Review

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook Tablet 4GB/128GB for $260 at Amazon

In times of home offices, home schooling and distance learning, we have recently received a lot of questions from you about notebooks and tablets that cost as little as possible. During our research, we came across the Lenovo Duet Chromebook, a 2-in-1 tablet for ~$250 with a “Surface-look” and Google’s desktop operating system ChromeOS. How efficiently can you work with it and what are the advantages and disadvantages of ChromeOS compared to Windows? We will clarify that in this test!

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook on the Table

Technical data

ModelLenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook
Display10,1 Zoll IPS LCD, 1920 x 1200 Pixel
ProcessorMediaTek Helio P60T
Graphics cardARM G72 MP3 800 GHz
Working memory4 GB  LPDDR4X RAM
Mass storage64/128 GB eMMC memory
Runtimeup to 10 hours
CommunicationWiFi 2 x 2 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2.4 GHz/5 GHz, Bluetooth 4,2
Ports1x USB-C (Gen. 2)
ExtrasKeyboard cover with pressure point
Dimensions / Weight24.5 cm x 16.5 cm x 1.82 cm; 920 g (keyboard + tablet)
CameraFront: 2 MP with LED; rear 8 MP
Pricefrom ~$250

Packaging & scope of delivery

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook comes in a chic, printed cardboard box. Compared to the cheap Acer Chromebooks, I already have the impression of getting a higher-quality product. When you open the box, the first thing that catches your eye is the tablet itself. Underneath is the magnetic back cover and the keyboard cover. In a separate box on the right, you will also find a USB-C cable and a 10 watt charging adapter, as well as a USB-C to jack adapter. Of course, a user manual is also included.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook Scope of delivery

Personally, I would have liked to see a USB-C to HDMI adapter in the box, since you can also connect the small iDeaPad Duet to an external screen. In advance, the purchase of a multihub with HDMI, USB interfaces and SD card reader makes a lot of sense in my opinion! You can also optionally use a stylus pen with the Lenovo Duet Chromebook.

Design & workmanship

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook is only available in the color combination “ice blue – iron gray”. The upper part of the back is a bit less than one third in “ice blue”, whereas the lower rest is in “iron gray”. The blue area contains the built-in 8 MP camera as well as an embedded “Lenovo” badge, which gives the product a high-quality touch in my opinion.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook Loudspeakers and Microphones

With dimensions of 23.4 cm x 15.4 cm x 0.73 cm, the IdeaPad Duet is a quite compact 10.1-inch tablet and weighs less than half a kilogram with 450 g. Unlike the Surface models, the stand that can be used to set up the tablet is not integrated into the back of the tablet, but is inside the magnetic back cover. It has a gray textile texture and is visually very appealing, at least to me.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook Backcover with Stand

The keyboard cover, which is also held by magnets and protects the display when closed, completes the Lenovo Duet as a laptop alternative. It is gray, rubberized on the back and makes a very good first impression on me. First of all, the keys have a really good pressure point for my taste, despite their low key drop, and give a clear haptic feedback, I like that a lot!

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With front and back covers, the Chromebook still weighs less than a kilo at 920 g and has dimensions of 24.5 cm x 16.5 cm x 1.82 cm. Thus, it is immediately well-equipped to survive daily transport in a bag or backpack without permanent damage, such as scratches in the display or back – very good!

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook Buttons on Tablet

In terms of workmanship, I have nothing to criticize about the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook. It looks as well as feels good and I could not find any workmanship or material defects. The power/standby button as well as the volume rocker sit firmly in the case, nothing wobbles here!

Keyboard & touchpad

As already briefly mentioned, I’m positively surprised by the included keyboard cover. The keys give a good haptic feedback during typing, despite their low key drop. Most of the letter keys have a size of 1.5 x 1.5 cm, which is comparable to a normal keyboard.

Thus, I am already accurate with the first typing tests on the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet. Umlaut keys like Ä/Ü/Ö, as well as some character and function keys, however, turn out narrower, nothing you cannot get used to.

The touchpad is quite tiny compared to normal laptops, measuring 9 x 5 cm. Like the keys, however, it gives good haptic as well as acoustic feedback. It supports multi-touch gestures with up to 3 fingers and with the pre-set mouse sensitivity, you can comfortably “drive” over the entire 10.1-inch display without having to reposition your finger frequently.

To make another Surface comparison, a keyboard cover (but with backlight) costs $100 (!!!) extra, whereas it is included here. In return, it really does a very good job, and it is nice that Lenovo is not so stingy with this model.

Hardware

Not the strongest hardware has been chosen, but it is sufficient for the tablet’s purposes in the test and weaker hardware is not unusual for Chromebooks. On the one hand, we have installed a MediaTek Helio P60T processor from 2018. It has 4 GB of working memory and 64 GB or 128 GB of storage depending on the configuration.

Complex gaming apps are probably too much for the tablet, but the hardware is sufficient for video streaming, browsing and office work. It should be clear to everyone that the Lenovo Duet Chromebook is primarily designed for exactly that – you should not make false claims here.

Besides the dedicated contacts for the keyboard, there is only one port on the IdeaPad Duet. We find a single USB 2.0 Type-C port on the side. Unfortunately, there is no headphone jack or second USB-C port. If you have to charge the tablet, you cannot connect anything else. Unless you get a USB-C multihub, as mentioned at the beginning. This can increase the connectivity many times over, so I can only highly recommend using or buying one.

Display

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook is equipped with a 10.1-inch Full HD IPS display with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. With a black bezel that is one centimeter thick all around, the look of the display is not the most modern, but it is okay in any case.

The manufacturer specifies the screen’s brightness with 400 nits, which is sufficient in my opinion in the test. At most, you might have problems with legibility on a nice summer day in the park, depending on the incidence of light.

Above the display is the 10-point multi-touch touchscreen, which I like in practice. It responds reliably and precisely to all touch gestures. However, there is also the option to use a pen as an additional input method. Unfortunately, this is not included, but a whole range of pens are supported since the tablet is compatible with USI pens. Thus, you can also make handwritten notes and sort them digitally.

Benchmark & Gaming

In the 3D Mark benchmark “Sling Shot Extreme”, the tablet achieves a scroe of 1,101 points in our test. The Geekbench 5 benchmark test delivers a score of 263 in the single-core Scroe and 940 in the multi-core score.

The benchmark results are also reflected in the gaming performance. While small “mini-game apps” naturally work flawlessly, more complex games like COD Mobile, Asphalt 9 or PUBG Mobile are clearly slowed down graphically.

Graphically, the games are limited and look much less good than they could at medium settings. You also have to deal with small lags from time to time. Here, phones like the Mi 10 Lite with a Snapdragon 765G processor cut a much better figure. Do not misunderstand, but overall I do not have the feeling that the tablet is slow or stutters, but in theory it could be better.

Speakers & microphones

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook is equipped with stereo speakers on the top of the tablet. Sound-wise, I like them well for compact tablet speakers. I would not necessarily use them for listening to music, but they are, in my opinion, completely sufficient for watching an episode of the favorite series or a YouTube video.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook Loudspeakers and Microphones

The positioning also ensures a reasonably good stereo sound, which is not always the case for a small tablet like this. Between the speakers, positioned a bit further in the center, are two microphones. In the test with Zoom and Skype, my conversation partners could understand me well and despite the proximity to the speakers, my conversation partners do not hear each other twice – very good!

Cameras

In terms of cameras, Lenovo relies on an 8 MP sensor on the back. This “main camera” is, of course, at best usable for snapshots or to show something in a video chat. Nobody really takes serious pictures with a tablet, and Lenovo also knows that and saves costs accordingly.

The actually more important front-facing camera when it comes to video calling offers a 2 MP sensor, which Thorben says makes me look a bit “dead”, thanks again for the compliment, Thorben.

What he wanted to say is that the camera’s color profile is not particularly warm and also invites pixel counting. However, I think it is sufficient for what it is intended for, namely that the other party can also see you when you are on the phone.

ChromeOS

Many people will not have had much contact with Chrome OS, as I did before this review. The original Chrome OS is not the same as it is today. Back then, only web-based programs were used, but today many native programs are also available, even offline. In addition, Android apps or the Google PlayStore can be used, and a virtual machine for Linux programs has been added. Thus, you have a huge selection of software for the Chromebook.

Thus, Chrome OS has become very flexible over time and perhaps even the better operating system for such a tablet. This is partly because it was originally designed for mouse and keyboard input and is therefore better designed for this than Android is. Nevertheless, the idea of operating the screen with a touch control has not been left out.

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Google shows that it is very serious about ChromeOS and that we are probably only at the beginning of ChromeBooks with a powerful update promise. The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook is supposed to receive updates directly from Google for 8 years, i.e. until 2028. That is much longer than usual for “normal” Android tablets and could even outperform the iPad, which is certainly Google’s plan.

Also, iOS for the iPad is evolving from an only slightly customized mobile OS to a desktop-like macOS alternative, and thus a Windows laptop alternative as well. Google does not want to leave this growing market for inexpensive laptops and tablets with a slim operating system to Apple’s competition, and Windows is now trying Windows 10 in S mode after the failed Windows Mobile and Windows RT. One invests in the future with such a big update promise and wants to assert the still growing market with all means – good for us consumers.

Advantages and disadvantages of ChromeOS

  • Updates up to 8 years
  • short boot time
  • Resource-saving
  • Battery life
  • Less susceptible to malware
  • Office alternative
  • Program variety limited to PlayStore & Linux applications
  • Lack of programs in the creative and gaming area
  • Dependence on Google
  • Full potential can only be exploited online

Personal experience with ChromeOS

The ChromeOS user interface on the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook reminds me directly of several systems in desktop mode. By default, you find a kind of taskbar at the bottom of the screen, where you can fix some apps in the middle. Similar to MacOS, but also known from every cell phone. The bar can also be fixed to the left or right edge of the screen.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook Desktop

If we stick to the standard layout, we find the time on the right as well as icons that provide information about the current WLAN connection. My trained Windows eye recognizes parallels here. If you press on the time, you will get to a quick setting, similar to the classic swipe-down at the top of the screen on an Android phone. Here you can, for example, adjust the brightness and volume, configure the WLAN and Bluetooth connection, and turn them on and off.

Swiping up from the bottom edge of the screen brings you to the Android-like Appdraw with an overview of all installed programs and apps. At least in the case of the Lenovo Duet Chromebook, the tablet automatically switches to tablet mode when the keyboard is removed. Appdraw is practically always enabled and you can swipe through your apps via the touchscreen, while the fixed apps remain. You will no longer find an empty desktop like when the keyboard is plugged in.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook Desktop

Due to the undeniable parallels to other operating systems, I personally found my way around ChromeOS quickly and intuitively. Due to the significantly better desktop mode, I consider it a sensible alternative to Android tablets, and on the other hand, I could not find any real disadvantages compared to Android.

Do Netflix & Co. work in Full HD?

In my opinion, it is important for a tablet whether streaming services, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, work in high quality. The way via the Netflix Android app is sobering and you only get a 480p stream. However, the regular Chrome browser can be used to achieve a 1080p stream. That in itself is a bit surprising, as you can’t do that on a Windows machine. So, depending on the streaming service, you can use the Android app or have to resort to the browser version.

Microsoft Office with the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook

If you don’t want to struggle with the alternatives from Google & Co., you can certainly also use the Microsoft Office apps from the PlayStore. The download itself is free of charge, but you need a valid Microsoft 365 subscription to use the programs.

The apps look very similar to the desktop versions, as far as I can tell, and the files are of course compatible with the desktop versions and vice versa. However, the feature set is limited, which I personally probably wouldn’t have even noticed, but if you’re deeper into the matter, you’ll probably notice it.

However, I would claim that the average user will find all the necessary options here to create documents, spreadsheets or presentations, respectively to edit them further.

Battery & battery life

The battery, about whose capacity Lenovo is unfortunately silent, provides a bombastic runtime in combination with the frugal hardware & software. However, this naturally depends on the type of use. In the test, I was able to achieve a runtime of almost 11 hours while browsing and office work without streaming at medium display brightness, which is extremely good for such a compact device.

During video streaming on YouTube and Netflix, the battery went down a bit faster with around 9 hours of runtime, but still delivers a solid runtime. Unfortunately, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook only comes with a 10 watt charger and the full charge takes just under three hours in testing. That is unfortunately a bit too long for my taste, too bad!

Conclusion

In terms of build quality and material quality, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook absolutely lives up to its price of around $250 in my opinion. This is not only true for the tablet itself, but also for the back cover with stand and of course the keyboard cover. The latter in particular allows the potential of the Lenovo Duet to be fully exploited on the go.

When it comes to the application diversity of the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook, it is not exactly an all-rounder. The tablet with ChromeOS clearly has strengths, but also weaknesses.

In my opinion, it is perfect for those who are looking for a light (!), inexpensive device for on the go. You can use it to work productively from everywhere, write texts, emails, do web research, a bit of Word, PowerPoint & Excel, as well as notes and of course a bit of entertainment via Netflix, YouTube & Co. The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook is ideal for this and also offers an excellent price/performance due to the very strong battery life in these areas. Due to the possibility of connecting a second screen, as well as a mouse and keyboard, I could imagine simply continuing to work with it at home.

It has weaknesses in the multimedia and creative areas and is not the best choice for this in my opinion. Due to the operating system, the program variety is quite limited. As mentioned, many programs are also available as apps in the Google Play Store, but their functionality is usually limited compared to the desktop version. If you want to edit photos/videos or play a computer game, for example, you are much better off with a Windows laptop/tablet.

Depending on the level you are at, the Office apps might also be too limited in their functionality. But if you are such “cracks”, that should be quite clear to you beforehand anyway. Personally, I think that the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook is especially suitable for students and young professionals. It could also be an alternative to the Android tablet as a tablet for the couch due to the update promise until 2028.

Long Story Short

If you know in advance what the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook is good for and what it is not good for and adjust your expectations accordingly, then it is a top device with a great price-performance ratio.

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Fabian

I'm especially interested in headphones, but I can also get excited about everything related to computers & laptops.

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