Lenovo Chromebook Duet Review 2020

lenovo chromebook duet review

We’re taking a look today at the Chromebook Duet from Lenovo. This is a Chromebook tablet that comes with a keyboard and trackpad and is very reasonably priced. You pretty much get all the accessories you need to get a very computer-like experience

The price point on this Lenovo Chromebook Duet is super competitive for the entire package, which I think is an excellent deal especially considering you get the keyboard, the trackpad, and the tablet all in the box for that price.

  • Ultra portable
  • 11-hour battery life
  • You can’t beat the price
  • Included keyboard and kickstand
  • Lacks the horsepower for serious multitasking

Lenovo Chromebook Duet Review: Overview

Hardware and storage

There are two storage configurations available: the base model here has 64 gigabytes of storage. Another one is just a little more expensive, with 128 gigabytes of storage but otherwise the same machine.

I would suggest going with the more expensive one only because it doesn’t cost all that much more, and you’ll have that storage for the Android apps you might install on this along with some of the Linux apps it can run, and we’ll take a look at some of those things as we make our way through the review.

Display

It’s got a 10.1-inch display that runs at 400 nits of brightness. It looks great, nice color on it. It has a touch display since it is a tablet, and it works well with both the Chrome OS apps and the Android apps and a few on the Linux ones, which we’ll explore a little later.

The display resolution is 1920×1200, which is a 16 by ten aspect ratio. It works pretty nicely, especially when it’s in landscape format, a little bit narrower when you have it in portrait orientation here versus an iPad perhaps but given some of the 16 by nine aspect ratio tablets we’ve seen in the past, this isn’t bad.

Accessories

There are a couple of components that attach to the tablet. Of course, one is the keyboard, which is magnetically guided and generally finds its way, and then on the back, you have a removable kickstand.

There is also a fabric cover that, when attached it will latch on magnetically to the tablet, having an adjustable angle to hold it. Having detachable components makes it easier to watch movies and videos, either with the adjustable kickstand or without it, leaving it behind altogether.

Build quality

The tablet itself feels nice. It’s metal on the back, and it’s got a nice thick screen on the front, pretty lightweight, it is just under a pound. It’s about 450 grams or 0.99 pounds, to be exact.

The backing here adds about half a pound or another 220 grams, and then you’ve got the full package assembled. You are looking at just over 2 pounds or 920 grams, so not all that heavy.

Keyboard and Trackpad

My only complaint with it is that the keyboard here slides around a lot on the front of the display, and I think that might risk scratching or something undesirable here, so that’s my only gripe with it. It doesn’t cause much of an issue if you hold it down here, but if you’re holding it in your hand, you’re going to feel it slipping around a bit.

That is one thing I didn’t like about the design of this particular device. The Google pixels slate that was released last year, which is much more expensive than this is. I also had a similar slippery keyboard thing here on the front, but that was again my only big gripe with the overall industrial design here, and, for the price point, I am not complaining all that much now.

As I say, I was very impressed with the quality of the keyboard and trackpad combo. The trackpad feels lovely; Lenovo has been making some excellent trackpads for a long time.

It’ll make all of the gestures you’re used to here so you can do your pinch-to-zoom, you can do your two fingers scrolling, you can do right click with two fingers down or a single click.

Excellent keyboard, the keys are nice-very well-spaced keys even though they’re a little smaller than your typical keyboard.

My only gripe on the keys is that some of the things you might reach for frequently are about half the size, so the plus and the minus here, for example, are the areas where you might sometimes make a mistake while typing just given these keys are much smaller than some of their neighboring keys but that’s a small gripe. Lots of travel on this -there’s a lot of room for these keys to push down.

Hence, you get a fair amount of tactile feedback as you’re typing on them. Altogether, for a low-cost tablet device, the keyboard is nicely done, especially given it was packed into the box here.

Processor and Battery Life

This is powered by a Mediatek p 60 T Helio processor. This ARM-based chip consumes less power than some of the more powerful Intel chips we typically see on Chromebooks. However, this holds its own against those machines and consumes less power.

Lenovo is saying you get 10 hours of battery life out of this thing, and I think if you keep the display brightness down and stick to web browsing, you should get close to that mark.

If you are running android apps and killing the processor, that will significantly impact battery life, but the basic Chrome OS tasks I think will get you through most of the day on a single charge.

RAM, Ports and Displays

All the models of this have four gigabytes of RAM, which is more than 5 for a Chromebook, and altogether I think it’s got a good processor, which is going to do what it has to do.

There’s only one port on one side, but you will find it on the other side of the screen. It has a USB Type-C port that is a multi-function port so you can plug in an external display with a dongle.

If you want, this is also where you charge the tablet, and you can plug in some data devices-like a keyboard or a mouse, a USB hub, or something else. Although it’s a USB-C port, it’s running only at USB 2.0 speeds for data, so you’re not going to be pushing vast volumes of data quickly in and out of that port.

But again, for what you’ve got here, I think it’s probably adequate for the tasks. I would have liked to have maybe a second USB-C port just for flexibility.

Still, of course, you’re trying to hit a price point with something you got to make some sacrifices somewhere, and that was where they did that also lacks a headphone jack, so you’ll need to connect your Bluetooth headphones to get some private audio.

They do have stereo speakers here at the top, don’t all that great. A little on the tinny side, but it’s stereo, and you’ll hear left and right out of those two speakers up there. However, when it’s in its portrait orientation, all the sound will come out of the tablet’s right side.

Audio & Camera

Now, you’ve got two cameras on the back and one in the front. The rear camera isn’t spectacular.

It’s 8 megapixels, it can do 1080p video, but it doesn’t look all that great, so it’s not going to be something that you will be taking a lot of pictures with all the time. But it’s there if you need it.

The front-facing camera can do 720p video; it’s only through about 2 megapixels for stills, but I did find it looks pretty good for videoconference and that sort of thing—so good cameras but not as good as what you’ll find on the iPad.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet Review: Performance Tests

Web Browser

When you pull up a web browser on here, kind of an essential core Chrome OS function, you can see it comes together pretty quickly. I can use my trackpad if I want to zoom in on some text or see the screen, select a link, or browse around the website. It is an excellent experience to browse the web.

YouTube

On YouTube, I’ve got a 180p 60 video that I ran. It was pretty good. I’m finding it’s dropping a few frames here and there when you are in 180p 60 frames per second, but it still has an excellent price point.

You will see some delays when switching to full-screen, for example, and you might drop a few frames. Generally, it’s able to keep up even though the browser-based playback. I am not finding any real performance scotches here and don’t expect super perfect 180p60 playback, but generally, it can keep up with a few drop frames.

Speedometer Test

On a speedometer test, we got a score of 46.66 on version 1.0 of that test and 27.74 on version 2.0.

We’ve got some devices I’d like you to take a look at in comparison. First, for the iPad 6th Generation surface go tablet, the entry-level version and the Google Pixel Slate are powered presumably more powerful Intel processors, but this one holds its own against them for the types of things you might do on the web.

It’s fine from the point of videos and conferences; you save a lot of money versus some of these more expensive tablets to in one combo device. However, take a look at the iPad.

This is the 6th Generation iPad from about a year and a half ago that costs about the same without the keyboard.

Even the new version of that iPad and you can see there that one performs significantly better 129.5 on version 1.0 and 67.6 on version 2.0 and that’s one thing that Apple’s been doing very well in this low-cost tablet market they are light years ahead in performance.

Still, I think for what most people do with a tablet, you won’t need that kind of performance. So if your intention is web browsing, a few apps here and there, and some video-watching, this is great, but if you are doing photo editing and other more high-end tasks and that web browsing, you might want to look at the iPad.

The entry-level one will perform significantly better at those higher-end things.

Games

One of the Chrome OS operating system’s neat features is that because Google makes it, it can now run a lot of Android Apps, and it’s getting better at doing that as time goes on.

What you’ll find is that there is some general flakiness to how Android apps work here, so for example, right now, I’ve got the YouTube app running here, and I’ve got the Google Play Store running again.

Both of these are Android applications, and if I click on the web browser here, it automatically minimizes the Android apps away. I haven’t seen other Chromebooks do this, and I don’t know if this is a new feature they added or something.

Still, I noticed they were disappearing when I brought the Chrome OS browser window up to the front here, so a couple of little problems here and there, but generally, it seems to be doing its job.

For example, when I was playing Crossy Road, it opened pretty quickly, looked great on display, and although this is not a super-powerful tablet, it’s more than adequate for probably 90% if not more of the Android app library because most developers target the basics when they are making their game just because so many people have lower and Android devices to play these games on.

I found that some of the higher-end games like Call of Duty don’t work too well here. You might get them to load and then freeze, acting very strangely. So the higher-end games are probably not a good fit for this Chromebook, but if you are looking for games like Crossy Road, you will be okay.

Netflix, YouTube and other platforms

We can also load the Android version of YouTube or Netflix or Amazon Prime videos for offline viewing on the tablet, which is a great feature for that 128-gigabyte version.

If you want to go that route so you get some of the best things about having an Android tablet along with some lovely optimized on the Chrome OS operating system and my recommendation to you all would be to do your web browsing on the Chrome OS browser but then do some of your video watching through the Android Apps which are better suited for that sort of thing on the tablet interface.

Here now Chrome OS will shift into its tablet form when you detach the keyboard, so if I pull the keyboard off of it here, you’ll see that everything goes now fullscreen and what I can do is pull up here from the bottom to get a list of all the active windows that are currently running so you saw that while we had a window, and interface when the keyboard was attached when you detach it goes to table mode and everything runs fullscreen.

I can flip it around and get that portrait mode or leave it. in fullscreen for YouTube and other apps. SO you will always be able to navigate through gestures and reattach the keyboard.

Generally, what happens is that you get your windows back again; although it’s minimizing the Android apps, you can get the gist of how things work. You can also write things out with a pen or your finger, and it will recognize the text as you write, which is pretty handy.

You can also use a microphone and dictate it as well, so you’ve got many different interfaces when you pull the keyboard off and then the keyboard attaches.

You get your trackpad and keyboard back again, and I think they’ve done a nice job with the interface here, accommodating both the tablet and the laptop interface, depending on what you have attached.

Chrome OS

When Chrome OS first came out, it was pretty much just a web browser, but they’ve been adding a lot to it over time. A few years ago, we got the Android functionality that we just saw, and now we’re starting to see Linux applications running on Chrome OS.

The little low-cost tablet can also run those Linux apps so we can boot up the command line here and use the Nano text editor, can again load up a GUI based Linux application too, so for example, we can load Libre Office up, which is a free office suite that’s got a spreadable word processor and a whole bunch of other applications that are entirely free.

You can run this locally on your Chromebooks, o even if you’re not on the internet, you can work on spreadsheets, save them to the local storage, email them to people you want.

You’ve got pretty much a full-on office suite that will load up on your Chromebook whenever you want.

There were some issues, though, with screen orientation and the mouse at one moment, so but they got fixed quickly. I am sure they will fix these issues. This is strictly a software problem.

There are a few things Linux can iron down, but the good news is that Linux apps do run, and I’m sure they will correct these screen orientation issues as further updates come out.

Speaking of updates, one of the features you will get of Chrome OS is that every device comes with an expiration date. It doesn’t mean that the Weisse stops working on the date, but it does mean that they stopped getting updates.

Expiration date

This is coming with an eight-year product lifespan, one of the longest I’ve seen for a Chromebook, so this device will support up until June of 2028, which means it will continually get updates until that time.

After that date, it will not update anymore but will still work, and when they stop updating it, they stop security updates. Everything just gets locked in where it was when that expiration date hit.

So looking at this thing in the future, maybe 2027, and you’re looking to buy this one used or something, it’s only going to have about a year of updates left on it before it expires, so be sure if you’re out shopping, do the math and figure out where in the line you are now and if they update this in the future with a new model that one will have a new expiration date but this particular model, the first generation duet will expire in June of 2028.

Final thoughts

Overall I think it’s an excellent little tablet. It performs well, and it’s very competitively priced. I think it’s a pretty good iPad alternative if you don’t want as much on accessories as you’ll have to spend with the iPad.

Again, it’s a very functional, compact Chrome OS device that can run all the Chrome OS stuff you want, but it also has Android and Linux features. Overall it’s a friendly device: nice screen, excellent keyboard, good performance, terrific look.

I can’t complain too much, especially given the affordable price. But again, I do recommend spending a little bit more on the extra space so you can take advantage of all of its features.

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