Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook review

The Lenovo Chromebook Duo? Isn’t that the 10.1-inch tablet with keyboard and kickstand that we rented in May 2020 and have been touting as super value ever since? Well, yeah, and that cute, detachable Chromebook is still a steal, but the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook (starting at $ 429.99; $ 499 as tested) is quite another thing: a 2-in-1 plus tablet. large with an ultra-colorful, ultra-high contrast 13.3-inch OLED touchscreen. You can find faster and cheaper conventional Chromebooks, but the new Duet outperforms the recently revised HP x2 Chromebook if you want a tablet that doubles as a laptop. It wins an Editors’ Choice award as a premium detachable Chromebook.


A blue portait, a gray portait

Most Windows 2-in-1 laptops are convertibles with keyboards that flip and fold for use in tablet mode, but among Chromebooks there seems to be a trend for detachable ones that can get rid of their keyboards. Along with the IdeaPad Duet 5 and the HP 11-inch x2 Chromebook – which is priced $ 100 higher but has been greatly reduced – we also saw the removable Asus 10.5-inch CM3 Chromebook.

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Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Right Angle Chromebook

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The Duet 5 has a nominally faster version of the eight-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c processor seen in the HP x2 Chromebook. The base $ 429.99 Duet 5 model on Lenovo.com includes a storm gray keyboard cover and rear kickstand panel, 4GB of memory, and 64GB of eMMC flash storage. Our $ 499 test unit is a Best Buy version in Abyss Blue with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

In either configuration, the IdeaPad Duet 5 is a two-tone aluminum tablet with thin edges around a 1920 x 1080 pixel screen, measuring 0.28 x 12 x 7.4 inches ( HWD) and weighing 1.54 pounds. A 5-megapixel front-facing camera centered in the top frame (when the slate is kept in horizontal or landscape mode) serves as a webcam, while an 8-megapixel camera in a rear corner captures snapshots and videos.

Back of the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook tablet

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The Duet 5 comes with two fabric accessories that magnetically lock onto the rear and bottom edge, respectively: a back cover with a flip-up kickstand to support the screen in laptop mode, and a keyboard cover with touchpad. The non-backlit keyboard sits flat on your desk instead of having a folding hinge to give it a slight tilt like many detachable keyboards do. The three pieces together weigh 2.24 pounds.

Rear kickstand for Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook

(Photo: Molly Flores)

You’ll look in vain for a headphone jack, so you’ll need a Bluetooth or USB headset – the only ports are a pair of USB 3.2 Type-C ports, one on the left and right edges (assuming the tablet is in mode countryside). There is a power button on the left and volume up and down buttons on the top edge.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Left Chromebook USB-C

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The power outlet has a USB-C connector and a cable that is too short. When I tried to use the longer USB-C charger for my phone, a pop-up from Chrome OS said I had connected a low-power charger and the system was not charging when it was on . Lenovo says the real charger can restore battery power to 80% in an hour.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Straight USB-C Chromebook

(Photo: Molly Flores)


“OLED” stands for “Awesome”

Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) displays have so far mainly appeared in elite content creation laptops, so it’s a rare treat to see one in a Chrome OS tablet, or in all laptop-like device in its price range. The Duet 5 is not only spacious by tablet standards at 13.3 inches, but exceptionally bright (rated at 400 nits) and colorful. (Lenovo says it covers 100% of the DCI-P3 lineup, while emitting 70% less blue light than its competitors.)

Since, by the nature of OLED technology, black pixels are completely off, with no backlight behind them, contrast is very high (the company rates it at 100,000: 1), and white backgrounds are shiny. Colors are rich and vivid, while black text is crisp without pixelation. The screen’s 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution makes text and icons appear small. this native resolution is usable in a way that is typically not on high resolution displays.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Vertical Chromebook

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The traditional 16: 9 screen aspect ratio, while ideal for watching videos, is a little less convenient for tablet use than a 3: 2 panel, but the Duet 5 performs well when is held vertically or in portrait mode. The tactile glass shows some reflections at extreme angles, but it’s a pleasure to see even then.

The front-mounted webcam captures fairly well-lit and colorful images at resolutions up to 2,592 by 1,944 with just a touch of noise or static. The rear camera is sharp (3264 by 2448 pixels) and responsive, taking high-quality snapshots. Four 1-watt speakers produce a clear, albeit slightly metallic sound: the drum beats sound harsh and there’s no real bass, but you can make out the overlapping tracks.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook Rear Camera

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Magnetic pogo pins on the bottom edge secure the keyboard cover to the tablet. The keyboard is full-sized (Apostrophe keys cover the regular 8 inches) and follows the standard Chromebook layout, with browser and system control keys at the top and a search / menu key in place of the lock uppercase. Like other tablets with keyboards and crutches, the Duet 5 is happier on a desk than on your lap – it barely sits in my lap with the kickstand on my lap, despite the screen being nearly vertical while I would have liked it to be tilted further back.

Bottom edge of the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The keyboard has a flat, “typing” typing feel, not as comfortable as a real laptop keyboard, but good enough by tablet keyboard cover standards. A buttonless touchpad under the space bar glides smoothly. It has a slightly steep and shallow click; a two-finger tap serves for right-clicking in the familiar Chromebook tradition.

Keyboard for Chromebook Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5

(Photo: Molly Flores)


Duet 5 review: a Chromebook variety pack

There were two obvious candidates for the Chromebook IdeaPad Duet 5 in our benchmark tests: its other tablet and keyboard combos, the Asus CM3 removable Chromebook, and the HP x2 Chromebook. For the other two slots, I chose 13.3-inch laptops: the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 has a low-end Intel Celeron processor but a high-end OLED display, while the Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Flex 5 convertible has a Core i3 processor and a solid -State drive instead of lower eMMC flash storage. You can see their basic specs in the table below.

We test Chromebooks with three overall performance suites: a Chrome OS, an Android, and an Online. The first, Principled Technologies’ CrXPRT 2, measures how quickly a system performs daily tasks across six workloads such as applying photo effects, graphing a stock portfolio, analyzing DNA sequences and the generation of 3D shapes using WebGL. The second, UL’s PCMark for Android Work 3.0, performs various productivity operations in a smartphone-style window. Finally, Basemark Web 3.0 runs in a browser tab to combine low-level JavaScript calculations with CSS and WebGL content. All three give numerical scores; higher numbers are better.

Our testing over the years has led us to expect Chromebooks with ARM processors to underperform all except the slower x86 chips from Intel and AMD. The Duet 5 was no exception, with its Snapdragon processor outperforming Asus’ MediaTek ARM chip and hooked up to Samsung’s Celeron processor, but simply blown away by the Chromebook Flex 5’s Core i3. It’s perfectly fine to open. half a dozen browser tabs or for playing a single 1080p video or Android game, but not powerful enough for serious multitasking.

Two other Android benchmarks focus on the CPU and GPU respectively. Primate Labs Geekbench uses all available cores and threads to simulate real-world applications ranging from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine learning, while GFXBench 5.0 tests the constraints of both low-level routines like high-level, game-like image texturing and rendering. which exercises graphics and computes shaders. Geekbench provides a digital score while GFXBench counts frames per second (fps).

Finally, to test the battery of a Chromebook, we loop a 720p video file with the screen brightness set to 50% and the Wi-Fi disabled until the system is shut down. Sometimes we have to play the video from an external SSD plugged into a USB port, but the Duet 5 had enough internal storage to hold the file. it screams 100% for hours.

The Galaxy Chromebook 2 performed miserably in Geekbench, but otherwise both performance benchmarks told the same story with the IdeaPad Duet 5 being left in the dust again by the Lenovo Core i3. However, despite its bright OLED display, the Duet 5 dominated our battery, only the Asus coming close. Our video playback is not the most severe battery drain scenario, and muting the speakers surely helped, but 21 hours is still remarkable battery life and should allow you to leave the AC adapter at home. in complete confidence.


Creme of the Crop Chromium

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook is great value in our Best Buy configuration at $ 499. Sure, you’ll get faster performance from the Microsoft Core i3’s Surface Go 3 (on Windows) or Apple’s iPad Air (with iPadOS), but it’s smaller tablets that’ll set you back $ 730 or 898. $, respectively, with their optional keyboards. . And they can’t compete with the Duet 5’s dazzling OLED display.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook Front View

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Neither does the HP Chromebook x2, although this detachable comes with the stylus for which Lenovo charges an additional $ 32.99. Chrome OS dictates lighter or more casual use than the range of apps available for iPadOS or Windows, but the Duet 5 will satisfy many consumers and students. It deserves a spot among the Chromebook Editors’ Choice winners.

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