Lenovo Duet review: Netbook reborn (and that’s a good thing!)

Lenovo Duet evaluate: Netbook reborn (and that’s a very good factor!)

As somebody who loves giant, sharp shows, highly effective processors, and oodles of storage I’ve to confess that I miss the times of netbooks. If you’re too younger to recollect, netbooks got here out within the late 2000s which have been roughly low-powered mini laptops. They have been well-liked on faculty campuses for his or her portability and ease of use. Alas, they’ve lengthy since died out with the rise of smartphones, tablets, and ultrabooks taking their place.

Does this imply there isn’t a spot for a smaller computing machine with a keyboard and trackpad? Hardly! Lenovo does its greatest to revive an outdated system with the Duet, a 10-inch device with a keyboard and kickstand that punches far above its $300 price ticket.

The query actually is, did Lenovo have to chop an excessive amount of out of this machine to maintain it low cost, or did they strike the appropriate stability of options to make you open up your pockets?

It actually doesn’t matter what type it’s, but when it’s a pill in 2021, it’s going to get in comparison with the iPad. The iPad is such a power of nature that it has dominated the marketplace for over a decade now. Are you able to consider the iPad got here out 11 years in the past?

This isn’t an iPad. It’s not an iPad competitor or clone or ripoff. The Lenovo Duet is its personal machine and there’s actually not quite a lot of different comparable units in the marketplace proper now.

Let’s Go

First issues first, the Duet comes with Chrome OS, not Android. You get all some great benefits of Chrome OS like fast boot occasions, lack of viruses, nice battery life, and many others.

I’ve used Chrome OS semi-regularly through the years however Lenovo says that is the primary pill to launch with a model of Chrome particularly designed for convertibles.

The Duet features a few particular modes like Sort Mode, Watch Mode, and Browse mode. I wasn’t capable of finding an actual distinction between Browse Mode and Watch Mode, however you do get particular navigation gestures in these two modes to make it simpler to get across the OS when the keyboard isn’t connected. It’s supposed to offer you entry to the app doc by a brief swipe up, your regular lengthy swipe as much as go dwelling and to entry the latest apps.

There’s additionally a split-screen mode that in principle ought to make multitasking simpler however usually falls quick as a consequence of apps not displaying accurately on this mode. Sort Mode is strictly what you suppose it’s.

The OS appears like an unfinished challenge and that’s not essentially a foul factor. Android and iOS didn’t come out of the gate within the state they’re in now and Chrome OS shouldn’t be anticipated to work on convertibles completely proper now both.

I’ve little question that Google will proceed to make progress right here and refine the system to work higher with all kinds of {hardware}. The Duet is simply the primary out of the gate and should you choose one up, chances are you’ll really feel a bit like a beta tester.

Software program and Apps

That leads us to apps, that are nonetheless a blended bag. Most apps I used have been completely tremendous on Chrome OS. The entire Android apps that I downloaded would not less than launch, although some skilled some bizarre scaling points; some would lag occasionally.

Google’s first-party apps like Chrome, Pictures, and others have been nice and I by no means had a difficulty. I attempted to make use of some productiveness apps like Workplace and a few video games like Amongst Us that will crash occasionally however have been total a very good expertise.


The great expertise extends to the {hardware} on the Lenovo Duet. I can’t inform you how impressed I used to be with the construct high quality of the pill in addition to the included kickstand and keyboard. At $300, the Duet has no enterprise being this well-built.

An aluminum alloy physique homes a single USB C port, entrance and rear cameras, and a 10-inch, 1080p 16:10 show. And all of that’s underneath one pound with out the keyboard or kickstand connected.

With issues securely connected by way of magnets, we’re at simply above two kilos, which is principally nothing. The remainder of the important thing specs embody 4GB of RAM, 64 or 128 GB of storage (non-expandable), and a battery rated for 10 hours of use. Not too unhealthy in any respect, although I believe the exclusion of expandable storage and a headphone jack, even on a finances machine, are usually not excusable. This can be a machine that’s designed to get some work accomplished and people two issues would make it infinitely simpler to maneuver recordsdata from machine to machine and join headphones or a headset to make use of for video conferencing.

Talking of video conferencing… I discovered the expertise to be not unhealthy. The system doesn’t fairly have sufficient horsepower to do a lot else whilst you’re on a name, however the front-facing digicam is best than you’d count on for a 2MP shooter. The audio system do a ok job of pumping out the audio.

For those who’re in a crowded place, you need to be utilizing headphones anyway, however you’ll positively wish to convey some together with you as a result of the audio system aren’t the loudest. Moreover, should you plan to take the Duet on the go, remember that the display screen isn’t tremendous shiny and might be exhausting to see exterior in very sunny environments. I think you’ll be tremendous more often than not, although.

I’ve been utilizing the Duet primarily within the kitchen. And very often. As I endeavor to be reduce weight, I’ve gotten into cooking and meals prep fairly a bit extra — the Duet has been a improbable companion for that.

The kickstand is stiff and doesn’t lock into place which is nice as a result of I can angle it nonetheless I would like. The truth that it’s a touchscreen and I’m not compelled into utilizing the keyboard attachment implies that I can get my arms soiled, press one thing on the display screen and simply wipe it away once I can get to it.

I’ve additionally discovered that little touches tremendous useful corresponding to having the ability to unlock the Duet when it’s paired to my telephone.

What else?

I might like to inform you the port choice is nearly as good as the remainder of the pill however sadly, it isn’t. The one USB C port is an enormous hindrance except you put money into a dock. And positive, should you’re solely dropping $300, I suppose you’ve got some further money to take a position into one however I really feel like Lenovo ought to have accomplished higher right here.

Charging up the pill means your capacity to attach peripherals is nil and we have to remind ourselves that Lenovo is positioning this as a tool that permits you to get some work accomplished. There’s no microSD card slot so the one alternative now we have for extra storage is both by way of the cloud or an exterior drive.

Do you wish to join your personal keyboard so that you don’t have to make use of the considerably cramped keyboard? You higher hope it has Bluetooth. The identical as a mouse so that you don’t have to make use of the extraordinarily small however usable trackpad.

Your entire story of the Lenovo Duet is compromise and simply how a lot you’re prepared to make. $300 shouldn’t be some huge cash for a tool like this, however it’s smaller than an affordable ultrabook and the processor is considerably underpowered.

Positive, it will get most of your duties accomplished with ease however opening 10+ Chrome tabs, video conferencing, or exporting a video or graphical file is painful at occasions.

The battery life is improbable at over 10 hours of use however the included charger takes ceaselessly to charging this factor again up. You’ll wish to cost it in a single day and also you higher hope you get a very good night time’s sleep.


Personally, I actually loved my time with the Duet and I’ll in all probability choose one up for myself. It scratches that itch of fast productiveness, but it surely additionally delivers a very good second display screen expertise once I’m sitting on the sofa or when my daughter desires to look at one thing whereas we’re out at dinner.

It typically lives both in my work bag, the place I don’t even discover its presence, or within the kitchen the place I take advantage of it virtually each time I stroll in to make some meals. I’m by no means going to attempt to sport on this factor nor do I count on to do heavy video modifying. That’s simply not what it’s designed to do.

At $300 or less, I don’t suppose you’re going to seek out significantly better than this in the marketplace within the subsequent yr or so. It’s an amazing machine at hand to your youngsters to get some college work accomplished, entertain them, or bang out a fast work e-mail with out firing up your laptop. I simply want Netbooks have been this good back in my day.

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