As time moves forward and we get farther and farther from the events of CES 2020 nearly three months ago now, it becomes easy to forget or simply mis-remember things that were so exciting at the time. For instance, just a month ago I could remember quite clearly how enamored I was in my time with the very excellent Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook. If I think about it hard enough, I can remember how excited I was about its announcement and how excited I was to know that it would be coming in just months from that show in Vegas.
Fast forward to today, and though I know it is on the way pretty soon (May is the release window), it is easy to forget about that and get wrapped up in the things going on right in front of my face. For a few weeks now, the upcoming devices of 2020 have begun to feel a bit like vaporware even though I know that isn’t the case. I know these devices are on the way, but I really needed a spark to get me excited about them again. That spark came for me in the form of the ASUS Flip C436 showing up on Tuesday, and with it all the memories of what we saw out at CES 2020 a few months ago.
You see, a few weeks ago I was tempted by the new pricing structure on the Pixel Slate. At $499 as a starting price for the very capable Core m3 version, there was part of me that considered getting one for myself. We have one here in the office, but I was really considering one for the house. With all the new and upcoming changes to tablet mode for Chrome OS, I’m very excited about a Chromebook I can really leverage as a tablet. I even took to the Slate in the office for a few days to see what I really thought of trying out a tablet again.
And, yet again, I found that a tablet of that size just isn’t right for me. I’ve been told by many readers, viewers, and listeners that I’m wrong to feel this way, but I still think the Slate is too large and heavy to be a good tablet. And, with the folio style keyboard, it is only a decent laptop. It feels like a compromised experience on both ends: not great at anything and, by extension, only mediocre at everything.
Yet, I still want a Chrome OS tablet. I want one for reading, for watching videos, for running down to the coffee shop (once I can again), for weekend getaways: I want a consumption device I can get some work done on when I need to. And that is why I’m holding off on buying a tablet for now. With the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet just weeks away, I’m continuing to just wait it out. I’ve learned I’m not against having a tablet in my daily workflow; I’m just against having a tablet around that isn’t good at being a tablet first.
I think the IdeaPad Duet will be good at being a tablet, and I think there’s a real chance it will be the first Chrome OS tablet that pulls it off, too. Tablets that have come before it were too cheap feeling, too slow, too clunky, or too expensive. The Duet nails size, weight, speed, screen, and build quality while giving you an insane value (keyboard included starting at $279 for the whole thing) and quite possibly the most versatile experience possible.
This tablet will be small enough to read with on the couch or in bed but fast enough to dock at the office with an external monitor, keyboard and mouse to do a full day’s work. That has simply never been the case with a tablet running Chrome OS up to this point. So, if you want a larger tablet with great speakers, fast internals, a great screen, go get a Pixel Slate. The price is honestly insane for that hardware. For me, I’m waiting on what I feel will be a better overall tablet experience at a fraction of the cost. While I could end up eating my words, I tend to feel like this tablet will start something new and important in the Chromebook world, and I’m ready to wait for it.