There’s no denying the impact Lenovo had on the Chromebook world back in 2020 at CES when they unveiled the original Chromebook Duet. The small, well-made tablet brought all the right stuff to the table for the right price and even to this day it sells very well. We have two of those Chromebook tablets in my house right now that still get regular use and served us very, very well in the earlier days of the pandemic. With a bright IPS screen, an attractive build quality, decent performance and the keyboard bundled in the box, Lenovo made the right choices on where to keep and where to cut with the original Duet.
Here in 2022, the company is back with an upgrade to the original, winning formula for the Chromebook Duet, and from what we can tell at this point, they’ve only improved things. We’re looking at a better screen size, a better keyboard, better speakers, a faster processor, and far improved overall build quality. Though the device we have in hand is technically pre-production, we can all already tell that Lenovo has put together a much-improved package in this new Duet.
Right off the bat, it is clear that Lenovo learned a thing or two from the first Duet and from the follow-up Duet 5. Gone is the chunky back plate from the original Duet and in its place is a thin, light, and sturdy kickstand that looks and feels far more like the one we get on the Duet 5. It grabs onto the back of the tablet with authority and when left on, doesn’t take up a lot of space. With the original Duet, I always took the back panel off because it was so thick. Not really necessary this time around.
The keyboard cover is about the same thickness as it was on the original, but the magnets are so much better. When the whole thing is closed up, magnets hold everything tightly together and make the unit feel completely cohesive. Gone are the days of the sliding keyboard cover that moved all over the place as you carried around your tablet. Now, when closed up, the Duet 3 feels solid and sturdy all around.
We have to talk about the actual tablet, too. Like its predecessor, the body is mostly glass and aluminum, and it feels sturdy while also maintaining a lightness in the hands. There are no sharp edges or creaks in the chassis and, yet again, Lenovo has managed to pull off a high-end tablet feel for a lower-end budget. Thankfully, they left the two-toned color on the back and just like the original, it looks great. Also, Lenovo chose to slightly round the corners on the display, and though it is a small touch, it gives the Duet 3 a feeling of refinement we generally don’t see in this price range.
Getting work done
One of the ways the original Duet fell short was in getting work done. Sure, it was fine for dabbling around with content consumption, but it was not a great experience as a productivity machine. That is simply not the case with the Duet 3 as the slightly-larger 11-inch 16:10 screen makes getting stuff done a lot easier while making more room for a better keyboard. Seriously, the increased key travel and extra space make typing on this tablet a very nice experience. I typed an entire article on it with no issues at all and came away really impressed.
Though the trackpad underneath is still small, it is smooth and has a fantastic click to it. With those input methods and this vibrant screen, all I need is decent performance to get some work done, and the Duet 3 doesn’t disappoint. While not the fastest Chromebook in the world, the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 does quite well on Chrome OS (as we saw with the Duet 5) and getting all my tasks done was a snap on this Chromebook. As an additional benefit, I’d imagine battery life will be standout as well. There’s nothing even close to the Lenovo Duet 5 in that category, and I’d expect the Duet 3 with the same Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 to perform equally well.
Other niceties include 8GB of RAM as an option, storage choices from 64GB to 128GB to 256GB, a 5MP selfie and 8MP rear camera, USI stylus compatibility, and two USB Type C ports this time around. With this processor, you can push an external QHD display, too, so docking and working on the go is definitely a possibility with this Chromebook.
Our device is a pre-production unit, so we’ll be sending it back to Lenovo soon, but we’re looking very forward to the May launch date on this tablet. With the starting price of $399 (configuration not specified at that price) and an AUE of June 2029, we’re really excited for this Chromebook to hit the market. It feels like Lenovo has done it again and the Duet 3 could hit the ground running as the best overall tablet you can buy with Chrome OS on board. A full review period with final hardware is clearly needed, but color me impressed with this one. As it stands right now, Lenovo is in a league of their own with Chrome OS tablets.