Chromebooks are laptops that use Google’s Chrome browser as the basis for their operating system. We’ve discussed them before but to date most of the models sold in Australia have tended to be low cost models pitched at the education market.
As a much more controlled computer there’s less that can go wrong with a Chromebook, although they can be a touch less flexible as a result. Still, a Chromebook is a basic laptop computer, right?
It doesn’t have to be so. I’ve recently spent some time testing out Lenovo’s clever new Duet Chromebook. It takes a distinctly different look at the way you might want to use such a device.
The heart of the Chromebook Duo is a 10.1 inch tablet. It’s entirely possible if you wish to use the Chromebook Duo just as a tablet device. Chromebooks support running Android apps, so you could just use it as an Android tablet.
However, it’s a bit more than that, because it also ships with a magnetically attached keyboard that includes its own trackpad.
This is rather similar in design as a result to Microsoft’s lower cost Surface Go 2 2-in-1 device. That’s definitely the kind of market that Lenovo’s targeting for this particular device.
The one downside there is that a 10.1 inch device isn’t going to accommodate a large keyboard as standard. You could always connect one up via Bluetooth or a USB C adaptor if you needed that. Still, the idea is to type on the Duet Chromebook’s smaller keyboard, which does take some getting used to.
It has a single input in the form of a USB C socket that’s used for charging and connecting external peripherals. If you do need external storage or to connect up other devices, investing in a simple USB C hub would be a good idea.
The Chromebook Duet runs off a MediaTek Helio P60T processor with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of fixed storage.
That’s quite a moderate laptop recipe, although for the kinds of tasks most laptops run it’s essentially adequate.
I’ve used the Chromebook Duet to create more than a few reviews during my test period using Google Docs without issue. Of course, as a device that can run any Chromebook or Android app, you can stretch it further than that.
You may want to look at external storage, however, because that 128GB of onboard memory can fill up fast if you want or need a lot of apps on board.
Of course, the reason to be keen on this kind of computing is for the portability, and here the Lenovo Duet Chromebook Duet impressed me.
Not only is it nicely small and light, but it’s also got quite a decent battery on board. Lenovo rates it as good for “up to” 10 hours of usage, but with a simple looping video test, I got more than 15 hours of life.
Naturally the apps you use and matters like volume, brightness and network usage could drain it a lot faster than that, but as a go-to portable device there’s a lot to like about the Lenovo Chromebook Duet.
The one drawback is that you’re not playing in that super-cheap typical Chromebook space. Pricing online varies a little, but the Lenovo Duet Chromebook typically retails in Australia for around $599. That’s cheaper than the comparable Surface Go, or indeed an Apple iPad and one of its additionally priced keyboard folios, but still higher than you could pay for a simple laptop.