The overwhelming majority of laptops that cross my desk are uninteresting items of plastic and metallic, however now and again I get to check a machine that feels genuinely enjoyable, modern, and thrilling. Lenovo’s Duet Chromebook is precisely that. The very fact it is comparatively low-cost besides solely provides to the attraction.
The Duet is not proper for everybody. It is a Chromebook in any case, which implies there are some software program limitations. It is also not terribly highly effective. However for individuals who can stay inside the confines of the Chrome browser, and who need one thing ultra-portable with nice battery life and pill performance, this Lenovo laptop computer delivers.
The Duet is barely smaller than the entry-level iPad, although the expertise of utilizing it’s a lot nearer to the Microsoft Floor Go. It has an identical 10-inch display with a removable keyboard and again cowl.
As a pill, it is snug to carry. It is the right measurement for studying on the sofa or in mattress. However that is one space the place Google’s Chrome OS is not splendid, as there isn’t any straightforward strategy to flip off computerized display rotation, one thing you are able to do in working methods like Android or iPadOS. That is no fault of the Duet, however one thing to concentrate on—Chrome OS continues to be tough across the edges on a pill.
The excellent news is that Google has been placing some work into making Chrome OS extra tablet-friendly. Early this 12 months, an replace added support for a “pill mode,” which presents a number of navigational gestures much like these in Android telephones.
Swipe up from the underside of the display and you will see the dock along with your favourite apps. Use the identical gesture, however swipe up additional and sooner and you will get to the house display. Use the identical gesture but once more, however pause on the finish of the swipe and you will see the current apps display. Whenever you’re shopping in Chrome you’ll be able to swipe in from the left aspect of the display to return to the earlier web page (although this didn’t all the time work for me).
The Duet robotically enters the brand new pill mode while you detach the keyboard, and it makes a good way to browse the net. The 1920 x 1200 display has a 16:10 facet ratio, which will get a large quantity of textual content on the display without delay. And the 400-nit brightness is nice sufficient to learn in shiny daylight, although the shiny display does have little bit of glare. Nonetheless, I used to be in a position to work exterior and use the Duet with out straining my eyes.
It is value noting that the expertise of utilizing Android apps on Chrome OS nonetheless is not nice, whether or not in pill mode or not. Slack, particularly, was horrible. It always didn’t refresh, inflicting the Duet to lock up repeatedly, and refused to ship messages. The Android Zoom app wasn’t nice both, although Zoom labored simply high quality within the browser. It is why I principally caught to utilizing Chrome.
As a lot as I loved shopping the net in pill mode, I’m a author, and it wasn’t till I connected the keyboard that I actually began to love the Duet. It stays an extremely slim and light-weight bundle, and that makes it straightforward to toss in a bag every time I am heading wherever—even the yard.
The keyboard snaps solidly in place due to a magnet and pin system, although the “hinge,” a skinny piece of fabric that attaches the keyboard to the connector, feels a little bit skinny. Luckily, the again cowl (which can be a separate piece that attaches magnetically) has a pleasant folding kickstand that retains the entire bundle regular on any flat, desk-like floor. The floppy hinge is actually solely a difficulty while you put the Duet in your lap.
The keyboard is nice contemplating the Duet’s measurement. To maintain it near full-size keys, Lenovo trimmed down issues usually discovered on the precise aspect, just like the quantity pad. That is principally high quality, although I did have some bother persistently nailing the apostrophe key. It would take a while to regulate in the event you’re coming from a conventional full-size keyboard. Fortunately, the built-in trackpad works effectively—it by no means activated whereas I typed.
What’s a little bit of a headscratcher is the port scenario on this convertible. There’s just one USB-C port—you utilize this for charging or if you wish to join the Chromebook to an exterior show—however in any other case, you will should depend on USB-C hubs to attach the rest. There’s additionally no headphone jack, one thing you will discover on the Floor Go and iPad. It is weird, and it means you will should depend on an adapter or Bluetooth earbuds.
Sufficient Energy for Most
It may be powerful to do some work with the Duet’s tiny 10-inch display, however fortunately the laptop computer would not have an excessive amount of bother operating many of the apps I take advantage of, and it lasts a little bit greater than a full workday on a single cost. That is all due to the environment friendly processor inside, the MediaTek Helio P60T (and four gigabytes of RAM).
It is a lot quick sufficient for getting work finished within the browser, sending emails, and different communications—even mild picture modifying (in Gimp, operating by way of the Linux assist) and doc modifying. I solely began to see some slowdowns after having 15 to 20 Chrome tabs open with half a dozen Android apps operating concurrently alongside some Linux for Chrome OS apps.
In the event you plan on shopping for this Chromebook, and it’s best to in the event you’re in search of one thing south of $500, it is value spending a bit extra for the 128-GB model as a substitute of the bottom 64-GB, because the Duet doesn’t have a Micro SD card slot, which means you’ll be able to’t add any additional storage.
Past that although, there’s one thing intangibly nice in regards to the Duet—it is enjoyable in a manner that makes me need to pull it out and use it. And for $300, that is exceptional.