While Google has deserted the market for touchpads with Android, the world could have taken pleasure in buying Samsung and Huawei tablets for Android, iPad or Microsoft Surface.
Some manufacturers still try a breakthrough by betting on Chrome OS. This is the case of Lenovo with its IdeaPad Duet, a 2-in-1 Chromebook.
Throughout the test of this Chrome OS tablet, I kept repeating myself: this product costs less than 300 dollars with the keyboard-touchpad provided. It’s cheaper than an iPad Pro-Magic Keyboard.
The IdeaPad Duet is a hybrid Chromebook that arouses a lot of curiosity among enthusiasts of new technologies. Sold at a relatively low price, it is both a Chromebook and an Android tablet.
Features of The Lenovo Ideapad Duet
Ergonomics And Design：The Netbook Tablet
When I had the Ideapad Duet for the first time in my hand, with its keyboard and touchpad, it brought back to me an old memory: that of my Asus EeePC. For those who are too young, know that there was a time when affordable machines with a small 10.2-inch screen in Windows XP dominated the PC market.
The Duet Chromebook takes up the original idea of the netbook: very affordable, it is a portable machine with its small 10.2-inch screen and practical thanks to its touchpad keyboard. It’s devilishly more efficient than a tablet for being productive, but less comfortable over time than a traditional laptop.
One of the things to remember with this Chromebook is that it is small. At 10.1 inches diagonally across, it’s a standard size for a tablet, but if you try to use it like you use a laptop (with dozens of Chrome tabs), things get narrow.
This test was written from the Duet and I can confirm that it is not comfortable beyond a few hours of use. It’s great on the go for occasional use, but you won’t make it your main machine because of its small size.
The Duet is delivered with amazing rear protection that incorporates a kickstand. With its fabric covering, this protection has the advantage of being able to offer several angles of inclination. It’s clever.
In addition, you can connect (via a few small magnets) a touchpad keyboard that can also be folded down to offer total protection to the tablet. As explained in the introduction, it’s crazy to find these two accessories sold directly with the tablet for a price lower than the “magic” keyboard of Apple’s iPad Pro.
But are these good accessories? Who says small screen, says removable keyboard also very small. Most of the keys are small, some are very small like the “m” key, like the keyboard of a Surface Go 2 or the keyboard of an iPad, with a travel of about 1.3 mm. It’s a cramped configuration, but it’s a workable keyboard.
Again, consider this Chromebook as a backup machine. It is a tablet capable of temporarily transforming into a PC. Like the iPad Pro or Surface Go 2, it’s not easy to use the Duet on your lap.
You won’t be shocked to learn that the touchpad is also small. It’s still a good touchpad that manages several points, you can scroll on web pages using two fingers for example. Note that you can connect external keyboards and mice via a USB-C dongle or via Bluetooth.
Finally, the Duet supports USI (Universal Stylus Initiative) pens.
Regarding the tablet, it is elegant with this double color on the back, with a good design and very correct finishes. It is made of an aluminum alloy, solid and pleasant to hold. Despite everything, it remains fine and light.
We can regret the relatively thick border around the screen, but that makes it easier to take in hand without a finger overhanging the touch screen.
Chrome OS: Mi-Chrome，Mi-Android
What are the ChromeOS and PWA?
Chrome OS is different from Android: it’s an OS built around the Chrome browser. The same web browser you find on Windows 10, macOS, GNU/Linux … this is its full version. So you will have the same experience as you have on a PC.
For almost three years, Google has added support for Android apps and the Play Store. So Chrome OS found itself enriched overnight with hundreds of thousands of additional apps.
As much to reassure you right away, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet does indeed embark (and natively) the Google Play Store. There is also support for GNU/Linux applications, which will need to be activated manually. Not to mention, Chrome extensions too.
ChromeOS on Ideapad Duet
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet being a tablet, remember that Chrome OS supports two display modes: PC mode where applications (Android and PWA) are wrapped in windows that you can move and resize, and a tablet mode where everything displays in full screen. As soon as you plug in the keyboard, the OS switches from one mode to another.
One of the big differences between Chrome OS and the old OS (Windows 10, macOS …) … is that its main weakness is its strength. Everything is simplified to the extreme, this is the case with the Files application which is the official explorer. This app is so basic that it reminds me of the iPad Files app. The same is true for device settings with very few options available. It can be frustrating in some ways, it’s true.
Beyond these basic problems, Chrome OS is surprisingly good. As long as you don’t rely on specific apps for your work, you’re ready to use a Chromebook. This Chromebook Duet is interesting in more ways than one because it is a format between the touchpad and the PC.
The Ideapad Duet is also a touchpad with Android apps for watching, playing, listening, exchanging, communicating… it almost makes everything spin.
Almost, because some applications do not work, as the Netflix application. The limitation may be from SoC MediaTek, it can actually be downloaded from the Play Store, but launching it will go no further than a black screen.
Incomprehensible, because of Disney +, Prime Video, Molotov, DNA… work properly. So it’s not necessarily a DRM problem. Fortunately, the Netflix website is operational, so you can watch your series and movies from Chrome.
MediaTek At The Orders：
Lenovo’s Ideapad Duet uses a 2.0 GHz octa-core MediaTek Helio P60T. In terms of power, this Chromebook is closer to a mid-range Snapdragon smartphone processor than the Intel chips found in most Chromebooks.
In practice, you will be able to open a dozen tabs on Chrome, but if you are looking to use several Android applications simultaneously, you will complicate matters. Economic behavior must be adopted.
Perhaps the most critical element is the graphics chipset. Android games run fine, but the external display is limited to Full HD at 30 fps. In addition, there are only 4 GB of RAM and 64 or 128 GB of flash storage (eMMC). Given the absence of expandable storage, you will need to carefully assess your needs before choosing the version that suits you.
But if you adopt the Chrome OS philosophy, you won’t need a lot of physical storage on a daily basis. Spotify, Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video… music and video no longer require abundant storage. Also, note that the IdeaPad Duet works great with Google Stadia cloud gaming service and Bluetooth controllers.
A Touch Tablet Screen
The Duet Chromebook uses a 10.1 inch IPS LCD screen in Full HD definition. In hand, it’s a bright screen in bright colors, but with a low contrast ratio and poor viewing angles.
Just pass our probe over it to put figures on this first feeling: the maximum measured brightness is 425 cd/m² (announced at 400 by Lenovo), which is correct, and the contrast is 960:1, a score rather average.
The color temperature is balanced, with 7200 K, the sRGB is covered at 101%, and the DCI-P3 covered at 68%. The color space is therefore not its strong point, but it provides the essentials on the sRGB (easier to manage than the DCI-P3).
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet is a light tablet in hand (920 grams with connected accessories for a battery capacity of 7180 mAh), but that does not mean that its autonomy is bad.
Conversely, it is a very correct autonomy that we could have during these few tests. Expect to be able to last a full day for heavy use (about 8-10 hours of continuous operation) or a few days depending on your usage.
The compromise, given its price, is on the side of fast charging: a full charge lasts about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The Duet is equipped with Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 4.2, a USB Type C 3.1 Gen2 port, but no microSD slot or 3.5 mm mini jack port. Lenovo still provides a 3.5mm jack adapter to connect headphones or earphones.
Lenovo Ideapad Duet Availability and Price
If you love it, you can buy one!