The Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Duet 3 ($359 starting price) is now available, and there are lots of reasons to be thrilled about this Chrome tablet. This is essentially a larger, more costly version of the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, a surprisingly powerful and affordable Chrome tablet announced by Lenovo in 2020. The original Duet because of its long battery life, strong performance, and decent built-in keyboard cover.
Lenovo’s new Duet 3 is somewhat more expensive, but it has a larger, brighter display, additional connections, and the power of a new Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 CPU. After studying it for a few weeks, despite a few flaws, this is a suitable successor to the Duet, which is one of the finest Chromebooks for kids and, in fact, one of the finest Chromebooks period.
What will you see here?
Price and availability
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3 Chromebook is slated to be released later this month (May 2022), and when it is, it will be available for purchase on Lenovo’s website as well as in certain third-party stores. In the United States, you can acquire a Duet 3 for as little as $359 for a variant with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. You can get one of the same RAM but double the storage, up to 128GB, for $379.
Because it’s a prerelease item supplied to us early for evaluation, it has an unusual combination of 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. This precise configuration is not available with maximum RAM and minimum memory, although it looks to be identical to a release model in every other way. Lenovo has told us that devices with 8GB of RAM will be available in some European markets (including Spain, Germany, and France) later this month, but it’s unclear when or if machines with 8GB of RAM will be available in the United States.
The Duet 3 Chromebook resembles the original Duet Chromebook introduced by Lenovo in 2020. Duet 3 is a bit bigger, with an 11-inch 2K (2,000 by 1,200 pixel) screen contained in a slender black aluminum frame. The Duet 3 measures 10.16 x 6.48 x 0.31 inches and weighs 1.14 pounds. It’s not quite as light or thin as the basic iPad 2021 (0.29 inches, 1.09 pounds), but it’s close, and in my hands, it seems both solid and light enough to tote about the home all day.
Lenovo kept the Duet’s detachable keyboard and cover, which feature a beautiful thick-woven fabric texture that feels excellent in the hand. The new Duet 3 includes a detachable keyboard and rear cover, similar to the Duet, that must be attached individually, however, each is a magnet to assist it to glide smoothly into position.
The keyboard cover is solid to type on, and the magnets are powerful such that if you can move the keyboard cover’s attach point within an inch or so of the proper connector on the tablet, the two devices clasp together with frightening speed and strength.
The rear cover likewise snaps on fast and effortlessly, with an added bonus that isn’t immediately apparent: the lower portion can be pulled out to act as an excellent kickstand. Unfortunately, slipping a finger under the kickstand flap and stretching it out might be difficult.
The Duet 3 boasts a larger, brighter screen with a greater resolution than the original Duet. Lenovo promises up to 400 nits of brightness.
On being Klein K10-A colorimeter to measure the brightness of the Duet 3’s display, it attained a providing a strong of 434.4 nits, reaching as high as 466 nits in the middle of the screen. This is brighter than the original Duet’s average brightness of 372 nits, and brighter than Android tablets like the Lenovo Yoga Tab 13 (390 nits), although it still falls short of the brightness of the iPad 2021. (472 nits).
The Duet 3’s display achieved 108.4 percent of the sRGB color range and 76.8 percent of the DCI-P3 color gamut in terms of color accuracy (100 percent is the most accurate). These figures are normally only relevant to serious photo/video editors, although they may be used to assess the Duet 3’s display.
The display on the Duet 3 is bright and vibrant. It’s not as bright or colorful as some of the greatest OLED displays on laptops and tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra ($1,099 to begin), but it’s more than adequate for this $400 Chrome tablet.
Lenovo has increased the Duet 3’s port choices by including a pair of USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 connectors, one on each side of the tablet when carried in landscape position.
That’s an improvement over the original Duet’s meager single USB-C connector, and because the Duet 3 still charges through USB-C, you can now choose which side of the tablet to power. And, because either connection can drive an external display, it’s simple to connect the Duet 3 to a monitor for increased efficiency at a desk.
Worse, the Duet 3 still lacks a headphone jack, which was terribly lacking in the original Duet. The Duet and Duet 3 are clearly designed to be multipurpose microcomputers, and the original Duet managed to prove very popular among parents during the COVID-19 pandemic as a cheap Chromebook that could be used for open and distance learning, so it was a huge disappointment that you can’t plug in a pair of cheap earbuds. As it is, if you want to conduct any private listening (or Zoom calls) on the Duet, you’ll need to invest in one of the best wireless earphones or best wireless headphones.
The Duet 3’s built-in 1W speakers allow it to blast music at a fair volume. While there isn’t much bass or depth to the music, the Duet 3 is remarkably loud for a Chrome tablet. It is, nevertheless, wonderfully silent. This is rarely an issue, but it does seem unusual to have to turn up the volume several notches above the lowest level in order to hear anything.
Keyboard and touchpad
The Lenovo Duet 3’s detachable keyboard is surprisingly nice, with keys that feel enjoyable to text on despite their limited travel. The keyboard itself seems tight and awkward in my large hands, but that’s to be expected from a detachable keyboard for an 11-inch tablet.
The keyboard on the Duet 3 is decent enough that I’d compose emails, blog entries, and even entire term papers on it, making this Chrome tablet a superb productivity gadget in a hurry. One more caveat: the detachable keyboard isn’t very thick or substantial. So for serious typing sessions, you’ll want to use it on a firm surface like a desk or table. Still, the fact that this keyboard is so fantastic for its size. Also that Lenovo includes it at no extra cost, which contributes to the Duet 3 being a terrific bargain.
The keyboard’s touchpad is as functional. Also, it comes in useful when you don’t want to risk scratching the screen by, say, reaching out a Cheeto-stained finger to increase the volume.
Duet doesn’t precisely drain the battery. You never have to worry about it running out of battery during the day, and when you put it in, it could recharge to approximately 80% in an hour.
The Duet 3 lasts an average of 10 hours and 30 minutes on the battery. This requires the tablet to continually surf the web over Wi-Fi with its display set to 150 nits of brightness. That’s fairly decent for a tablet, though it’s not surprising considering the device’s low power.
However, it falls short of the 11+ hour runtimes achieved by tablets such as the Microsoft Surface Go 2 (11:38), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 (12:52), and the standard Apple iPad 2021. (11:59). It’s not even as nice as the original 2020 Lenovo Duet (12:47). This might be due to the newer Duet 3 having a larger, higher-resolution screen than its predecessors.
In several aspects, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 is an upgrade over the original Duet. Lenovo updated and increased the resolution of the screen, making everything you see on it seem better. The addition of a second USB-C connector makes the Duet 3 a more viable productivity gadget. As you can now plug it into both power and a USB hub at the same moment to utilize your preferred keyboard and mouse. Of course, the iPad does not come with a keyboard and does not support Apple’s fantastic Magic Keyboard. So you’d have to spend an extra $159 for a Smart Keyboard to make the new iPad as functional as the Duet 3. In any case, the Smart Keyboard isn’t any better than the Duet’s detachable keyboard. So you’ll wind up paying more than $100 for a similarly awful tablet typing experience.