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Lenovo Chromebook Duet review

A budget-friendly miniature 2-in-1 laptop with nearly 13 hours of battery life

Lenovo Chromebook Duet
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a low-priced 2-in-1 with nearly 13 hours of battery life, but it has a cramped detachable keyboard.

For

  • Lasts long on a charge
  • Comes with keyboard/kickstand
  • Colorful display
  • Decent performance
  • Ultraportable design
  • Extremely affordable

Against

  • Cramped keyboard
  • No headphone jack
Lenovo Chromebook Duet specs

Price: $279
CPU:  MediaTek Helio P60T
GPU:  ARM G72 MP3
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB eMMC
Display: 10.1-inch, 1920x1200
Battery: 12:46
Size: 9.6 x 6.7 x 0.7
Weight: 2 pounds

If you snag the Lenovo Chromebook Duet — a 2-in-1 laptop that comes with a detachable keyboard and kickstand cover — prepare to hear the following words spill out of admirers’ mouths as their jaws hit the floor: “Wait a minute! I thought that was a notebook!”

At first glance, The Lenovo Chromebook Duet (reviewed at $279) looks like an innocuous journal, but open that bad boy up, and it’s a small laptop with a colorful 10.1-inch display. 

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

(Image credit: Future)

But this device’s transformative capability isn’t its only alluring feature — the Lenovo Chromebook Duet lasted almost 13 hours on our battery test, which beats the 10-hour average runtime for Chromebooks. 

The price is another big selling point of the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. For under $300, you can own a lightweight machine that can endure all your intensive web multitasking. However, because of its small digital footprint, you may feel uncomfortable typing on this Chromebook’s miniature keyboard.

Still, this Lenovo Chromebook Duet has just enough “oomph” to land a spot on our best Chromebooks and best laptops under $300 pages. 

Lenovo Chromebook Duet price and configurations 

My review unit, priced at $279, packs a 2-GHz MediaTek Helio P60T octa-core processor, an ARM G72 MP3 GPU, 4GB of RAM and 64GB eMMC flash storage. For $299, you can upgrade to 128GB of storage. With just a $20 difference between the two configurations, you should opt for the upgrade. 

Lenovo Chromebook Duet design 

Let’s start with the tablet. On its own, without the kickstand cover and detachable keyboard, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is an unassuming tablet with thick, obsolete bezels.

The back of the tablet has a two-tone color scheme of iron-gray and light blue. You’ll also find an unpretentious, black Chrome logo. On the top-right corner, there’s a hard-to-miss, 8 megapixel rear camera. On the top-left corner, you’ll find the words “Lenovo” printed in black on a small, rectangular silver plate.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

(Image credit: Future)

The top of the tablet features dual speakers and mics, and the bottom is equipped with pogo pins for keyboard attachment. The top bezel sports a 2MP front-facing camera.

The tablet is a fingerprint haven, so I’d recommend keeping the magnetic kickstand cover snapped on to thwart smudges. The kickstand cover has the look and feel of a twill business suit, which gives the Duet a professional aesthetic.

You can use the fancy kickstand cover to prop up the tablet. After snapping on the edge-to-edge, dark-gray keyboard, you’ve got yourself a miniature laptop. 

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

(Image credit: Future)

You can also fold the laptop into a book-like form and onlookers would be amazed to discover that you’re not holding a little notebook.

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a featherweight machine that can fit snugly in the small compartment of my travel tote. The whole package, stand cover and keyboard included, weighs only 2 pounds. The Duet weighs less than its competitors: the Samsung Chromebook 3 (2.5 pounds) and the HP Chromebook x360 12b (3 pounds).

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet with the keyboard and kickstand cover has the dimensions of 9.6 x 6.7 x 0.7 inches while the tablet alone is 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.3 inches. The miniature Chrome OS laptop is smaller than its rivals: the Samsung Chromebook 3’s footprint is 11 x 8 x 0.7 inches while the HP Chromebook x360 12b takes up 11 x 9 x 0.7 inches.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet ports

So, you want to know about the Duet’s ports? I’d remove the “s” — this Chromebook only has one USB Type-C port that supports power charging, data transfer, DisplayPort and USB on-the-go.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet ports

(Image credit: Future)

A headphone jack is notably absent, however, Lenovo was considerate enough to include a USB Type-C-to-3.5 mm headphone jack adapter with the Duet.

If you need more ports, check out our best USB Type-C hubs and best laptop docking stations pages. 

Lenovo Chromebook Duet display 

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet sports a 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1200 display that’s impressively colorful. However, the tablet’s screen has chunky bezels that might turn you off if you’re seeking a more modern look. 

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

(Image credit: Future)

But the Duet is a budget-friendly Chromebook, so I can concede the lack of slim bezels as a reasonable trade off.

I watched the Tenet trailer and the display was satisfactory. I could make out the beads of sweat on the main actor’s forehead and as well as the bulging veins on his temples. On close-up scenes of the protagonist’s face, I could spot pores on his forehead. The Duet showed off its color capabilities as a bright, vibrant yellow ship sailed by on choppy waters.

Compared with its competitors, the Duet’s display emitted the widest range of colors with 106% coverage of the sRGB color gamut. The Samsung Chromebook 3 had the most limited color range (63%) followed by the HP Chromebook x360 12b (79%). The Duet’s colorful display also outperformed the category average (78%).

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

(Image credit: Future)

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is also highly color accurate with a near-perfect 0.2 Delta-E rating (closer to 0 is best). This aligns with the Samsung Chromebook 3’s 0.2 Delta-E rating, but the Duet beats the HP Chromebook x360 12b’s 0.3 rating. The Duet also surpassed the color accuracy of the average Chromebook by a landslide (12.61).

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet doesn’t have the most brilliant screen, reaching 372 nits of brightness, but this mini 2-in-1 shined brighter than its rivals; The Samsung Chromebook 3 only output 259 nits of brightness while the HP Chromebook x360 12b is even dimmer with 216 nits of brightness. The Duet’s display also beat the brilliance of the average Chromebook (270 nits).

With the latest Chrome 81 update, Google added some new touchscreen gestures that I successfully experimented with on the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, including swiping and holding to launch the split-screen mode.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet keyboard and touchpad 

I have a bone to pick with the Lenovo Chromebook Duet’s edge-to-edge, iron-black detachable keyboard. But first, let’s start with the pros. Snapping the magnetic keyboard into place was easy as pie, and the keys have a satisfying and clicky tactile response.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

(Image credit: Future)

Now here’s where my dissatisfaction comes in. Tapping away on the Duet’s cramped keyboard, I typed at an abysmal 65 words per minute on the 10FastFingers.com test, which is far below my typical 87 wpm average. The reason for my wpm rate drop? Lenovo halved the size of some keys, so I had difficulties adjusting to the Duet’s confined keyboard design.

Personally, I couldn’t see myself using this laptop as a productivity machine — the cramped keyboard just doesn’t cut it for me. I’d prefer the Duet as a travel companion. I could visualize myself using this miniature Chromebook at the airport where I can access some of my work on the cloud without having to carry a laptop with a larger footprint.

The touchpad, measuring 3.4 x 1.9 inches, responded well to Chromebook gestures, such as a two-finger swipe to revisit a previous page and a three-finger downward move to open all windows.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet audio 

For a budget Chromebook, the audio on the Duet is exactly what I expected: they’re simply OK. The dual speakers — positioned on the top of the tablet — delivered well-balanced sound with decent audio quality.

I listened to “This City” by Sam Fischer on Spotify, and the sentimental ballad sounded smooth and angelic on the speakers as Fischer crooned his heart out. However, when I listened to songs with heavy bass drops, it sounded marginally distorted, but it didn’t sour my listening experience.

The Duet’s dual speakers filled my medium-sized, social-distancing prison cell — er, I mean room —  just fine. But in a bigger space, the speakers will likely struggle to take over the room.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet performance  

I bombarded the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, equipped with a MediaTek Helio P60T CPU and 4GB of RAM, with 24 Google Chrome tabs. I added a tab that played a 1080p YouTube video and opened up Google Docs. There were a few negligible seconds of lag as the Duet loaded the new Chrome tab, but as I got into the flow of typing on Google Docs, I was surprised to see that there was no system slowdown — I wrote paragraph after paragraph without experiencing any lag.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet battery life

(Image credit: Future)

Scoring 5,526 on the Geekbench 4 overall performance benchmark, the Duet crushed two competitors: the HP Chromebook x360 12b (3,400), which is equipped with an Intel Celeron N400 and 4GB of RAM, and the HP Chromebook 14 (2,733), which is powered by an Intel Celeron N3350 CPU and 4GB of RAM. The Duet also scored higher than the average Chromebook, which has an overall-performance score of 5,293.

However, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet faltered on the JetStream Javascript benchmark, which tests the speediness of web-page loading. The Duet scored 31.9, while the HP Chromebook x360 12b (49.7) and the HP Chromebook 14 (57.8) outpaced the miniature Chromebook. The Duet was also defeated by the category average of 98.8.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet battery life 

Lenovo claimed that the Chromebook Duet has a battery runtime of 10 hours, which I expected to be a slight exaggeration (check out my Laptop battery life estimates are rarely accurate article), but as it turns out, Lenovo actually undersold the Duet’s battery longevity.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

(Image credit: Future)

When we ran our battery life test on the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, this little firecracker gave us 12 hours and 46 minutes of vivacity. The Duet’s rivals — the Samsung Chromebook 3 and the HP Chromebook x360 12b — couldn’t beat the miniature Chromebook with battery runtimes of 9 hours and 44 minutes and 8 hours and 6 minutes, respectively. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet also conquered the average battery runtime of Chromebooks, which is 10 hours and 19 minutes.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet webcams 

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet webcam has two cameras: a 2MP front camera and an 8MP rear camera.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

(Image credit: Future)

Despite the low price point of the Duet, the webcams weren’t as tragic as I thought they would be. Crisp and detailed, the cameras picked up my facial imperfections -- pores and dark circles -- perfectly. The webcams also captured my complexion quite well and mirrored back the bright-pink color of my bathrobe.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet software and warranty 

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet, of course, runs Chrome OS and features a taskbar with quick access to Chrome, Google Docs and the Google Play Store. Using the Google Play Store, you can download all of your favorite apps, including Netflix, YouTube and Disney+.You can also enjoy some light gaming with entertaining apps such as Asphalt 9.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

(Image credit: Future)

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet comes with automatic updates that run in the background every six weeks, so the device will sport the latest software without interrupting you. This is guaranteed for up to 8 years.

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet comes with a one-year limited warranty. See how Lenovo fared in our annual special reports, including Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands

Bottom line 

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet reminds me of the Microsoft Surface Go with its miniature design, convenient kickstand and detachable keyboard, but the Duet’s $279 pricing is more palatable — plus the keyboard actually comes with the package.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

(Image credit: Future)

The Duet also has a colorful touchscreen display and it outperforms all of its Chromebook rivals on performance, battery life and brightness. And because of its spectacular low price, I’m willing to overlook the Duet’s thick bezels and absent headphone jack.

However, there’s one major setback with the Duet: its cramped keyboard. Personally, I’d recommend the Duet for on-the-go travelers seeking a secondary, super-small device that adds very little weight to their luggage as they hop from airport to airport. It’s so small, travelers can prop the Duet up on the airplane tray table and get some light work done before coming home to a larger workstation.I’d also recommend the Duet for kids who want an attractive 2-in-1 for light gaming, YouTube, Netflix and web browsing.

For intensive productivity that requires hours and hours of typing, however, the Duet’s keyboard is a letdown. For this use case, I’d recommend the HP Chromebook x360 12b — it’s within the same price range as the Duet and the keyboard is a dream.

But if you’re a Chrome OS-loving frequent traveler or a busy bee seeking a smaller, secondary display, I’d suggest the Duet in a heartbeat. Admittedly, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is still an amazing bang-for-your-buck product that’s a total star in the 2-in-1 Chromebook space.