Nowadays, I have been struggling to discover a stable sub-$400 laptop computer to advocate to price-constrained consumers that I truly discover, nicely, usable. So I have been pinning quite a lot 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 storageis $369 (the subsequent most costly choice is $379 at Finest Purchase, with 128GB of storage — I would in all probability go for that one for $10 additional). The waterproof removable keyboard is included in that low worth. However typically, gadgets that appear like nice offers on paper prove to suck while you truly 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 machine for leisure and leisure. And whereas it isn’t fairly as high-tech because the bigger OLED-equipped Duet 5, I believe it will be a extra sensible purchase for the scholar and casual-user class. I would relatively be on this than an inexpensive Home windows laptop computer any day.
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 quite a lot of quick typing, fast scrolling, and hopping forwards and backwards between an entire bunch of Chrome tabs and paperwork with Slack and Spotify operating over prime. I plugged a mouse in for this half however did not use a monitor—all the pieces was crammed onto the 11-inch display.
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 have to be squeezed in so as to obtain their compact dimension.
However this keyboard wasn’t cramped within the least. The keys had nice journey and a cushty 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 can also be an actual standout. It is so brilliant that even 50 % was beginning to damage my eyes. Our workplace can also be pretty brilliant, however at 30-40 % brightness, I noticed virtually no obstructive glare. Colours are brilliant and vivid — I would watch a film on this machine over every kind of costlier laptops.
Battery life was not wonderful however acceptable for this worth. 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, nevertheless. I might wager that you simply may get nearer to 9 with a Chrome-only workload.
That mentioned, whereas I used to be in a position to efficiently use this for a piece day, anybody contemplating shopping for it as a main work machine ought to concentrate on its limitations. My workload was primarily cramped by the 11-inch display. In an effort to use two home windows aspect by aspect (which I typically do), I used to be usually zooming out to round 50 % so as to see all the pieces I wanted to.
I might additionally really feel the processor (the identical Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 that powers the Duet 5) chugging a bit beneath this workload. It might deal with Chrome simply wonderful, 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 bother with Zoom calls. The PWA crashed the primary few occasions I attempted to affix a digital briefing, and even once I was within the name, the shared display took some time to load, and different apps had been a bit sluggish within the background.
And the Duet additionally solely has two ports — one USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 on either side. This is not uncommon for the pill type issue (or skinny and light-weight laptops usually), and it is good that there is one on either side. Nonetheless, it did imply that I could not plug each my mouse and separate keyboard into the machine whereas it was additionally plugged into energy. (No headphone jack, both, so your wi-fi headphones must do.)
This machine is simply 2.09 kilos with the keyboard and canopy hooked up, and carrying it round felt very very like carrying a small pill. It match simply in my purse — no backpack wanted. The compact dimension 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 machine would’ve been a ache on this state of affairs, however I might squeeze the Duet proper in.
And for the actions my mates and I had been doing that evening — 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 had been icing on the cake.
To begin utilizing the Chromebook Duet 3, you will have to comply with the next:
You can even say sure or no to the next:
- Mechanically ship Chrome OS diagnostic and utilization information to Google
That is one obligatory settlement and one non-obligatory settlement to make use of the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3.
All in all, I discover the Duet a wonderful funds buy, offered that you realize your wants. It isn’t for you in the event you want a piece machine for heavy analysis and quick multitasking or if you could plug quite a lot of issues in (together with wired headphones — there is not any headphone jack). Whereas there are different removable Home windows laptops and Chromebooks on the market, you will be unlikely to seek out this mixture of display, type, portability, and efficiency anyplace else beneath $400.
For those who like this bundle however want an even bigger display, the $500 Duet 5 provides a really related 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 offers the identical processor and a comparable construct for a lower cost. For those who’re on the lookout for a conveyable funds machine for homework, video watching, espresso store searching, or what have you ever, the Duet 3 must be in your checklist.
Pictures by Monica Chin / The Verge