It’s been a bit of a wait, but we finally have ASUS’ new tablet here in the office. Since it’s been around for quite some time, there’s little surprise, here. This is a 10.5-inch tablet/detachable Chromebook that offers a similar array of hardware that we’ve had in this space since early 2020 in the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. The ASUS promises a bit more quality in the design, adds in a stowed USI pen, and has a little trick up its sleeve with the kickstand, but the idea is the same.
Inside, we have a MediaTek MT8183 processor inside paired up with 4GB of RAM and either 64GB or 128GB of eMMC storage. This should all sound familiar as it is the same stuff we have in the Lenovo Chromebook Duet and have had for well over a year at this point. All that being said, there are some differences, and they are worth talking about.
First up is the most noticeable: the wild kickstand. When this Chromebook was first leaked, I thought the images were bad Photoshop jobs. Seeing a tablet stood up in a portrait orientation just looks fake, but it is 100% possible with this 2-way hinge on the ASUS CM3. For a handful of applications, this could be a very useful feature.
Second, the internally-stowed, recharging USI pen is a very nice addition for a device with this form factor. As I use this tablet a bit, my guess would be that this pen will come in very handy. As a matter of fact, we needed to sign an NDA PDF just this morning to send back to a hardware manufacturer and it was so handy to have the pen there and ready for me when I needed it.
Third, the screen is a bit different from the Duet. Instead of 10.1 inches, this one is 10.5 inches and instead of 400 nits like we had on the Duet, this one is only 320 nits of brightness. Both are 1920×1200 (16:10), so there’s definitely some familiarity with the overall form factor, here, but I really prefer the brightness on offer with the Duet over this CM3. With that said, however, the initial look at this panel still feels nice. Colors look good, viewing angles are wide, and I’d assume most users won’t feel that 320 nits is too low for most real world conditions.
As a part of that larger screen, we get a bit more room for a larger detachable keyboard, too. The keys feel larger and more spaced than the Duet and though I still wouldn’t want to work on this keyboard all day, it feels like it has decent travel and attaches to the base of the screen for added stability. The trackpad is also wide with a nice click, so the detachable portion of this tablet is pretty well done from what I can tell so far.
Finally, the build quality it a bit more solid and the look is more mature than what we see on the Duet. The charcoal colors and fabric outer parts look more business-oriented, but the edges and lines feel a bit sharp to the touch. Though it looks a bit more grown up on the desk, I like the in-the-hand feel of the Duet better.
I’ll be spending more time with this tablet in the coming weeks and we’ll put together a review after I’ve had a bit of time with it, but I’m not expecting too many surprises at this point. With its $369 starting price (for the 64GB model), there are some things to consider when looking at this Chromebook. If a more-mature aesthetic, included/stowable pen, slightly larger screen/keyboard, and a multi-flex kickstand sound like good upgrades to you over what we have in the Lenovo Duet, then maybe this is a decent buy. After I’ve spent more time with it, I’ll let you know.