The Lenovo Duet Chromebook is one of the most interesting tablets for the year. Starting at just 279 Dollars we’re getting a desktop-class Chrome browser, a keyboard, a pen option, and updates for 8 years. In this Lenovo Duet Chromebook review, you’ll learn for who this is the perfect tablet.
Design & Build Quality
Especially when considering that the Lenovo Duet Chromebook costs just 279 Dollars, the tablet feels surprisingly high-end. That’s because we get a mostly metal body. The upper part is made of blue plastic – I think that looks fine but I know not everybody loves this.
With 7.3mm it’s thin enough and with 450g it weighs as much as most competitors.
It’s a bit disappointing that we get just one USB C port. There’s no headphone jack and no microSD card slot. Well, at least a USB C to 3.5mm audio adapter is included. And on the positive side, you can connect USB C hubs and also connect external monitors and other accessories.
There’s no fingerprint scanner and you can’t unlock it using facial recognition either. That’s certainly a downside.
On the front, we get a 2-megapixel webcam and the main camera has a resolution of 8 megapixels. While the recordings of the main camera are okay, the front-facing camera is missing some detail when recording HD videos. You can record with 1600 x 1200 pixels too, which looks better but is not the 16:9 aspect ratio that videos usually have these days.
Kickstand & Keyboard
A back cover for the tablet with an integrated kickstand and a keyboard are included at no extra charge. That’s fantastic because, with pretty much every competitor, you’ll have to pay at least 100 Dollars extra for a keyboard. So, the price of 279 Dollars is super competitive because it includes the keyboard.
With the back cover, the back of the tablet is protected but the frame is unprotected. It’s connected to the tablet using magnets and they’re very strong. The cover is made of plastic and a kind of fabric-like material. It’s not very premium-feeling, of course, but that’s okay. I like that you can open the kickstand quite wide and that one has a metal hinge.
The keyboard is connected using a magnetic connector, so you don’t have to charge it separately. It’s made of plastic too and does not feel as high end as the Type Cover from Microsoft, for instance. But as I said, these cost at least 100 dollars, so it’s okay.
Because of the 10-inch screen, the keyboard is a bit smaller than a standard one. Still, I was able to type with it very fast. Sure, it might be because I’m used to working with tablets. Maybe you’ll have to get used to it first. But the keys do offer real travel which is great.
It does not have any special features like background lighting and it’s always lying flat on a tablet because you can’t angle it up.
We do get a touchpad that sits below the keyboard. It’s small but works fine.
So, overall the keyboard is not perfect. But it works great and I think it’s a fantastic value.
Chrome OS On Tablets
The most important feature of the Lenovo Duet Chromebook is Chrome OS. A couple of years ago I reviewed the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 – but no other Chrome OS tablet has been released in Europe since then. I know Chrome OS is quite popular in the United States – but outside, I think most people are not that familiar with it.
Chrome OS used to be an operating system that relies heavily on the cloud – and it still does mostly. But by now, you can also install Android apps from the Google Play Store and you can use them locally just like with an Android tablet. Chrome OS is based on Linux – just as Android is – and it’s said to be very secure.
One reason why it’s so secure is that it’ll get updates for a long time. In fact, the Lenovo Duet Chromebook should be updated until June of 2028. Yes, 8 years. That means it’ll be much longer up-to-date than any Android tablet will be.
The heart of Chrome OS is the Chrome browser. It’s full desktop-class Chrome – so, it’s not the mobile version we know from Android. Instead, it looks and works just as Chrome for Windows or macOS does. And you can use the same extensions too.
Chrome runs much better on this tablet than it does on similar priced Windows devices. Demanding web apps like Gmail, Google Docs, and Netflix run great. YouTube does not perform perfectly inside the browser – sometimes you’ve got to wait for a second when switching to full screen, for example. But it performs much better than similar priced Windows tablets which often have to fight with YouTube.
This tablet is so interesting because of Chrome. At an affordable price, we’re getting a desktop-class browser with which you can do pretty much everything that you’re doing on a PC without having to make the compromises we have to make with the mobile versions. As I said, Google Docs performs very well. And you can leave YouTube running in a background tab and listen to the audio without it stopping, just like on a PC and without YouTube premium.
Chrome OS is very easy to navigate – both by touchscreen and by keyboard and mouse. In tablet mode, we get a kind of home screen like on Android tablets. Here you see all installed apps. If you’re inside an app, you can access a dock by swiping up. And with gestures, you can see all opened apps, open them side by side, and close them.
In desktop mode, you can open several apps in free-floating windows just like we’re used to from Windows. In both cases, you can access the quick settings and notifications by tapping the date of the status bar. That looks and works similar to Android.
The desktop mode is a bit more stable and seems more finished, better thought through. When using the Duet Chromebook as a tablet, I sometimes notice smaller issues. For instance, there’s no animation when scrolling through the gallery. Yes, nothing major, just some things that Google can improve in the future.
Google Play Store & Android Apps
Just like with an Android tablet, you can install Android apps on the Duet Chromebook from the Google Play Store. Not all, but most. I’ve installed YouTube, Adobe Lightroom, Netflix, OneDrive, a couple of games, as well as note-taking apps. They work just as they do on Android tablets.
By the way, you can also install different browsers like Microsoft Edge or Firefox. But, since Chrome is the major highlight of this tablet, it makes no sense to do so. But you could do that.
Linux App With Chrome OS
As I said, Chrome OS is based on Linux. And in fact, you can install normal Linux apps on this tablet. In the settings, you’ve got to activate this feature first. Once you’ve done that, you can use the terminal to install Linux apps and use them.
That means in addition to Android apps, you can also use traditional desktop apps on the Duet Chromebook. I’ve installed LibreOffice, for instance, and it runs fine.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook has a 10.1-inch IPS screen with an aspect ratio of 16:10. It has a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels, and as usual, I think that full HD resolution is high enough on 10 inches.
Overall, the display is a pretty good one. It’s quite bright with 400 nits and it’s readable outside. Viewing angles are very wide too. Sure, an iPad Pro has a brighter screen and the AMOLED panels from Samsung are more saturated and have higher contrast. But at this price, the screen is great.
You can watch Netflix in the Browser with HD resolution. But the Netflix Android app supports standard definition only.
Speaking of Netflix: On the top, we get two speakers that are separate from each other so that you can hear a real stereo separation. But the sound quality is okay only. Similarly priced competitors like the iPad 7 or Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite offer a better sound.
HP USI Stylus
You can use the Duet Chromebook with every USI stylus. However, at the moment the only one I was able to buy is the HP USI Stylus that costs around 80 dollars. Even though it’s not cheap at all, it does feel super cheap. On a positive note, it’s charged using a USB C cable. And just like with Samsung’s and Microsoft’s pens, it supports 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. That means it recognizes how hard you press down.
The pen is well supported by Chrome OS. When using it, you can rest your palm on the screen, for instance, and it gets ignored. Chrome OS supports some special features for the stylus. You can easily take screenshots and annotate them, for instance, but also cut out parts of the screen. You can use the stylus as a laser pointer and a magnifying glass too.
By tapping on the pen icon in the status bar, you can start a new note very quickly. The standard notes app is Google Keep. But, in the settings, you can exchange it with many apps from the Play Store. Among those are Bamboo Paper and Squid but Microsoft’s OneNote is not supported.
Using the HP USI Stylus you can write handwritten notes on your Duet Chromebook or draw something. That works fine but not as good as I’m used to from the Apple iPad 7 with the Apple Pencil, Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite with the S Pen, or Microsoft Surface Go 2 with the Surface Pen. With the competition, handwritten text looks clearer and the pens react faster.
But, especially when considering how inexpensive this tablet is, I think the pen is good enough. I wouldn’t get it just for the stylus, though. If the pen is the most important feature for you, you’re better off with the competition.
Hardware & Performance
The Lenovo Duet Chromebook is powered by a MediaTek Helio P60T Octa-core processor with 4GB of RAM. You can get versions with 64GB and 128GB of internal storage. When using web apps only, the 64GB is fine, of course. But if you want to install lots of games, store videos, and photos, it makes sense to get 128GB because usually, it costs just a bit more. And remember, the tablet has no microSD card slot.
In benchmarks, the tablet gets pretty good results. Especially when considering how inexpensive it is, because in Geekbench 4, for instance, its positioned between the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite and Galaxy Tab S5e. Those are mid-range tablets that cost about the same.
The real-life performance is good too. As I said, the Chrome browser performs much better than it does on similar Windows tablets. Intensive web surfing is possible here. But it always depends on what you’re expecting. Chrome does not perform as well as it does on a 1000 dollar laptop, that should be clear. But for this price range, the performance is excellent.
That’s the case regarding Android apps too. Note-taking apps, YouTube and Adobe Lightroom run smoothly and just as they do on Android tablets. With PowerDirector, I didn’t manage to render a video – maybe somethings needs to be better optimized. But if you want to edit videos with a tablet, you’re better off with an iPad anyways.
The Lenovo Duet Chromebook gets decent results in my gaming test. I wasn’t able to install Fortnite. But Call of Duty and PUBG Mobile can be played with graphics set to high and I was able to play them smoothly. But sure, better performance is possible. Both games look better even on the cheapest iPad. They do perform as they do on similar Android tablets like the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite though.
Exactly this is what I can say about other games like Asphalt 9 and other, simpler games too. I wouldn’t recommend it as a gaming tablet, in particular, you get a much better experience with an iPad 7 which is faster and has better speakers. But if you want to game a bit in between, it’s possible with this tablet.
When watching HD videos on YouTube at maximum brightness, the battery lasts 4.5 hours. If you’re watching an HD video locally at 50 percent brightness, it can last up to 10 hours.
Lenovo Duet Chromebook Review: Final Words
So, how good is the Lenovo Duet Chromebook? During my time with the tablet, it positively surprised me. I think the value is fantastic. At just 279 dollars we’re getting a desktop-class browser, a back cover with an integrated kickstand, a keyboard, and a stylus option. Other aspects like its display, performance, and battery life are not outstanding, but certainly fine.
I can recommend the Duet Chromebook if you want to have a desktop-class browser and want to get updates for a long time. And if you want to have a keyboard. In fact, it’s the cheapest tablet with a keyboard that I can comfortably recommend.
If you don’t want to work with your tablet, it might not be suited for you though. It’s not a great media tablet. If you want to watch movies and play games, I think an Android tablet or iPad is much better suited. And if the pen is very important for you, you should check out the competition too.
Let’s check out the alternatives.
If you’re willing to spend a bit more money, you get much better performance with the Apple iPad 7. You can get it with keyboard and stylus as well and Safari performs great with web apps too. A major highlight here is that you get access to lots of more apps that are optimized for tablets.
In case you mostly want to watch movies and videos, you get a prettier screen and much better speakers with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e. The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is an interesting alternative too if you need the pen. The S Pen is fantastic.
Another direct competitor is the Microsoft Surface Go 2. It’s an interesting choice if you need Windows apps and if you want a great pen at the same time. Including pen and keyboard, it’s much pricier though.
- Desktop-Class Chrome Browser
- Included Keyboard
- Good Screen
- Solid Performance
- Google Play Store
- Linux App Support
- Stylus far from perfect
- Not a great media tablet
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