Gorgeous 500-nit display
Comfortable keyboard folio
Long battery life
Dearth of ports
About the Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Duet 3
Here are the specs of the Chromebook Duet 3 tablet we reviewed:
- Processor: Snapdragon 7C Gen 2
- Graphics: Integrated
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 128GB eMMC
- Display: 10.9-inch 2000 x 1200 touchscreen display with stylus support
- Ports: 2 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1
- Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.1
- Camera: 5MP front-facing and 8MP rear-facing
- Battery: Li-Polymer 28 Whr battery
- Weight: 2.09 pounds with accessories
- Size: 10.15 x 6.47 x 0.31 inches
- Warranty: 1-year limited warranty
The Chromebook Duet 3 tablet runs ChromeOS and comes with an included keyboard and trackpad folio cover. There is only one configuration available.
What we like
Great design and included accessories
Even though this is a budget tablet, there is phenomenal attention to detail and build quality. Running your hand across the fabric folio cover, the gray cloth feels like a rich and textured book cover. The kickback stand on the tablet’s rear holds its shape well, but its stiffness makes it difficult to open with one hand.
Open up the cover, and you will find a keyboard and trackpad that allow you to use the tablet like a laptop. Lenovo’s laptops are generally well-regarded for their ergonomics, and this folio is no exception. The keyboard keys are large, responsive, and easy to read. Although the trackpad is small, the smooth surface is painless to glide across.
Long battery life
It’s no secret that ChromeOS devices excel with battery life management compared to Windows counterparts. We cycled through 20 web pages at about 200 nits of brightness on the Duet 3, starting from a full charge until it drained completely to test its battery life against the competition. It puttered out at about 10.5 hours, a slight improvement over the original Duet’s 10 hours.
By comparison, the Lenvo Chromebook Flex 5 only lasts about six hours, and the 9th-gen iPad lasts for about ten hours. The Duet 3 has enough battery life to easily make it through the day for light web browsing and productivity.
Bright, vibrant display
The Duet 3 manages to pump out 400 nits of peak brightness, making it an excellent e-reader for a sunny afternoon. Colors pop on-screen, and the 2000 x 1200p resolution renders images clearly and crisply. Videos look great on the display with excellent contrast and smoothness. It doesn’t beat the latest Apple iPad's screen, but it’s easily on par (if not better) with many $500 laptops.
What we don’t like
The front camera is grainy
The front-facing camera works, but it’s worse than what you could get from your smartphone. With only 5 Megapixels (MP) to work with, the image comes across as grainy and flat. The 8MP rear camera’s a little clearer, but it would actually be better utlized on the front screen since tablets are better for video chatting than photography. In comparison, the similarly priced iPad has an 8MP rear camera and 12MP front camera.
There’s only one port
Yes, most mobile devices have completely ditched connectivity ports, but they’re still so useful! The only port on the Chromebook Duet 3 is a USB-C port—it’s the charging port, the headphones port, the peripherals port, and the external storage port. There is no headphone jack, no SD or microSD card slot, and no extra USB-C ports. If you want to connect something, you’ll either need to get a USB-C dongle or use Bluetooth.
While Chrome OS doesn’t require as many resources as Windows to run smoothly, powerful hardware benefits any operating system; the Duet 3’s Snapdragon processor isn’t fast. It’s fine for browsing the internet or watching Netflix, but any real productivity will grind it to a halt. Opening Chrome, Spotify, Word, and YouTube at the same time made the Duet 3 sluggish, each app taking about five seconds to load at startup. However, switching tasks within an app, like opening a new website in Chrome, only took a couple of seconds to load.
Similarly priced Chromebooks, like the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5, often come with more powerful processors like the Intel Core i3, which means they’re good for work and play, and even the base iPad can outperform this slow tablet. It was our biggest gripe with the original Chromebook Duet, and it’s frustrating to see the performance so low after a substantial price increase over the original.
Even for a tablet, the Duet 3 seriously lacks bass. Meanwhile, the treble is thin and wispy. Upper mids and vocals drown everything else out, the audio tinny and a pain for anything more substantial than YouTube commentary videos. While it would be unreasonable to expect exemplary performance from such a small device, many smartphones easily surpass what the Duet 3 can achieve. On the bright side, audio is clean for the most part, with little distortion to be found.
Should you buy the Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Duet 3?
Only if it’s on sale
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 is a beautiful laptop with superb build quality and ergonomics, but its lackluster performance and relatively high price tag hold it back from being a great Chrome OS device. However, if you find it on sale for $250 or less, the long battery life, bright and vivid display, and top-notch keyboard and trackpad become much more enticing.
Even though the $379 retail price includes a keyboard and trackpad folio, the Chromebook Duet 3 underperforms compared to tablets and other Chromebooks of similar value. The 2021 iPad 9th gen is a year old, but its phenomenal display, long battery life, strong performance, and accessory ecosystem make it worth more than its $329 price tag (although you will have to buy your own keyboard and cover, which can raise the price considerably depending on what you buy).
If you’re looking for a ChromeOS device, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is one of our favorite Chromebook thanks to the display, performance, and ergonomics, although it does have a shorter battery life than the Duet 3. If you can splurge, the latest iPad Air performs on par with thousand-dollar laptops for only $599, and the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 offers a QLED screen for $529.
Overall, the Chromebook Duet 3 isn't a bad Chromebook, but it just doesn’t offer the same performance as its closest rivals. Were it a hundred dollars cheaper, it would be a fantastic value for those who want a basic tablet for web surfing or movie streaming. As it stands, there are better options with ChromeOS, iPadOS, and Windows 11.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Adrien is a staff writer for Reviewed, mainly focused on reviewing laptops and other consumer tech. During his free time, he's usually wandering around Hyrule.
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