"The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet offers tremendous value for everything this affordable 2-in-1 tablet can do."
Outstanding build quality
Lighter than the iPad
Long battery life
Narrow keyboard layout
The whole package is a bit chunky
Google's Pixel Slate was promising. It was a 2-in-1 tablet with the flexibility of the Surface Pro, accompanied by the fullness of the Android app ecosystem. For one reason or another, the product was discontinued less than a year after its launch. It was such a failure that Google announced it would finally leave the tablet market and compete for products such as Microsoft's $ 400 Surface Go-2 and Apple's $ 329 iPad in the lower price range.
Now Lenovo is filling the hole that the Pixel Slate has left. The IdeaPad Duet is a compact 10.1-inch tablet with a starting price of $ 279. The best part? The stand cover and keyboard are included for this price. This is an attractive price for anyone looking for a tablet. Can the Duet for Chrome OS do what the Pixel Slate couldn't?
The Duet is in itself as slim a tablet as you would expect. It's 0.28 inches thick compared to the Microsoft Surface Go 2 at 0.33 inches and the base iPad at 0.29 inches. This is quite thin and makes it pleasant to hold the duet in one hand. The duets are also characterized by impressive build quality, with a combined metal and plastic case that feels solid and is exceptionally light at just £ 0.99. The Surface Go 2 costs £ 1.2 and the iPad £ 1.07.
Things change a little when you add the rear stand cover and keyboard. In this case, the duet, 0.71 inches thick and 2.03 pounds thick, gets pretty chunky. It's thicker and heavier than the Surface Go 2 with built-in stand and $ 130 type cover, and the iPad with $ 159 smart keyboard. Note that both the Duet and Surface Go 2 solutions include a touchpad, but not the iPad. You'll need to upgrade to the much more expensive iPad Pro and add the magic keyboard to include a touchpad in the keyboard cover.
The Duet is also an attractive tablet in its ice blue and iron gray color scheme, which is transferred to the fabric cover on the stand cover (at least the gray). It's a conservative design that's neither boring nor fancy, and ends up right in the goldilocks zone with good looks.
One disappointment is the only USB-C port that serves as the only connection. There's no 3.5mm audio jack and no included adapter – that's a shit that limits you to connecting headphones or speakers via Bluetooth. This is an area I wish it hadn't followed the example of the iPad. There is also no SD card slot, another disappointment. Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.2 ensure that you are connected wirelessly.
Keyboard and touchpad
As already mentioned, the Duet comes with a stand cover and a removable keyboard in the box, which makes the tablet an enormous value. With Surface Go 2 and iPad, spend at least $ 130 more to get the same functionality. The question is, what is the quality of these components?
The stand cover is attached to the back of the tablet with an amazingly strong magnet that makes for a surprisingly safe combination. The stand reaches up to an impressive 135 degrees. This fits the Surface Go 2 and leaves the tablet lying in a comfortable angle for coloring. It also holds the tablet at a good angle on a flat surface. However, like most detachable tablets, it's awkward in a round.
You'll spend hundreds more on a Surface Go 2 or iPad to use the same functionality.
The keyboard itself is a little less impressive. It is connected to the tablet via pogo pins and other magnets. It's safe to say the key spacing (the distance between the center of each key) is a healthy 18mm and the travel is 1.3mm. The layout still felt tight – especially the tiny punctuation marks on the right. However, the key mechanism was clicking and quiet, which is great. In contrast to Microsoft's award-winning Type Cover, the keyboard of the Duet cannot be supported at an angle, so that only the flat option is available.
The glass touchpad performs better. It is inevitably rather small due to the overall dimensions of the tablet, but it works smoothly and has a satisfactory click. Moving and using Chrome OS multi-touch gestures felt natural and precise. Then remove the back cover and keyboard and you get a slim tablet that is great for swiping through websites and reading e-books and other documents. The touch display reacts and everything feels natural again. You can pick up an active pen as an optional purchase.
There is a lot of value here. You'll spend hundreds more on a Surface Go 2 or iPad to use the same functionality – and value is the real story. The keyboard isn't perfect, but the fact that Lenovo includes it in the duet's low price makes things far more palatable.
Display and audio
Lenovo rates the display at 400 nits. Although I can't measure it with my colorimeter due to a lack of Chrome OS support, the screen seems bright enough for everyone except to work outdoors in direct sunlight. The colors of the display seem to be sufficient for internet surfing, productivity work, and watching Netflix, but they're probably not wide and not accurate enough for professional photo editing. And that's fine, because you don't want to work that way on this tablet.
You can get a better display on other tablets. The aspect ratio of 16:10 enables comfortable use in portrait format, and the resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 is sharp on the 10.1-inch panel. The larger 10.5-inch display of the Surface Go 2 with 3: 2 and 1,920 x 1,280 only offers a slightly higher resolution, but the difference is not noticeable. For comparison: The 10.2-inch 16:10 display of the iPad offers a much sharper resolution of 2,160 x 1,620 and a brightness of 500 nits.
The duet's audio is fine. There are two first-class speakers above the display that produce a decent sound that is sufficient for occasional YouTube videos or melodies. However, you should connect Bluetooth headphones or an external Bluetooth speaker.
The Duet is based on a MediaTek Helio P60T processor with eight cores and has 4 GB RAM. Storage is eMMC, which is common for Chromebooks, but not as fast as a solid-state drive. It can be configured with 64 GB for $ 279 and 128 GB for $ 299. It's clear that double the storage is worth the $ 20.
In terms of synthetic benchmarks, the first test I ran was Geekbench 4 (Geekbench 5 is probably not available for the Duet due to the processor). The duet scored 1,376 in the single-core test and 5528 points in the multi-core test. This is almost the end of our database, especially the single-core test, which is outperformed by older Intel Pentium processors. Next, I ran the Tachometer 2.0 test to see how well the MediaTek CPU performed on web-related tasks compared to the Intel alternatives. The duet scored 27 points in the test, which puts it at the bottom of our ranking. Again, you need to look at older Intel Pentium processors to get the same performance.
This isn't the fastest Chrome OS device I've used. By far not.
This isn't the fastest Chrome OS device I've used. By far not. For example, the Asus Chromebook Flip C436 achieved a much faster 97 with a relatively inexpensive 10th generation Intel Core i3 processor. The Chromebook Flip C436 was also much faster subjectively. Where the duo sometimes lagged behind when several Chrome tabs were open and some Android apps were running in the background, the Asus did not miss a beat. The difference is noticeable.
However, this does not make the duet perform poorly. Ultimately, I found it more than fast enough for the tasks I can imagine it to be: surfing the web, taking quick notes and making changes with the Android version of Microsoft Office apps, and watching YouTube videos and Netflix. It would be an excellent device for children and could even work well if brought to college. Chrome OS really helps here as it is so thin and light compared to Windows 10, but I will find that the Apple iPad is a bit smoother than the Duet.
The Duet can run Android games, but they're not as smooth as some other Chrome OS devices. A more demanding title like Asphalt 9 sometimes showed some choppiness, and you won't see that with the iPad. If gaming is important to you, consider Apple's tablet.
Being a slower and more energy efficient CPU – because that's another important aspect here – has its advantages. Although the Duet only has a battery capacity of 27 watt hours, which is fairly light, it showed excellent battery life.
For example, the duet in our most demanding Basemark web benchmark test lasted an impressive eight hours. This is one of the longest periods we've seen in this test, and it's much longer than the Surface Go 2 or iPad.
In our web browser test, the duet lasted almost 14 hours, which in turn is an excellent score and is more than three times as long as the Surface Go 2. This laptop will have to get you through a day and a half or more of work in front of you. If you want to watch videos, you are less impressed by the duet. We managed to go through our local Full HD Avengers trailer for 12.5 hours, which is good but not great. The Surface Go 2 managed around an hour less, which is the only battery test that it could keep up with the Duet.
A tablet is only as good as the software that runs it, and Chrome OS has come a long way. Thanks to the new software update, Chrome OS can now be run much better on a tablet than it was just a few weeks ago.
When you remove the tablet, the Duet automatically switches to Chrome OS tablet mode. In tablet mode you get some additional gestures, e.g. For example, swipe up to see all apps running, and swipe up and hold to open the app drawer. In the "Running apps" view, you can drag apps left and right to use Chrome OS's split screen view. Finally, Chrome has a new feature for showing open tabs. Switch to tablet mode and the tabs will disappear. They are replaced with a thumbnail view that you can access by tapping a number icon that indicates how many open tabs you are running.
All of these features are fluid enough to use, and they improve Chrome OS on a tablet like the Duet. It's more than what Windows 10 offers in tablet mode. More importantly, you can run Android apps for touchscreen devices directly from the Google Play Store. They run without problems and – apart from games – with a lot of performance as long as not too many apps are open at the same time.
Of course, Chrome OS iPadOS, which was developed exclusively for tablets, cannot withhold a candle. They don't have that many gestures at their disposal, and iPad apps tend to be more elegant and refined than many Android alternatives. Still, the Duet is a functional and usable tablet, and I can see that it takes a few minutes from my iPad.
The IdeaPad Duet is an OK tablet for the price. That said, if your budget is tight and you really want a Chromebook, the Duet will meet your needs without killing you.
But throw in the included stand cover and keyboard and suddenly the duet is a serious value. You'll spend hundreds more on another tablet to get the same functionality, and that makes the Duet a very attractive option indeed.
Are there alternatives?
It is obvious which products are most likely to compete with the IdeaPad Duet, and I compared them in this review. The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is the Windows 10 competitor. It costs about $ 100 more and has great options for Type Cover and Surface Pen that make it even more expensive. If you'd rather run Windows 10 than Chrome OS, Surface Go 2 is the natural alternative.
Then there is the entry-level Apple iPad for $ 329. There is no pen support that puts it behind the duet for anyone who wants to write or draw on the display, and the keyboard is an expensive addition. Here, too, it depends on the choice of operating systems: If you want iOS instead of Chrome OS, the iPad is the obvious choice.
If you prefer Chrome OS, but would rather use a Clamshell laptop, the $ 650 Pixelbook Go is probably your best bet. Yes, it's more expensive, but you get a better display, an excellent keyboard, and an overall improvement in build quality.
How long it will take?
Chrome OS is pretty efficient and is updated regularly. Therefore, the duet should take a while to become obsolete. And its physical construction should go far beyond the one-year warranty.
Should you buy it
Yes. At $ 279, the Duet is a bargain with the included stand cover and keyboard. You can even use it as a second or third device to surf the Internet more than enough. If you need something very portable to search a document, the Duet can do it too.