Lenovo brought an interesting device to CES 2020 in the form of a new 10.1-inch Chrome OS tablet. If I’m honest, my first inclination was to expect a sub-par, plastic, flimsy tablet with a mediocre screen and questionable performance. After all, Chromebook tablets have been pretty bad up to this point, choosing to cut nearly every corner with bad build quality and poor performance or going in the other direction and trying to be everything to everyone in the devices like the Pixel Slate.
Neither of those attempts have worked however, and most people have fully written off the Chrome OS tablet. I’ve long held the opinion that if we were to get the right combo of decent build quality, performance, and usable size that we’d have a great device in a Chrome OS tablet. It could be a consumption device when you need it and a full desktop when necessary as well. Up to this point, however, the swings made by a handful of manufacturers have all been a miss.
Lenovo has shown up at this peculiar moment in the Chrome OS story when perhaps all hope for an enjoyable tablet experience on Chrome OS has begun to feel like something just out of reach. Into this point we now get the Chromebook Duet, a light, sleek, well-built tablet that actually feels like a device I could actually see myself using on a daily basis.
I’ve said for quite some time that I don’t really like big tablets like the iPad Pro or Pixel Slate because they are too big to actually be an enjoyable tablet experience. 8-inch tablets are too small in most ways and are basically supplanted by our ever-growing smartphones. But 10-inch tablets, when made the right way, are still quite enjoyable for a lot of things. Reading, web browsing, light gaming and watching video are all things I truly like a bit better on a tablet than any other form factor, but deep down, I really want a tablet I can be entertained with and still get out my keyboard and mouse and get some things done.
Lenovo has delivered just that tablet, and I really love this little guy. At 10.1-inches, with a 1920×1200 resolution (16:10) and 400 nits of brightness, this tablet has the display portion nailed. Add to that a decently-fast MediaTek Helio P60T ARM processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage and you have a tablet that can shine both as a consumption and production device. The reasonable bezels, striking 2-tone aesthetic, thin form factor and very light overall weight (0.99 pounds) make a package that feels as good in the hand as any tablet I’ve ever held. I just kept picking it up and trying new things because it simply felt great to hold.
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Then you get to the other excellent part of this tablet in the included keyboard and kickstand that attach with magnets and pogo pins with no need for clumsy pairing operations. At a total price of $279, it is crazy that the Lenovo Chromebook Duet will ship with these accessories if you ask me. Even if you only valued the keyboard at $79, that means you’d be getting this tablet for $200 and that is flat-out crazy.
The keyboard is solid if a bit cramped and the trackpad is smooth and clicky, making navigation in desktop mode a true breeze. The magnetically attached kickstand also allows users to adjust the screen angle to just about any angle they would like as well. Oh, and this tablet also supports USI (universal stylus initiative) pens, so as more of these styluses hit the market in the coming months, you’ll be able to simply pick the one you like most and get it.
Overall, Lenovo has absolutely delivered a stellar tablet/laptop experience with the Chromebook Duet. Sure, I’d like to see a fingerprint scanner included and I’m excited about tablets like this in the future with even better ARM chips than this, but this all just proves that ‘Kukui’ (the baseboard this device is built upon) tablets are going to be what breathe life back into the idea of a Chrome OS tablets again. Lenovo expects to begin shipping the Chromebook Duet by May, so we won’t have too long to wait for the official release of the first of many new Chrome OS tablets.