Great Battery Life and More
Laptop-tablet hybrid electronics are growing increasingly common these days and Chromebooks are one of the most popular. Chromebooks are essentially Chrome OS laptops except they’re not as expensive or heavy-duty as Apple or Windows laptops. Considering their performance, they’re ideal for young school-going children or adults who require a device for light everyday usage. They are highly in-demand considering the Work from Home and Online Schooling situation we find ourselves in today. But it isn’t easy to find a good Chromebook that not only meets but exceeds expectations. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is one-of a-kind; it has the performance and battery life of a laptop and the form factor and portability of a tablet.
A Treat to Look At
The Chromebook Duet is a treat to look at. It has an immensely bright 1900×1200 resolution offering the crispness and richness that Chromebooks priced at just $299 rarely offer. Most Chromebooks in this price range have a 720p display. The HD WUXGA resolution and the 400-nit brightness display of the Duet are rare features to come across. The 10.1 inch screen offers intensely vibrant colors with clarity and radiance. This makes the display on this laptop-tablet hybrid so special. Usually, brighter displays lose the sharpness and acuteness that comes with a more muted display.
Aesthetics-wise, the Chromebook Duet is minimal. It’s fairly plain, but not boring. It sports a dual-tone blue/gray design on the back and thin bezels on its front. Its keyboard cover is carefully knit and exudes sophistication. Made to offer a great form factor and portability, the Chromebook Duet is very lightweight and, thus, immensely easy to be carried around. The most awesome feature about this gadget is its magnetic keyboard case that’s included with each purchase. Most other laptop-tablet hybrids demand extra for their keyboards, making the Duet more favorable in this regard.
Depending on the user, the minimal controls on the Chromebook Duet serve as either a big advantage or major drawback. All that this Chromebook hosts is a USB-C port, a volume rocker and a power button. The modest amount of buttons to press and switches to toggle definitely make navigation on the Duet simple. However, for some, it may be a problem because this simplification comes at a cost. Some important ports such as a memory card slot and a 3.5mm port are absent. In addition, the Chromebooks took a page out of Apple’s book and combined the charging slot and the headphones port, which could lead to some problems when someone needs to choose between recharging and their tunes. However, with the ridiculously amazing battery life that the Chromebook Duet has, this dilemma shouldn’t come up often. Similarly, since it comes with a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter, the absence of the 3.5mm port will not be bothersome.
One thing I absolutely loved was that the speakers were on the top of the screen as opposed to being on the keyboard. This created a cool stereo effect when playing music. The sound didn’t come out muffled or muddy. It was rich, loud and clear. A Chromebook being able to deliver sound as crisp as that is impressive.
Additionally, The USB-C port is at the bottom; this ensures that the cord doesn’t get tangled. Devices which have ports on the top waste quite a lot of wire space coming all the way down. You can tell that the Chromebook Duet was carefully designed, and I appreciated that.
Hard to Navigate
I feel a little ungrateful critiquing the Chromebook Duet’s navigation and accessories since it provides so much in such a small price tag. However, it is important to highlight these issues so you can make an informed purchase. The Duet attaches to the keyboard with 5-point pogo pins. It also magnetically attaches to a fabric kickstand panel. The panel is beautiful and better than any of the metal or plastic panels I’ve seen on most other laptop-tablet hybrids. It acts as both an accessory to enhance aesthetic, a hard back cover for protection and a kick stand for providing adjustability.
Here’s the thing, though. The kickstand panel is very finicky to actually use. Despite what I said above, it’s hard to open and usually requires two hands. This means you have to pause what you’re doing and spend at least five seconds opening the panel which has a 60% chance of falling out. And when it does fall out, which it does pretty often, you can probably imagine how bothersome it is to put it back on. On the other hand, it is also significantly better than, for instance, Microsoft Surface’s kick stand in terms of how much give it provides as the Duet offers a dozen different angles to work with.
Not the Most Convenient
The Chromebook Duet’s kickstand panel isn’t its only problematic feature. On the keyboard, the punctuation buttons are half the size of their already small letter keys. Since I have relatively smaller hands, this wasn’t a groundbreaking flaw for me, but those who have bigger hands or less manual dexterity may have more problems using the Duet efficiently. This is still an issue that most people can get used to over time, so it’s not a deal breaker by any means. What’s more disappointing is the trackpad. It is not very responsive and lags often. After facing multiple instances where I had to tap twice to get the job done, the Chromebook Duet left me wishing for a more sensitive trackpad. I found that I had to rely on the touchscreen more often than I thought. I was happy upon learning that it uses Android-inspired gestures so I could just swipe on the screen and didn’t have to use the trackpad for basic actions.
For the cost, The Duet’s performance is pretty good. So for virtual learning or everyday multitasking, the performance was above average. However, you can’t expect, as you shouldn’t expect from any laptop-tablet hybrid, hardcore corporate use. It uses a 4GB RAM, a MediaTek Helio P60T processor and a 64/128GB ROM. None of these are exceptional. The 4GB RAM made sure I can’t keep more than 10 tabs open. When I tried doing so, it began to severely lag and switching between tabs started taking longer than usual. Just remember to keep closing tabs and you’ll be fine.
The Most Insane Battery You’ll Find on a Laptop-Tablet Hybrid
I was going to talk about the Chromebook Duet’s battery alongside its performance but decided that it deserves separate attention. The Duet’s battery life is easily the most impressive battery life I’ve ever witnessed. While it advertised only 10 hours, it ran a total of 20 hours on and off usage. Doubling the advertised battery life was not just surprising, it was unbelievable. Because of the energy-saving processor, the Duet could run for hours on end. If you ask me, I’d choose a stellar battery life over the fastest processor known to man any day. Especially considering that performance-wise it wasn’t half bad. I don’t mind compromising on speed and having a little more lag if it means I can remain untethered from the charging cord for longer.
Lots of Appreciated Features
The Duet’s other features surpass the previous models. For example, the camera is unusually good. The 8MP rear and 2MP front camera gave me quite bright and sharp shots. I know that no one buys a Chromebook for its camera but it was a nice surprise. As briefly mentioned above, I found its Dolby Audio speakers great and had a rather good time blasting music on my Duet.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet Final Word
All in all, I found the Chromebook Duet pretty great for casual users, specifically those telecommuting to work or school. It’s a reliable device for virtual meetings, online classes and even light research. Overall, it’s nothing less than a treat for people who want a convenient device, good aesthetic and an insane battery life at just $299.
Is it Hardcore?
The Chromebook Duet has the utility of a laptop and the portability of a tablet. It provides good performance, a highly impressive battery life and great portability in a fairly modest price tag.