I love Chromebooks, they're the perfect answer for me to have that kind of laptop experience but stay so close to my Googley fondness.
The latest for me to test out is the Lenovo's Duet.
Duet because it can act as a tablet and a laptop, similar to the Pixelbook Slate where the display is just a tablet, but then pop the keyboard on and it's a laptop.
Except that with this, the keyboard comes WITH it for free, and it's less than $400CDN.
Wait, under $400?!? Yeah.
There's got to be a catch, right? Well, yeah. Let's go to the review:
Okay, for $400 let's see what specs you get with it:
- 10.1" @ 1900x1200
- MediaTek Helio P60T 2.0GHz x8
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB storage
- 8MP rear camera
- 2MP selfie camera
- 7,000mAh (10hrs)
So, yeah, it's not super impressive - but I'm pretty snobby lately for my devices. But, c'mon, you get the tablet and a keyboard. Diving in we go.
The first thing is you get the keyboard 'case', but really it's in 2 parts.
One is the backplate for the tablet. It snaps on it by magnets and fits snugly with a little hole for the camera. You'll notice a ridge running down the middle and that's the 'swing part' as you can bend it out to be the rest stop and have the display now stand at an angle.
I like the material feeling of the back, almost like a denim and it matches my Pixel cases almost perfectly.
The other half is the keyboard which magnetically snaps to the bottom on the pogo pins. There's just a little flappy bit from the actual keyboard on a rubber 'hinge' that actually connects to the pins.
It looks flimsy, but it's seems to be holding just fine. You expect it almost to not line up properly, but it does it's job.
The downside of this set up is that unlike a regular laptop that has a proper hinge will keep the monitor upright, whereas this needs some bracing support, so it needs that back piece, meaning that the footprint for the device is much 'longer' (deeper?) than just the keyboard.
Whereas with a laptop you could make due with a teeny tiny piece of lap or edge of my chair to work, with this I need much more. So working just anywhere is not exactly just that... unless you want to remove the keyboard and just use it as a tablet.
An odd piece is that when you connect and fold it up, the ends don't quite make that uniorm closure look as if it's different sizes.
My OCD kicks in just that much.
Going around the device you'll find just the power and volume on the lower (or right) side, same as the USB-C port.
What you won't find is anything like a microSD slot, or even a headphone jack. Hey, it's under $400 right!
But that's fine, we really don't need it for much. But headphones would have been nice as I find the speakers a little 'meh'.
They're firing out of the top, which makes good sense, but they're not as LOUD or clear as I would have liked.
Using the keyboard is good. The trackpad is really responsive and has a nice 'click' to it when you want to actually press it.
As the display is just 10" it's a little small as far as tablets go so it is a little smaller keyboard as well - meaning that similar to the keyboard with the Tab S4 the buttons are a little cozier next to each other. It's not so bad for most of the letters themselves, but definitely where the "-" and "0" are, anything around there I find it a little harder to be accurate.
I was typing a lot of dates at one point and a lot of my 2020 were 2029 or 2929. Just had make myself a little more cautious when I type those.
Speaking of the size, the 10" is fine, and I'm used to my Tab size, but maybe it's the keyboard and it feels a little smaller.
Doesn't help with the thick bezels around it.
Then there's awkward sizing options with Chromebooks that you can adjust the 'resolution', and nothing quite feels 'right'. Just seems awkward. It keeps its full resolution but then 'acts like' it's a different. Either it feels small with large text and icons, or I strain my eyes with it at super large but the font and icons are teeny tiny. I'm not faulting Lenovo, it's a ChromeOS thing.
I like the display otherwise. The panel is has good colour and sharpness, takes the right lighting and it does it well.
Now, in terms of using this device it does everything you expect a Chromebook to do. Log in and all my Chrome apps and bookmarks and whatnot all show up. It has access to the Play Store.
It just does everything a wee bit slower than I'm used to. Sure, it's fine. Most people would hardly notice, but I'm used to more of the flagship level of devices.
Sure, using it to watch YouTube, reading websites, editing Google Sheets and it's all fine and dandy.
But now and again I notice that sometimes swapping tabs are a bit slower. Loading a video takes a fraction of a second longer than I think it should. I've even noticed that sometimes if I'm typing that my response is a little slower.
It's barely perceptible, but it's there all the same.
I'm not complaining at all, in fact I'm impressed based on the pricing it does as well.
Where it does even better is the battery. It says 10 hours, and now I've never really tested it to those limits, I've used it for like 2 hours and then left it for half a day and then did another 2 hour zoom conference and it barely seems to have registered, then I leave it over the weekend until Sunday and it's still about 50%.
I've been typing and searching for over 2 hours at this point, I forgot to measure what % it was at, but it's at 68% now and saying that it still can do another almost 9 hours. A little simple math says it should mean the batter is good for almost 13 hours. Impressive when it claims only 10. (it's been another hour and it's only dropped 5% but saying 7h44m left ... 7.75h ÷ 63% = 12.3 hrs)
Further testing is truly needed, but I'm pretty sure it should be good for anyone's normal day.
Couple the fact it's like super portable with the neat little case, it'll last for a long while and it's a perfect little mobile buddy.
Sure, it's a little slow, not sluggish, but it's not super snappy either.
The only major downside I have would be the lack of ports. Your only option for any add-ons to this would be through some sort of dongle. But which, do you want headphones, or HDMI or USB-A...
..but then that kinda negates the purpose of some nice portable device, keep it free from other ensnarements and just use it as is.
Heck, it's only $400 right?