Due to a few interesting circumstances this morning, I find myself working out and about. It’s a thing I used to do constantly and have always enjoyed, but as we’ve settled into our office space, I find myself doing less and less. I won’t get off track on this, but I do have to point out that at this very moment I’m wondering why exactly I don’t do this more often. There’s a freedom to feeling like you can work from anywhere that I’ve gravitated away from and, especially with Chromebooks, that’s a very cool perk I need to take advantage of far more frequently. If you can work from wherever, you should, too.
I figured this situation would be the perfect setup to spend some quality, real-world time with the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3. As I’m wrapping up my review on the excellent Acer Chromebook Spin 513, my next device to really evaluate will be this one under my palms, and because I made a few logistical errors, I find myself far from the office with nothing but the diminutive Chromebook Duet 3. With that in mind, I figured it was a good time to really put it through some paces: no external mouse, no extended display, no outlets around me, and a handful of tasks to accomplish.
One of the bigger moves from Lenovo with the Duet 3 was the change to an 11-inch screen. That’s a big change from a device that was 10.1-inches in the last version, and the change is a big help. While it doesn’t sound like a huge bump, the extra diagonal inch of screen real estate takes this from a super-cramped experience to one I’m feeling just fine about. I did knock the display scaling down one notch to fit a bit more info on screen, but that is the only thing I needed to adjust to feel like I’m sitting at a proper desktop.
Additionally, I chose to sit outside on this lovely morning and obviously wondered if I could make this work. If it was totally sunny outside, it would be a struggle, but with just a few light clouds in the sky, the display brightness is holding up just fine and I’m able to actually do some work without straining to see things on screen. I do have an extended 1080p USB Type C travel monitor in my bag that I left in the car, but I haven’t felt the need to reach for it so far. Not bad for a tiny tablet.
That 100% screen brightness surely comes at a cost, right? Yes, but not as much of one as you may think. At this point, I’m still looking at nearly 7 hours of screen time I’ll have on a full charge. That means I could sit here in daylight and plug away at work without stopping and still make it through the day. That’s wildly impressive for a device that is so small, pushing a very bright screen.
This isn’t too surprising, though, since this tablet is running the same Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 chip that is in the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5. That device has jaw-dropping battery life, so the only difference I expect between the two is the physical size of the battery inside. With the Duet 5’s bigger 13.3-inch form factor, I’d wager the battery is quite a bit bigger than the one in the Duet 3. Still, with the sort of workload I’m putting the Duet 3 through today, I’d imagine a regular setup with something more like 60% screen brightness would yield well over 10 hours on a charge. I’ll test that for the full review, but you can go ahead and count me as impressed thus far.
The keyboard cover
This is easily the most improved portion of the Duet 3 versus its predecessor. While still a tad smaller than a standard keyboard layout, the keys on this included keyboard cover are so great and so easy to type on. There’s a solid amount of travel, a very satisfying click, and I’ve blasted through a few emails and am writing this entire post with only the included keyboard. There are a few smaller keys in places you need to get used to, but I’m up and running with my normal typing speed already and I’ve only been using this setup for a little over an hour at this point.
The trackpad – while plastic – is performing well, too. It’s small, sure, but this is a small tablet. The click is good, multi-finger gestures are working perfectly, and my initial fear of having left my trusty Logitech Pebble mouse on my desk was unwarranted. This trackpad performs very well, and combined with this keyboard, I’ve been plenty productive this morning without need of a backpack full of accessories. It’s just me and my Duet 3, and it’s been pretty great.
The full review
I’m far from testing this tablet enough to talk about things like gaming, extending the display, leisure activities, or media consumption with the Duet 3. As I said, I’m in the early stages of really living with this device, but my early impressions from the unboxing were solid, and that is only continuing at this point. I’ve long wanted a ChromeOS tablet that I could use around the house and also use to get work done on a regular basis. For me, the Duet 5 is close to that dream, but the size of it makes me second guess things a bit. I’m eager to see how this smaller device performs as a tablet for the review and continue pushing this as a daily driver in the process. Stay tuned for that review: coming soon.