Now this is a sequel I can get very, very excited about! As what I would call the best overall ChromeOS tablet you can purchase right now, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 absolutely deserves a sequel like we saw in the Duet 3 (upgraded from the original 10-inch Duet). The Duet 5 gets so many parts of the Chromebook tablet equation right, is frequently on sale, and has a real potential to be a device that is excellent at both work and play. We said as much in our original review, and I’d stand by those same thoughts to this day.
Lenovo’s Duet upgrade history is solid
With the original 10-inch Duet, there were clearly issues and setbacks, but that device was popular for good reason: it struck a balance between solid build quality, uniqueness, and price. All the parts that the original Duet got right, the follow-up held onto and only improved upon across the board. With a better screen, a vastly-improved keyboard/trackpad in the cover, a far-slimmer kickstand, and a decently-fast processor, the Duet 3 was as good of a sequel as you get in the tech industry. Lenovo really did a great job at improving things that needed it.
For the Duet 5, many of the pieces are already in place for a great tablet experience. The OLED screen is delightful, the quad speakers are solid, and the form factor is the right size for both work and consumption, and the feel of the device is fantastic. For a sequel, a better processor, an improved keyboard/trackpad, and a bit of improvement on the speakers would go a long way towards making this new version the absolute best ChromeOS tablet ever. And while most of that list is just something that lives in my imagination right now, the first part – a faster, better processor – looks to be on the horizon for sure.
It’s all about the screen
Before I dive into why I feel pretty certain a sequel is on the way, a quick reminder is in order regarding one development board we’ve been tracking for a few weeks now. ‘Geralt’ is the main board based on the still-unreleased MediaTek MT8188 that hopefully a few new Chromebook tablets will spawn from, starting with ‘Whiteorchard’. The MT8188 included in this board will slot itself in the Kompanio 1000 lineup and should be a very fast ARM SoC with fantastic battery life to boot.
As these things tend to go, a lot of work will go into getting things ready on the main development board (‘Geralt’) and the individual devices set to be manufactured will be added later with small tweaks and changes relative to the OEM building it. Along the way, however, ‘Geralt’ can be tested with a variety of the larger hardware pieces to get the ball rolling for individual devices if need be, and that’s what we’ve found for you today. Just yesterday, the following change was submitted to the Chromium Gerrit for ‘Geralt’:
Looking up this panel that is being tested for ‘Geralt’ – the Samsung ATNA33XC20 – I found details that sounded quite familiar. This panel is OLED, 1920×1080, and 13.3-inches in measure. Sound familiar? It should, because those are the exact same specs we see in the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5. But those details could be coincidences, right? After all, 13.3-inch 1080p displays aren’t that unique. So I dug around a bit more and found this nugget from August of 2021:
Again, we’re looking at the same Samsung ATNA33XC20 panel, but for a different device: ‘Homestar’. Those of you who keep up with such things already see where this is going, but for those of you that aren’t crazy like me and don’t keep up with development board names, I’ll clue you in: ‘Homestar’ is the code name for none other than the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5.
So, putting things together, we now have ‘Geralt’ – a detachable Chromebook equipped with a fast, capable ARM processor – being tested with the exact same panel that the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 possesses. While this could still just be a testing move, it is far more likely that Lenovo is getting things in order to deliver one of the more-exciting sequels we’ve ever had in the ChromeOS space.
And it is at this point I will at least throw in a bit of caution and caveat. The commit is clearly just for testing and it could end up that this test is nothing more than that. While I don’t believe that to be the case at all, I also feel 100% confident that ‘Geralt’ won’t be an actual device, so anything tested on it can begin and end as simply a test and nothing more. The likelihood of that scenario is low, but it is a possibility worth noting.
However, when we see hardware being tested on a baseboard, it usually is done for a reason. In this case, it feels pretty certain that Lenovo is readying a follow-up to the excellent Chromebook Duet 5, and I couldn’t be happier to see it. If they do the same as they did with the Duet 3, I think we’re in for something quite special with this new Duet 5, and it could finally be the ChromeOS tablet that I’ve been waiting years for. As always, we’ll be continuing to monitor this one moving forward. Stay tuned.