As of late, I’ve been struggling to discover a strong sub-$400 laptop computer to suggest to price-constrained consumers that I really discover, nicely, usable. So I’ve been pinning lots of my hope on Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet 3, a tiny 11-inch Chromebook with a removable keyboard and a foldable kickstand. I used to be an enormous fan of the unique Duet that was launched in 2020, a speedy 10.1-incher with exceptionally lengthy battery life.
The mannequin I’ve, with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, is $369 (the following costliest choice is $379 at Finest Purchase, with 128GB of storage — I’d most likely go for that one for $10 further). The water resistant removable keyboard is included in that low value. However typically, gadgets that seem like nice offers on paper prove to suck while you really flip them on.
So I used the Chromebook Duet 3 for a full day, morning to nighttime. Whereas not fairly as much as a full distant workload, it was an ideal system for leisure and leisure. And whereas it’s not fairly as high-tech because the bigger OLED-equipped Duet 5, I feel it’ll be a extra sensible purchase for the scholar and casual-user class. I’d fairly be on this than an inexpensive Home windows laptop computer any day.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3
Glorious sharp screenLight and transportable kind factorSurprisingly nice removable keyboardPerform nicely for fundamental duties
Solely two ports (and no headphone jack)Skinny audioStylus not included
I first used the Duet 3 at my desk in The Verge’s Manhattan workplace. I needed to write a fast information story, which concerned lots of quick typing, fast scrolling, and hopping backwards and forwards between a complete bunch of Chrome tabs and paperwork with Slack and Spotify working over high. I plugged a mouse in for this half however didn’t use a monitor — every little thing was crammed onto the 11-inch display screen.
The very first thing I seen was that the Duet’s keyboard is nice. I typically dread utilizing removable keyboards as a result of keys (notably these on the outskirts, like Backspace and Tab) typically should be squeezed in in an effort to obtain their compact measurement.
However this keyboard wasn’t cramped within the least. The keys had nice journey and a snug texture. The scale of the Backspace and Shift keys made me nervous once I noticed them, however I hit them each time I wanted to. Lenovo actually nailed the keyboard on this one, and I may very well miss typing on it.
The Duet 3’s display screen can be an actual standout. It’s so vivid that even 50 p.c was beginning to damage my eyes. Our workplace can be pretty vivid, however at 30–40 p.c brightness, I noticed nearly no obstructive glare. Colours are vivid and vivid — I’d watch a film on this system over all types of costlier laptops.
Battery life was not superb however acceptable for this value. I needed to plug the Duet at about six and a half hours in. It was draining a lot quicker once I had a number of apps open than once I was simply in Chrome, nonetheless. I might wager that you just would possibly get nearer to 9 with a Chrome-only workload.
That mentioned, whereas I used to be in a position to make use of efficiently use this for a piece day, anybody contemplating shopping for it as a main work system ought to pay attention to its limitations. My workload was primarily cramped by the 11-inch display screen. With a view to use two home windows aspect by aspect (which I typically do), I used to be typically zooming out to round 50 p.c in an effort to see every little thing I wanted to.
I might additionally really feel the processor (the identical Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 that powers the Duet 5) chugging a bit below this workload. It might deal with Chrome simply nice, however as soon as I had 5 to 6 totally different apps open and was making an attempt to swap between them in a short time, I might really feel myself getting a bit impatient. It particularly had hassle with Zoom calls. The PWA crashed the primary few occasions I attempted to hitch a digital briefing, and even once I was within the name, the shared display screen took some time to load, and different apps have been a bit sluggish within the background.
And the Duet additionally solely has two ports — one USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 on all sides. This isn’t uncommon for the pill kind issue (or skinny and light-weight laptops on the whole), and it’s good that there’s one on all sides. Nevertheless, it did imply that I couldn’t plug each my mouse and separate keyboard into the system whereas it was additionally plugged into energy. (No headphone jack, both, so your wi-fi headphones should do.)
With all that mentioned — as quickly as I left the workplace, these complaints all turned non-issues. My night exercise was a espresso store dangle with pals, and this was precisely the system I wanted for that.
This system is simply 2.09 kilos with the keyboard and canopy hooked up, and carrying it round felt very very similar to carrying a small pill. It match simply in my purse — no backpack wanted. The compact measurement was excellent for the cafe desk as nicely, the place I wanted to suit my drink and croissant in addition to my pc. Any bigger system would’ve been a ache on this state of affairs, however I might squeeze the Duet proper in.
Right here I used to be utilizing the touchpad, which has a surprisingly deep and satisfying click on for a removable deck. I didn’t really feel cramped once I scrolled or navigated with gestures (although folks with bigger fingers would possibly). And it did a good job of rejecting my fingerprints, remaining fairly easy on the finish of the day.
And for the actions my pals and I have been doing that night time — watching movies, studying articles, and modifying Google Docs, with out the frantic rush of the workplace workday — the Duet was snappy, with no slowdown in sight. The sturdy keyboard and wonderful display screen have been icing on the cake.
Comply with Proceed: Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3
To begin utilizing the Chromebook Duet 3, you’ll must comply with the next:
It’s also possible to say sure or no to the next:
That’s one necessary settlement and one elective settlement to make use of the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3.
All in all, I discover the Duet a superb finances buy, supplied that you already know your wants. It’s not for you if you happen to want a piece system for heavy analysis and quick multitasking or if you must plug lots of issues in (together with wired headphones — there’s no headphone jack). Whereas there are different removable Home windows laptops and Chromebooks on the market, you’ll be unlikely to seek out this mix of display screen, model, portability, and efficiency wherever else below $400.
In case you like this bundle however want a much bigger display screen, the $500 Duet 5 presents a really comparable bundle in a 13-inch chassis (and with an OLED panel, extra RAM, and extra storage). For anybody else who could make do with the compact 11-incher, the Duet 3 supplies the identical processor and a comparable construct for a lower cost. In case you’re on the lookout for a conveyable finances system for homework, video watching, espresso store searching, or what have you ever, the Duet 3 needs to be in your listing.
Pictures by Monica Chin / The Verge