest CGI movie, but it's really so much better than it deserves to be.
So long as it runs Emacs and Xeyes, I mean, that's all you need to conquer the world, right? Oh, did I mention -- this machine is FANLESS? My main workstation comes with a free white noise generator, unfortunately this Chromebook is just silent.
I mean, this makes me think I could... no, surely not. It would be like crazy to imagine I could install... well, let's give it a go: nothing to lose...
Holy cannelloni! OK, well, I guess I can install VSCode on this thing. Did I mention that this machine cost me less than an Apple Pencil???! @code
I just want to be clear: I'm able to install Flutter, edit source code, build and debug apps directly on this $100 machine. It's only got 4GB RAM, but it's a trooper.
Let's push this just one more time: can I run Rive -- one of the most sophisticated Flutter web apps out there, providing a full editor for interactive animation? Yes, turns out I can... @rive_app
And what about this beautiful Flutter puzzle hack winner? Can I run that too? I mean, sure, why not?!
I bought this little machine expecting it to be just unusable: demonstrating the Jurassic Park axiom of "just because they could, they didn't think to ask whether they should". But it's really quite astonishing that you can buy a fully-serviceable machine for a two digit price.
Here's what I bought, just for the record. Well done @Lenovo for a great little device. bestbuy.com/site/lenovo-ch…
BTW, I don't recommend the $199 service plan :) /endthread

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More from @timsneath

Oct 10, 2020
It's time to upgrade my Mac. The SE/30 on the left has served me very well over the years, but the small monochrome screen is starting to limit my productivity. And the new ones come with a DVD player, a new PowerPC G4 and a built-in Ethernet and modem! ImageImage
Unpacking my new iMac. Great to not have to worry about floppy disks anymore. This comes with OS X Panther as well as EarthLink so I can join the World Wide Web. Can't wait to check out the World Book encyclopedia too -- all on one disk. Crazy! ImageImageImageImage
OK, this is officially just the cutest thing. Check out those speakers: they're like little acrylic crystals. And that mouse doesn't even have a single button. So minimalist. Cool of them to include a modem cable: very Apple to include all the cables you need in-box! ImageImage
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