Back at CES 2020, five months and a thousand years ago, I got my first look at the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook. I was directly into the unit and named it my favorite thing from CES. I've been waiting for months to get it in my hands, and now I finally have one for review. I've only had it for a few days ̵1; not long enough for the full review it deserves – but I wanted to share some initial thoughts after using it over the weekend.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can give my CES impressions a read on the link above. Otherwise, here's a quick update on what the IdeaPad Duet is:
- 10.1-inch 1920 × 1200 screen
- 2.0 GHz MediaTek Helio P60T processor
- 4 GB RAM
- 64 or 128 GB storage
- 1x USB-C port, volume rocker, 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, removable keyboard, removable kickstand
- $ 279 (64 GB), $ 299 (128 GB)
- Specifications reviewed: 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 anyone else, call it what you want. Sometimes it is a tablet. Other times it is a laptop. Sometimes it has a kickstand, other times it doesn't.
That's the most beautiful thing about this device: it's what you need to be at that time. And it does so in a way that makes more sense than any other comparable device I've ever used. The iPad is good as a tablet, but when you add a keyboard it is … not as good. The surface (and more specifically Go) are fantastic little Windows drives, but they are bulky and cumbersome as tablets.
But IdeaPad Duet? It is so smartly designed. If not already complete, the whole system is made up of three parts: the tablet, the tripod, and the keyboard. It is a completely granular system. You can use all three at once, which is basically full laptop mode. But then you can pull off the keyboard and use the tablet with the tripod protector – great for watching videos or whatever. Since the kickstand folded flat against the unit, a la Surface, that would be good enough on its own. But Lenovo went a step further.
You can then remove the tripod cover, which fits the entire back of the unit. This means you lose the kickstand, but it dramatically turns your device into a badass little tablet. The biggest problem I've always had with all laptops / tablets hybrids is that they are generally heavy when used as a standalone tablet. But removing the tripod cover from IdeaPad Duet changes that – it's as easy as any tablet I've ever used at that time. I love it.
It's such a brilliant design and I really can't say enough good things about it – especially for $ 300 with everything included. Otherwise, I have not spent enough time to really get a feeling for much else. But here are some quick bullets before the review:
- The screen is amazing. It's high at 1920 × 1200, and it shows. Out of the box everything is huge, so some adjustments are needed to get it just right. The original resolution will make everything too small for everyone except the best eyes (read: not mine), so I've determined in the above step (1662 × 1038). It seems to be the best balance between readability and productivity, although it makes touch targets quite small.
- The keyboard is quite cramped, especially on the right side. It takes a little getting used to, but at the end of this practical step I could touch it most of the time. The dash and backspace keys – two that I use often – are very small and I often miss them. Also, there is no backlight on the keyboard, but now I'm just nitpicky.
- The touchpad is small and definitely not glass. All the track plates I've used recently are glass, so it's immediately obvious that it's different. Of course, for $ 300, I don't expect glass – so it's more of a quick reality check than anything.
- There is only a single USB-C port, which is slightly offset at first redness. But after thinking about it, it makes sense – when's the last time you heard someone complain that the iPad only has a single Lightning port?
- There is no headphone jack. It will upset some people, but where is a USB-C to 3.5 mm adapter in the box. At least that's something.
- It is compatible with all USI Stylus, although there is no one in the box. I don't have one on hand to test, but I'll see if I can hold one before the entire review.
- Early impressions of the show are great. I have multitasked like a madman trying to kill it and haven't done it yet. But don't worry – I will. I let you know in the full review how far you can run this thing.
So yeah, that's all I have right now. I'll have a full review ready to go in a couple of weeks, so watch out.