The 2020 Lenovo Chromebook Duet impressed us with its remarkably low price, great screen and impressive battery life. It was one of the first Chrome tablets on the market, and when you attach the included type cover, it doubles as a pretty serviceable Chrome-powered laptop.
It did well for Lenovo, and now the company has unveiled a promising successor: the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5, an upgraded version with a bigger, better OLED screen and correspondingly higher price tag.
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While it's not the first OLED-equipped Chromebook on the market, the Duet 5 looks like it could be the first Chrome tablet with an OLED display. And according to Lenovo, it should still deliver best-in-class battery life. But will it be worth the asking price? Here's what we know so far about the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5: Price and availability
Lenovo unveiled the Chromebook Duet 5 this week as part of its annual Lenovo Tech World showcase. It's scheduled to go on sale in October 2021, with a starting price of $429. That's roughly $150 more than the $279 starting price of the original, OLED-less Lenovo Chromebook Duet, though you can now find it for $50-100 less.
You should be able to purchase it through Lenovo's website, and you may also be able to find it at select third-party retailers. It will be on sale outside of North America under a slightly different name, the IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook, due to some vagaries in the way Lenovo brands its products in different regions.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5: Design
At first glance the Chromebook Duet 5 looks quite a bit like the original Duet, just bigger. There's the core tablet with its 13.3-inch OLED display, and then there's the detachable keyboard and fabric back cover with built-in kickstand. The back cover also has a little shallow dugout with a magnetic charging pad where you can stash the Chromebook Duet 5's stylus when you're not using it.
In our original review of the Duet, we found the detachable fabric cover's built-in kickstand to be a little weak, but serviceable as long as you're careful with it. The keyboard was a similar story.It takes some getting used to and it tends to slide around if you're not careful, but it's good enough to get work done when you're on the go.
Size-wise, the base Chromebook Duet 5 tablet is shaping up to be 0.29 inches thin and just 1.5 pounds heavy, making it nearly as thin and light as the 2020 iPad Air. It will be available in a pair of color options: Storm Grey or the more eye-catching Abyss Blue.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5: Display
The big selling point of this new Chromebook Duet 5 is its 13.3-inch Full HD OLED display. This is a big deal because OLED displays are still something of a rarity in laptops, especially Chromebooks. OLEDs typically deliver more vibrant colors, inkier blacks, and sharper contrasts than non-OLED screens — the 4K AMOLED display in the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, for example, made watching movies and light gaming on a Chromebook a joy.
Lenovo claims the Chromebook Duet 5's OLED display can achieve 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and deliver brightness levels of up to 400 nits, which would make it pretty eye-catching; we're eager to get one in for testing and review so we can verify these claims for ourselves.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5: Ports
Don't expect a lot of options for plugging accessories into the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5. Port-wise, it'll arrive with a pair of USB-C 3.0 ports, which is at least enough to hook up an external mouse and keyboard if you really want to be productive.
There's also a pogo pin connector along the bottom edge of the tablet, which is where you plug in the included keyboard cover when it's time to shift out of tablet mode. So far it doesn't appear to have a headphone jack, so you may be stuck using Bluetooth headphones if you want to jam out or get some privacy during video calls.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5: Performance
Chromebooks aren't known for packing powerful components, because Chrome OS has a limited scope and doesn't require much to run well. The original Lenovo Chromebook Duet packed 4 GB of RAM and a Mediatek Helio P60T 2.0GHz octa-core CPU, which was enough to handle most light web browsing and run a few games at middling speeds.
The new Chromebook Duet 5 looks like it will pack a smidge more power, as it will ship with a Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 processor and up to 8 GB of RAM. Storage-wise, you'll get an eMMC SSD with up to 256 GB of space, which is slim — but you really don't need a ton of storage space on Chromebooks since you're meant to mostly rely on websites and web apps.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5: Battery life
One of the big selling points of the original Chromebook Duet was its remarkable battery life. Lenovo advertised it as lasting up to 10 hours on a single charge, but in our lab testing it actually lasted 12 hours and 47 minutes, blowing most tablets and Chromebooks out of the water.
Lenovo's new Chromebook Duet 5 looks like it should last as long or longer, as the company claims its 42WHr battery will deliver up to 15 hours of use on a single charge. Of course, we'll have to get one in and test it ourselves to verify whether it can last that long (or longer) under real-world conditions.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5: Outlook
We were pleasantly surprised by the performance of the original Chromebook Duet, and by all accounts so was Lenovo. The company happened to release its innovative Chrome-powered 2-in-1 right as the COVID-19 pandemic was kicking into high gear and parents started snapping up cheap Chromebooks so their kids could attend school remotely.
Now the company appears ready to capitalize on the continuing demand for light, premium Chromebooks with the Duet 5, and we can't wait to see how the addition of an OLED display changes the experience of using a Chrome tablet. We'll just have to wait until October to get one in for testing and see for ourselves.