Back at CES 2020, five months and a thousand years ago, I got my first look at the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook. I was immediately in the device and called it my favorite thing from CES. I've been waiting for months to get my hands on it and now I finally have one for review. I've only had it for a few days ̵
If you have no idea what I'm babbling about, you can read my CES impressions at the link above. Otherwise, here's a quick refresh of what the IdeaPad Duet is:
- 10.1-inch 1920 x 1200 display
- 2.0 GHz MediaTek Helio P60T processor
- 4 GB RAM
- 64 or 128 GB storage
- 1x USB-C port, volume knob, power button ( no headphone jack)
- 8 MP rear camera, 2 MP front camera
- 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac, Bluetooth 4.2
- In the box: tablet, detachable keyboard, detachable stand
- $ 279 (64 GB), $ 299 (128 GB)
- Specifications as revised: 128 GB  Available today from Lenovo
So, is it a tablet or is it a laptop? Yes . If you ask Lenovo, don't call it a tablet. But if you ask almost everyone else, call it whatever you want. Sometimes it is a tablet. Other times it is a laptop. Sometimes it has a standard, sometimes it doesn't.
That's the best thing about this device: It's what you want it to be at the time. And it does it in a way that makes more sense than any other comparable device I've ever used. The iPad is great as a tablet, but if you add a keyboard it's not that good. The Surface (and more specifically the Go) are great little Windows devices, but they're bulky and clunky like tablets.
But the IdeaPad Duet? It is so cleverly designed. If it is not clear yet, the whole system consists of three parts: the tablet, the standard cover and the keyboard. It is a completely granular system. You can use all three simultaneously, which is basically full laptop mode. But then you can pull the keyboard off and use the tablet with the standard cover – great for watching videos or whatever. Since the stand folds flat against the device, a la Surface, would be good enough on its own. But Lenovo went a step further.
You can then remove the standard cover, which fits over the entire back of the machine. This means you lose the stand, but it dramatically turns the device into a badass small tablet. The biggest problem I've always had with all laptop / tablet hybrids is that they are generally heavy when used as a standalone tablet. But removing the IdeaPad Duet's standard cover changes that – it's as light as any tablet I've ever used. I love it.
It's such a gorgeous design and I really can't say enough good things about it – especially for $ 300 including everything. Otherwise I didn't spend enough time to get really a feeling for much else. But here are some quick bullets for the rating:
- The screen is great. It has a high resolution of 1920 × 1200 and it shows. Out of the box, everything is huge, so it takes some adjustments to get it just right. The native resolution will make everything too small for anyone but the best of eyes (read: not mine), so I took the step up there (1662 × 1038). It seems to be the best balance between readability and productivity, although it does make the touch targets quite small.
- The keyboard is quite tight, especially on the right side. It takes some getting used to, but by the end of this hands-on, I was able to touch it for the most part. The dash and backspace keys – two that I often use – are very small and I often miss them. There's no backlight on the keyboard either, but now I'm just nitpicky.
- The trackpad is small and definitely not made of glass. All the trackpads I've used lately are made of glass, so it's immediately clear that this is different. At $ 300, of course, I don't expect glass, so that's more of a quick reality check than anything.
- There is only one USB-C port, which is somewhat unpleasant at first glance. But when you think about it, it makes sense: When was the last time you heard someone complain that the iPad only has one Lightning port?
- There is no headphone jack. That will upset some people, but there is a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter in the box. At least that's something.
- It is compatible with any USI Stylus, although not one is included in the box. I don't have one on hand to test, but I'll see if I can hold one for the full review.
- Early impressions of the performance are great. I'm multitasking like crazy trying to get it bogged down and haven't done it yet. But don't worry, I'll do it. I will let you know in the full review how far you can go.
So yes, that's all I have now. I'll have a full review ready in a few weeks, so be on the lookout.