With the introduction of a few new ChromeOS tablets in the past year, it can be easy to get a little confused on which one to pick up if you are in the market for a detachable Chromebook. But the brutal truth at this point is the only Chromebook tablets worth considering come from Lenovo, and that means one of the toughest decisions for anyone reading this right now comes down to the differences present in the older Lenovo Chromebook Duet and the newer Duet 3. They look a lot alike and come with many of the same features; but don’t be fooled by the lower price of that older model. Instead, let me show you why in every way, you should really consider an upgrade to the newer Duet 3…even if it costs a bit more.
First, a quick note about the two most-recent Lenovo tablets on the market: the Duet 3 and Duet 5. Both are great devices that meet different needs, and we’ve fleshed those differences out in a video prior to this one. They have different strengths and weaknesses and though they are the only two Chromebook tablets I’d fully recommend here in the second half of 2022, there’s a pesky fly in the ointment that has consumers being pulled towards a third option that – in my honest opinion – doesn’t need to even be in consideration in most circumstances.
Well, there’s one caveat to that, but we’ll save it for the end. Outside of this single factor, there’s simply no reason for anyone to even remotely consider spending money on the original Duet. Don’t get me wrong: it was a fantastic device back in 2020 and it single-handedly did more for detachable Chromebooks than any device has to date. It brought together the parts you want in a tablet – like a great display, portable size, solid build, and a keyboard in the box – and kept the price (the MSRP price) in a range that made it such an easy purchase decision right as we rolled head-first into a pandemic. It handily got my kids through online, at-home school for sure, and I’d bet it did the same for some of you, too.
Better in every single way
But this is tech, and tech moves fast. As we head into the latter parts of 2022, the playing field has changed a bit, and the newer and better-in-every-way version of that beloved Duet has arrived. And it’s really fantastic! We talked about it in our review, but the story is pretty simple, here: if you loved what the original Duet brought to the table, the new one does all of that and more. And it does it all better!
I don’t have to meticulously go through every spec and hardware feature to make my point, but I’ll mention a few things that clearly make the Duet 3 a better tablet than its predecessor. First, the screen is a tad larger at 11-inches, giving you the same portable feel and a better workspace. The processor is far faster with the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2, making actual work much, much easier to get done. The keyboard is better spaced and more comfortable, the trackpad is larger with a better click, the kickstand back plate is thinner, the port selection is better, the external monitor support is better, the battery life is better…you get the idea.
In almost every single category, the new Duet 3 trumps the older version. I called it a perfect update in my review, and I still stand by that. Lenovo absolutely nailed every part of upgrading this device, addressing all of the concerns most people had with a $300 tablet. Is it perfect? Of course not, but it is pretty fantastic if you are looking for a 10-11-inch tablet and want ChromeOS running on it.
The price at the register
So why would anyone consider buying the older model? You know the answer before I say it, right? It comes down to price: and herein lies our caveat. As an older device, the original Duet can be discounted a bit more aggressively and that makes for some interesting decisions at the time of purchase. Right now, Best Buy has the original Duet at the full $299 MSRP and the new Duet 3 marked down $50 to $329. In no realm of reality should you consider the original Duet in this circumstance.
However, there have been a few times where the original Duet has dipped to half off, and that really muddies the waters a bit. It doesn’t happen all that often, but if the old Duet was $149 and the new Duet 3 wasn’t on sale and sitting at $379, the conversation shifts quite a bit. In this scenario, we need to ask: who will be using the tablet? What will its main use case be? Are you OK with its processor struggling, with typing being below average and really cramped, with the tablet/keyboard combo being a bit bulky? If you’re fine with all the trade-offs, go get your deal and enjoy the purchase.
But most times, we find these two devices within $100 of one another, and if you plan on keeping your new tablet around for a few years, you really have to ask yourself if saving $60, $70, or $80 is really worth the trade-offs you’re agreeing to in the moment. It would be different if we were just talking about a few upgrades here and there, but I’m telling you this new tablet is better in every single way versus the one that came before, and that’s not an exaggeration in the least.
Even when we discuss the two devices at MSRP, the difference in price is $80, and there’s no situation where I’d tell you to save $80 and pick up the older version. The upgrades are simply too numerous to overlook and you’d regret your decision a few months down the road.
My recommendation? Find a way to buy the newer Duet 3 if it is at all possible and if the older model isn’t on some sort of fire sale. You won’t regret it, I promise. The difference between the two isn’t iteration: it is near complete overhaul, and all for the better. We made this post and video to point out that specific fact and to make it very clear that although these tablets do bear a passing resemblance, they couldn’t be more different in actual use. If you plan on using either for an extended period of time and want to actually get productive at all with it, I can’t urge you enough to go for the Duet 3. You’ll thank me later.