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Andy Zahn / Lifewire
Rock bottom price point
High-quality build materials
Attractive, light, and portable design
Good at simple tasks
Solid battery life
Not very powerful
Detachable keyboard is unreliable
Outdated Bluetooth hardware
No audio port
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet has some real problems related to its detachable keyboard and its integration, but at its core, it's a solid budget option for basic productivity and media consumption. Its top-notch screen and low price point help soothe its most glaring flaws.
We purchased our expert reviewer the Lenovo Chromebook Duet to evaluate its features and capabilities. Read on to see our results.
Chromebooks and 2-in-1 laptop/tablet hybrid devices both aim to offer the best of two worlds. A 2-in-1 offers the intuitive touchscreen-based experience of a tablet with the productivity advantages of a physical keyboard. A Chromebook can look and feel like a premium quality product but carry a low budget price tag. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet aims to offer all this versatility and value in one convenient package.
The Lenovo Duet is certainly attractive, with a two-tone blue and black finish, a subtle camera bump on its front, and reasonably discrete bezels around its screen. The metal and plastic of this design all feel robust and high quality.
Of course, to be a 2-in-1 laptop, a keyboard is needed, and the Duet opts for a detachable design. The keyboard pops in and out of a magnetic socket easily, which isn’t such a great thing, as it comes apart a little too easily, resulting in partial connections that confuse the system software and cause glitches. It is also not rigid, making the device difficult to use while balanced on your lap. It’s best used in conjunction with a table or other flat surface.
There is no 3.5 mm audio port, only the USB-C data and charging port, though the Duet does come bundled with a USB-C to 3.5mm audio adapter dongle. Other than that, there’s just the power and volume buttons on the side of the right-hand side of the screen.
The 10.1-inch touchscreen on the Duet is remarkably high resolution with 1920x1200 pixels. This gives it a slightly taller than average aspect ratio that’s better for productivity but less ideal for watching movies and shows. It’s quite sharp, and very bright, with excellent colors. No corners were cut with the Duet’s display, and it really stands out in such an inexpensive device.
The laptop comes with a magnetic back panel with a great looking gray cloth cover. This bends in half to form a fairly strong stand. The magnets are quite strong, so you won’t have to worry about it falling off. However, the hinge mechanism on the cover seems like a part that might not stand up to the test of time and using it resulted in some minor cosmetic blemishes after a few weeks of use.
No corners were cut with the Duet’s display, and it really stands out in such an inexpensive device.
A big advantage of Chrome OS is how fast it is to set up because all you’re really doing is logging into a browser. Setting the Duet up for the first time takes only slightly longer than signing into your email.
The Lenovo Duet is not a machine designed for gaming or power-intensive productivity tasks. It runs on a MediaTek Helio P60T processor and 4GB of RAM, which is pretty underwhelming. However, it does perform better than the Lenovo Chromebook C330 that I reviewed last year, so at least that’s something.
The Duet achieved a PCMark Work 2.0 score of 6646, and a GFX bench Aztec Ruins OpenGL (High Tier) score of 287.6 frames. In real-world use, this translates to a fairly smooth and responsive experience when doing basic tasks, light writing, or browsing the web. However, it would sometimes slow down inexplicably, and it’s only good for less demanding mobile games.
The big problem I experienced with the operation of the Duet were errors related to the keyboard connection. On a fairly frequent basis, it would revert to touchscreen-only tablet mode with the keyboard still attached, and once the whole machine froze until I disconnected the keyboard.
In real-world use, this translates to a fairly smooth and responsive experience when doing basic tasks, light writing, or browsing the web.
The navigation for the Lenovo Duet are a mixed bag in terms of quality. The touchscreen is as responsive and competent as any other, and in tablet mode, I have nothing to complain about.
However, the keyboard is absolutely atrocious.
However, the keyboard is absolutely atrocious. It’s just too cramped, and while that’s to be expected on a laptop of this size, something about the design makes it feel worse than it should. Also, the keys themselves just don’t feel good, and I found myself making error after error while typing on the Duet. The trackpad is just mediocre, but the keyboard can most charitably be described as being better than not having a keyboard at all.
Great sound quality isn’t typically what you’d expect from a thin and light 2-in-1 laptop, but the Duet managed to surprise with its remarkably decent audio. I use 2Cello’s cover of “Thunderstruck” as a baseline test for speakers, and the Duet rendered with clear highs and mids, though the bass was a bit underwhelming. Billy Talent’s “Swallowed Up by the Ocean” showed the Duet to be equally competent at vocals as well as instrumentals. These better-than-average speakers are great for streaming shows and movies.
Though its Wi-Fi connection is strong enough, the Duet unfortunately only features Bluetooth 4.2. This last-gen tech gets the job done, however, and most users likely won’t even notice the lack of Bluetooth 5.0.
The Duet features an 8MP rear-facing camera and a front-facing 2MP camera, and neither is very good. They’re functional, but the front-facing camera isn’t as good as that found in most smartphones, and the rear-facing camera is your typical webcam that’s merely serviceable for video calls.
Lenovo claims the Duet gets 10 hours of battery life, and while that will vary based on use, I found it easily made it through a workday with juice to spare. This is one of the advantages of Chrome OS and low power components.
Chrome OS is certainly not as versatile as macOS or Windows, but it’s not nearly so resource-intensive, which allows for a cheap and functional machine at a much lower price point. If you just need a device for writing and other basic productivity tasks, then a Chromebook is ideal. However, you are very limited in what you can do, both by the operating system and by the low power hardware it runs on. Android apps can work, but compatibility can vary from app to app.
With an MSRP of $300, the Lenovo Duet is certainly inexpensive for a transforming 2-in-1 device with a design that is more premium than you might expect from a tablet/laptop at this price point. However, it does suffer from some major flaws with the keyboard that aren’t present in comparable devices at a similar cost.
The Lenovo Chromebook C330 is a good option if you want a better keyboard and a more traditional laptop experience with 2-in-1 functionality at a similar price point. The C330 is also a much more reliable machine than the Duet. However, if portability is a priority, the Duet is significantly smaller, and you can detach the keyboard entirely for more streamlined tablet use. Also, the Duet is slightly more powerful than the C330, but the poor keyboard of the Duet might be a dealbreaker.
Still need some more time before making a decision? See our guide to the best chromebooks.
A 2-in-1 that excels as a tablet and stumbles as a laptop.
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a device of highs and lows. It possesses a solid core as a competent and ultra-portable Chrome OS tablet, but there are some real problems with the detachable keyboard and its interface with the tablet. However, the flaws can be overlooked to some extent thanks to its low price point.
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