Back at CES 2020 — January was just a different world, wasn’t it? — I was able to spend some time with one of the most exciting Chrome OS products in years, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet. Now, a few months later, that product is officially launching for $279. Is it any good? We’ll have a review soon, but here are a few first impressions after a weekend with the product.
First things first, what is the IdeaPad Duet? Put simply, this is one of the first Chrome OS tablets that is at all exciting. It’s priced right, offers a good package under the hood, and doesn’t upcharge for accessories. Basically, it’s the opposite of Google’s disappointing Pixel Slate that literally saw the company shutter any plans of a future tablet.
The burning questions on my mind for the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet since I first got to try it out have been these: is the performance good enough for a laptop and is Chrome OS good enough for a tablet? Again, we’ll answer those more in-depth in the full review, but after three days I have a few early thoughts, starting with its performance.
Running on a MediaTek chipset and 4GB of RAM, the IdeaPad Duet was never meant to be a powerhouse or workhorse. That does show if you intend to use it for any work. Most of my workday consists of using WordPress, Slack, and running tabs with emails or articles. The IdeaPad Duet holds up… alright.
Look it’s not great. Lag isn’t uncommon and I’ve have the machine freeze up a few times, but I’m definitely using it for more than it’s designed to handle. If you’re buying this tablet to do a bit of web-surfing, handle email, or using tools like Google Drive/Docs, it will be fine. Just don’t think it can absolutely be your main machine. Wait for something a bit more capable.
The keyboard was one area of concern in my initial hands-on, but after hours of use, it feels pretty alright.
How’s the tablet experience? It’s pretty good! Actually, it’s surprisingly good. The last time I tried to use Chrome OS as a tablet on the Pixel Slate it felt messy and very unfinished. In mid-2020, Google still has a ton of room for improvement, but things are definitely getting better.
The new gestures on Chrome OS make navigation feel a bit more natural on the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet and other optimizations — like the new tablet UI for Chrome we’ve detailed in another article — make this a very usable experience.
Unfortunately, the general jankiness of Chrome OS’ tablet mode is still very present and takes away a bit from Lenovo’s excellent hardware. The “homescreen” app drawer feels like it’s in a constant state of lag and Android apps feel mostly the same. As an iPad user for my personal tablet, it’s a jarring experience, but one I can still use. Again, we’ll detail that more in a full review and, most likely, I’ll have some other opinions to share about Google’s contribution to the issue here.
Long story short? The IdeaPad Duet seems pretty good! Three days, though, is just not enough time to form enough opinions and thoughts on this device for a full review. In the next week or so, we’ll be publishing more on the Duet including thoughts about the battery life, keyboard, stylus integration, and more. Stay tuned!
More on Chrome OS:
- Hands on: Lenovo IdeaPad Duet finally gives Chrome OS the tablet it needs
- Google abandons two in-development tablets, will focus solely on laptops going forward
- Chrome OS is getting a revamped photo viewer and editor app [Gallery]
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