Laptop Mag Verdict
The Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook can’t compete on power, but it makes up for it with a gorgeous OLED display, over 13 hours of battery life and a versatile 2-in-1 form factor.
Excellent battery life
Detachable 2-in-1 design
Bright, vivid OLED display
Keyboard and cover included
Stylus not included
Weak performance for the price
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The Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook is a significant departure from last year’s affordable Chromebook Duet. Although the higher price tag may drive some away, the considerable hardware upgrades make this 2-in-1 just as compelling.
The Duet 5 still features a fabric rear case and keyboard cover like the previous model, but open it up and the 13.3-inch OLED display will make you check that sub-$500 price again. The changes run deeper than that with a dramatically improved Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 processor, while also delivering over 13 hours on a single charge.
While it may not be the scrappy budget champ that the original Chromebook Duet was, the Duet 5 has bulked up and is ready to take on some heavyweight competition among the best Chromebooks and best laptops under $500 available today as well as one of the best 13-inch systems.
Price: $429 ($499 as reviewed)
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2
RAM: 8GB LPDDR4X
Storage: 128GB eMMC
Display: 13.3-inch, 1920x1080-pixel OLED touchscreen
Size: 12 x 7.4 x 0.28 inches
Weight: 2.24 pounds (with keyboard/case); 1.5 pounds (tablet only)
Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook price and configuration options
The Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook comes in two configurations: the base model is $429 and includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 1 processor, integrated graphics, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage and an OLED display (1920 x 1080 pixels).
My review unit is the $499 variant, which features the same display, but upgrades everything else with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of eMMC storage.
The base model is Storm Grey, while the higher-end model only comes in Abyss Blue. The color carries through from the tablet’s aluminum chassis to the cloth back cover and snap-on keyboard.
Steer clear of the base model. While the Snapdragon processor upgrade isn’t significant, doubling the RAM and storage is worth the $70 price difference.
Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook design
Microsoft deserves a lot of credit for popularizing fabric-based designs with its Alcantara-wrapped Surface products, but last year’s Lenovo Chromebook Duet and the Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 brought that look to a more affordable realm. We were enamored with both in our reviews, comparing them to a notebook and a tweed journal, respectively.
Despite its similar magnetized fabric back cover and keyboard, the Duet 5 doesn’t pull off the look quite as well. It may be the dark “Abyss Blue” color, but it also lacks the stitched finish of the original Chromebook Duet or Detachable CM3, which was a big part of the charm to me. The Duet 5 fabric has a stippled surface that looks more like denim to me, but critically, it still offers a much more comfortable feel than cold aluminum.
Looks aside, the cover and keyboard are remarkably effective at transforming this Chrome OS tablet into a great laptop. The hinged stand on the back cover allows you to place the display at almost any angle and holds it there reliably. I’ll go into more detail on the keyboard later, but I was shocked at how well this combination worked with the Duet 5 in my lap. That’s frequently a downfall of detachable 2-in-1 laptops and I had no issues typing with the Duet 5 in that position.
Stripped of its comfortable, protective fabric cover and keyboard, the Duet 5 is a pretty standard, if large, tablet. The back offers a bit of personality with a two-tone finish that is glossy at the bottom, turning to matte for its top quarter. It’s otherwise primarily featureless, with the familiar Chromebook logo centered toward the bottom and the glinting silver Lenovo badge at the top corner opposite the rear camera.
The 16:9 aspect ratio and 13.3-inch display make it a bit of a handful as a tablet, but with the included cover, it’s easy to prop it up in a perfect position and appreciate that beautiful OLED display. The tablet alone is 12 x 7.4 x 0.28 inches and 1.5 pounds; adding the keyboard and cover takes that to about 0.48-inches and 2.24 pounds. Either configuration should pretty easily slip into any laptop bag and is light enough to haul with you anywhere.
Considering the vastly larger display that’s not bad compared to the Lenovo Chromebook Duet (9.6 x 6.7 x 0.7 inches, 2 pounds), HP Chromebook x2 11 (9.9 x 4.6 x 0.3 inches, 2.6 pounds) or Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 (12.7 x 8.9 x 0.68 inches, 2 pounds).
While I would prefer some different choices on the color and finish for the case and keyboard, I can’t argue with the utility. I still prefer the feel of this fabric cover to an all-metal body for a 2-in-1 that I’ll switch between laptop and tablet mode. I also give Lenovo credit for spicing things up just a bit with the two-tone finish.
Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook ports
The Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook has three ports: two USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 and the pogo pins that connect the keyboard cover.
My only complaint is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone/mic jack. Particularly for a device like this that is so well-suited to media consumption, it seems like an oversight. With that said, the vast majority of us have given up this fight and moved to wireless headphones already, so it’s not a dealbreaker. If you do need to plug anything that isn’t USB-C into the Duet 5, then the dual ports make using a USB Type-C hub while charging a non-issue.
Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook display
The Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook’s OLED display would be impressive at almost any price point, but it is astounding at less than $500. The 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel touchscreen display is better than many laptops twice its price.
The 16:9 aspect ratio can be a little awkward for handling it as a tablet, but it’s perfect for watching videos. Remove the keyboard and you have a sub-two pound tablet with a stand that can sit at any angle horizontally or prop it up vertically if you are looking for a big-screen Tik Tok experience.
I watched the trailer for “Spider-Man: Across The Spider-verse” and the surreal neon cityscape that Miles is dragged into pops off the screen and the razor-sharp display shows off the brilliant minute details that helped win the original an Oscar for best animated feature. While the aggressive swirling colors are a bit of an assault on the senses, the display depicts them flawlessly.
The colorimeter in the lab was similarly impressed with the Duet 5 reproducing 85.2% of the DCI-P3 color gamut. Only the Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3 (93.6%) has managed a better result in this price range, with the Duet 5 finishing well ahead of the Lenovo Chromebook Duet (74.9%), the HP Chromebook X2 11 (71%), and the Chromebook average (70%).
The brightness test was solid, with the Duet 5 hitting an average of 361 nits. That’s well beyond the Chromebook average (270 nits) and enough to overpower a reasonably sunny environment, but comes in behind its nearest competitors. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet (372 nits), the Detachable CM3 (386 nits) and the Chromebook X2 11 (425 nits) all just happen to be standouts in this regard.
If color accuracy is important to you, then the Duet 5 belongs on your shortlist. It managed 0.22 on our Delta-E color accuracy test (lower is better), which lumbered behind the Lenovo Chromebook Duet (0.2). The Detachable CM3 (0.34) and Chromebook X2 11 (0.3) came in a distant 3rd and 4th.
While it may not win in every category, the Duet 5 display is a pleasure to behold. Particularly considering its price range, the deeper blacks and outstanding color reproduction of OLED in this 2-in-1 make it hard to pass up.
Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook keyboard and touchpad
The Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook has the aforementioned fabric keyboard that magnetically snaps into place. Pogo pins on the bottom ensure a solid connection compared to a wireless solution and two small nubs help keep the keyboard locked in place.
While the keyboard is unbelievably thin and can’t offer much key travel as a result, it’s sturdier than I expected and allows for easy use on a desk or on my lap. Testing my speed using the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I managed 85 words per minute with 97% accuracy, just barely off my typical 86 wpm with 98% accuracy. That’s certainly far better than I fared with any of its competitors as it is a full-size keyboard.
The touchpad is large enough at 4.2 x 2.4-inches that I didn’t have any trouble navigating or using basic gestures. As is often the case with 2-in-1 laptops, I still rely on the touchscreen often, but that’s a personal preference and not a fault of the built-in touchpad. A dedicated mouse like the Logitech MX Anywhere 3 or MX Master 3 would certainly speed things up, but if you want the most portable package, you’ll be fine without one.
Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook audio
The Duet 5 features quad 1W speakers with two on each side to give a stereo audio experience. It’s not going to blow you away, but if you set your expectations properly, it’s a solid experience given the size constraints.
I listened to “2011” by 5 Seconds of Summer and it filled my medium-sized (12’ x 18’) testing room without distorting. With that said, there is virtually no bass response from these speakers. The lyrics and instrumentation sound crisp, but there’s no punch behind it, and more bass-heavy songs suffer as a result. If you are watching videos, or want a little ambient music, it’s fine, but for anything more intensive, you’ll want to pick up some wireless headphones.
Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook performance
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 in the Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook may draw some groans from those that have suffered through weak ARM-based Chromebooks in the past, but this one is different. Paired with 8GB of RAM, my review unit performed far better than many other ARM-based Chromebooks I’ve encountered previously.
I loaded about 24 Google Chrome tabs with two YouTube 1080p videos running simultaneously before spending some time working on this review Google Docs, which also involves jumping between tabs regularly. I didn’t see any slowdowns. Whether I was navigating with the touchpad or the touchscreen, I didn’t encounter any hiccups and Android apps were similarly responsive.
The Geekbench 5 overall performance test doesn’t offer quite as rosy a picture with an overall score of 1,727. That puts it ahead of its competition like the Detachable CM3 (1,412) and even the Chromebook X2 11 (1,691), which uses the same processor. It’s still well behind the Chromebook average of 2,204, but unless you want to install Linux on it and run more complex apps, I don’t think the performance is a concern.
The Jetstream 2 benchmark, which tests web-browsing performance, was again better than its competitors with a score of 70. That’s more than double the Detachable CM3 (33.2) and Chromebook Duet (31.9), and slightly ahead of the Chromebook X2 11 (63). However, it again fails to live up to the Chromebook average (109).
For typical Chromebook usage of web browsing, light productivity and content consumption, the Duet 5 is more than equal to the task. If you are looking for more, check out our best Chromebooks for some of the more powerful (and pricier) options like the Pixelbook Go.
Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook battery life
The battery life on the Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook may be enough to win some buyers over by itself. In our Laptop Mag battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the Duet 5 marathoned its way to 13 hours and 31 minutes on a single charge.
That crushes the current Chromebook average (9:03) and even outlasts its ARM-equipped competitors. The original Lenovo Chromebook Duet (12:46) comes the closest, while the Detachable CM3 (11:41) and Chromebook X2 11 (11:04) are left hours behind despite respectable scores of their own.
This is the Duet 5’s revenge for the average Chromebook taking it down in the previous section. Again, if you are a typical Chromebook user, this is probably a trade-off you are willing to make. You should easily make it through a couple of days, and perhaps more, on a single charge.
Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook cameras
The Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook includes two cameras, a 5MP front-facing camera and an 8MP rear camera. While you aren’t going to be taking family portraits with either of them, the front-facing camera delivers a crisp and reasonably noise-free image in well-lit environments for video calls.
Some may question the need for a rear camera on a Chromebook. It’s a great tool to have either for snapshots or as a scanner if you are using the Chromebook for school or work. Don’t expect to capture great low-light shots or anything like that, but it’s on par with a basic budget phone, which is more than you can say for most laptops.
While a dedicated external webcam will still provide the best results, this is a good option for most people.
Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook software and warranty
The Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook ships with Chrome OS installed. If you are currently a Chrome OS or Android user, this means that setup is dead simple. After you enter your Google account info all of your Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides files will be available along with your Chrome browser extensions and any Android apps. It also means no bloatware to clutter things up when you first launch the laptop.
On the subject of Android apps, the size of the Duet 5 makes it a little bit awkward for many Android apps, but support is improving. With Android 12L coming next year, there’s even more hope for greater developer attention to large-screen Android devices.
While you can see the DNA of the Chromebook Duet in the Duet 5, it’s an astounding transformation, more reminiscent of a Pokemon evolution than a natural generational upgrade.
Some of this is the larger size, which admittedly does make it less portable, but at 2.24 pounds, that’s only marginally true and well worth it if you watch videos or do any multitasking. The larger display also allows for a full-size keyboard, which is a night and day difference from the original Chromebook Duet’s Lilliputian keys.
The $499 price tag for my review unit is creeping into the upper echelon of Chromebook pricing, which, particularly given the Snapdragon processor, may have some balking, but the hardware justifies that cost. From the vivid OLED display to the over 13 hours of battery life, you won’t find a Windows 11 laptop that comes close for under $500.
As long as you are willing to live the Chrome OS life, and aren’t trying to run Linux on it, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 belongs on the shortlist for anyone in the market for a 2-in-1 Chromebook.
Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.