Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook
“The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook brings OLED goodness to a surprisingly cheap 2-in-1.”
- Acceptable productivity performance
- Very long battery life
- Excellent display
- Solid build quality
- Display is in the old-school 16:9 aspect ratio
- Limited to Wi-Fi 5
- Kickstand add-on is inconvenient
Chromebooks don’t often beat Windows to market when it comes to implementing new technologies, but Lenovo’s IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook did just that. It’s the first detachable tablet with an OLED display, hitting the market just before the Asus Vivobook 13 Slate that marks the first Windows 11 detachable tablet sporting OLED technology. The IdeaPad Duet 5 is built around Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7c Gen 2, an ARM chip, giving it another first. It’s a larger tablet, but it’s nevertheless an alternative to other low-cost devices like the Apple iPad and Microsoft Surface Go 3.
I reviewed the midrange configuration of the IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook, running $500 and including the Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 and a 13.3-inch 1080p OLED display. I found the tablet to punch well above its price, representing one of the best 2-in-1 tablets at this price.
The first thing you’ll notice about the IdeaPad Duet 5, if you look closely enough, is that its display is in the old-school 16:9 aspect ratio. The laptop world is moving toward taller displays, 16:10 or 3:2, which is particularly useful in tablets that more closely mimic a standard sheet of paper in portrait mode. A 16:9 tablet, by comparison, is longer and skinnier, making it less comfortable for viewing documents and taking notes with a pen.
The IdeaPad Duet 5’s bezels are small on the sides and slightly thicker on the top and bottom. They’re not huge by tablet standards, and the IdeaPad Duet 5 is reasonably sized given the display. Compared to its closest Windows 11 competitor, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 with its 13-inch 3:2 display, the IdeaPad Duet 5 is almost an inch wider, but the Surface Pro 8 is nearly an inch taller.
Microsoft’s tablet is thicker at 0.37 inches compared to the IdeaPad Duet 5’s 0.28 inches, but the Surface Pro 8 has its kickstand built in — more on that a moment. Of course, the IdeaPad Duet 5 is significantly larger than the Apple iPad and Microsoft Surface Go, which are built around 10.2-inch and 10.5-inch displays respectively. If you can stand the size, then the Lenovo is a viable competitor.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable is another competitive tablet with a 12.3-inch 3:2 display, and it’s roughly the same size as the Surface Pro 8, thanks to the latter’s smaller bezels. In terms of weight, the IdeaPad Duet 5 is 1.54 pounds for the tablet alone, compared to the Surface Pro 8 at 1.96 pounds and the ThinkPad X12 Detachable at 1.67 pounds. The IdeaPad Duet 5 isn’t a small tablet by any means, but it’s manageable. You’d save about half a pound going with Apple or Microsoft’s smallest tablets.
Now about that kickstand. Like the HP Chromebook x2 11, the IdeaPad Duet 5’s kickstand is an add-on that snaps onto the tablet’s back and is held in place by powerful magnets. That makes the tablet thicker and is inconvenient — it’s another thing to carry around. The Surface Pro 8 and ThinkPad X12 Detachable are much more pleasant to use with their built-in kickstand, although the IdeaPad Duet 5’s version works just as well. It, too, holds the tablet vertically without any wobble, and it extends just as far, to where the tablet is almost lying flat on a surface. If you don’t mind another piece to fiddle with, then you’ll be fine with the IdeaPad Duet 5’s version. And let’s not forget that this is a $500 tablet while the Lenovo and Microsoft versions are more than twice as expensive fully configured.
The IdeaPad Duet 5 is crafted of plastic, with the top portion of the back being a soft-coated version. It feels solid enough in hand, and your first hint that it’s not made of a metal alloy like the other laptops I’ve mentioned is that it’s not as cold to the touch after it’s been asleep for a while. Unless you have a thing against plastic devices, that’s not a real knock against the IdeaPad Duet 5 — especially given its price.
Aesthetically, the tablet is a dark grey (Storm Grey) or blue (Abyss Blue) slab with just the two-tone portion on the back giving it some panache. Minimalist designs are pretty much the standard for tablets, though, with the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable having the most exotic look.
Connectivity is limited to two USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 ports, one on either side of the tablet — either can be used for charging — and a pogo pin connector for the detachable keyboard. That’s it. And yes, Lenovo left off a 3.5mm audio jack. That’s a huge bummer in my book, and it’s the first tablet I know of that’s dropped the connection.
You’ll be limited to Bluetooth headphones, which I consider a liability. Speaking of wireless connectivity, the Snapdragon chipset limits the tablet to Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.1. There’s no option for always-connected internet as there is with the HP Chromebook x2 11.
The IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebooks uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 system-on-chip (SoC), a slightly updated version of the same ARM processor used in the HP Chromebook x2 11. As far as I can tell, the only significant difference is a tiny speed bump from 2.4GHz to 2.55GHz. Unsurprisingly, I found the IdeaPad Duet 5 to perform a lot like the Chromebook x2 11. That is to say, the ARM CPU was able to keep up with Chrome OS as long as I didn’t have too many tabs open in Chrome or too many Android apps running in the background. I’m sure that the 8GB of RAM and 128GB of eMMC storage had something to do with that.
We don’t have our full suite of benchmarks available with Chromebooks, but in the Android Geekbench 5 app, the IdeaPad Duet 5 scored 599 in single-core mode and 1,718 in multi-core mode. That’s just the tiniest bit faster than the Chromebook x2 11’s 590 and 1,689. It’s well behind faster Chromebooks like the Asus Chromebook Flip C536 which runs a Core i5-1115G4 that scored 1,209 and 2,849 and the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 with a Core i5-1135G7 that achieved 1,190 and 4,151. The IdeaPad Duet 5’s score on the Speedometer 2.0 web benchmark was 47, just ahead of the Chromebook x2 11’s 45. By comparison, the Chromebook Flip CX5 hit 163.
Overall, you’ll be fine with the IdeaPad Duet 5’s performance as long as your productivity workflow isn’t too demanding. As I said, with a reasonable number of tabs and Android apps open, the tablet performed just fine. Exceed that amount, though, and things did start to get noticeably slower. And limit yourself to casual Android games — Asphalt 9, the Android game I use to test Chromebooks, was choppy and demonstrated considerable lag when I tried to run it on the IdeaPad Duet 5. An Apple iPad will run iPad OS games more fluidly, making it a more viable gaming tablet.
From the moment I turned on the IdeaPad Duet 5, I could tell there was something different. OLED displays are so much more dynamic and eye-catching than IPS displays, and the 13.3-inch Full HD version on the IdeaPad Duet 5 is no exception. The colors were pleasant and natural, the contrast was deep with inky blacks, and the display was more than bright enough for all my working environments.
My two complaints start with its 16:9 aspect ratio, which, as I mentioned earlier, isn’t nearly as functional in portrait mode than 16:10 and 3:2 displays, and it also seemed squashed. It’s not a deal-breaker — there are plenty of 16:9 laptops and tablets still being made today — but it’s less than ideal. Next, the Full HD resolution was just okay at the 13.3-inch display size. A sharper screen would have helped, particularly regarding text, and while black text on a white background popped, they did so with some pixels. A higher-resolution display would also have been welcome, but for $500, it’s hard to complain.
Despite this, most users will love this display. Even creative types who want a Chromebook for viewing photos and videos will love the colors and contrast. This display will please all but the pickiest pixel-peepers and those who use a pen to take lots of notes.
Unfortunately, the audio doesn’t live up to the display, despite sporting four side-firing speakers. To begin with, there’s not a ton of volume, even when turned all the way up, and worse yet, there’s distortion that strips out what little bass is there and creates a very tinny sound. Mids and highs are clear with the volume at about half, but the bass is lacking. Overall, you’ll want to use Bluetooth headphones or speakers for anything other than system sounds and the occasional YouTube video.
Lenovo includes a detachable keyboard with the IdeaPad Duet 5, and it’s the same basic design as most such keyboards — with one exception. It attaches to the tablet via magnets and connects via pogo pins, but unlike most keyboards, it doesn’t have the option to prop it up at an angle. You’re stuck using it lying flat, which isn’t nearly as comfortable. There’s plenty of key spacing thanks to the 13.3-inch display and the width it provides, and the keycaps are large and comfortable. The switches provide plenty of travel and have snappy bottoming action. The keyboard feels great — if only Lenovo would have built in an angle.
The touchpad is also good, of sufficient size to be comfortable using the Chrome OS suite of multitouch gestures. The surface is comfortable for swiping, and the buttons have a nice click without being too loud. The display is touch-enabled, of course, and it supports an optional Lenovo active pen. One wasn’t provided with my review unit, so I couldn’t test inking with the IdeaPad Duet 5.
OLED displays can sometimes be the kiss of death when it comes to battery life. But that’s primarily because most OLED laptops use 4K resolution. The IdeaPad Duet 5 uses a 1080p screen and combines that with a low-power Snapdragon processor. It also packed in 42 watt-hours of battery, a reasonable amount for this size device — and more than the HP Chromebook x2 11’s 32 watt-hours. I was very curious to see how long the detachable tablet would last on a charge.
I was pleasantly surprised. In our web browsing test that cycles through a series of popular and demanding websites, the IdeaPad Duet 5 lasted for 15.5 hours — an excellent score that beat the Chromebook x2 11’s 12.75 hours. The 10.1-inch Lenovo IdeaPad Duet, with its 27 watt-hour battery and MediaTek Helio P60T ARM processor, lasted about 13 hours. In our video test that loops a local 1080p movie trailer, the IdeaPad Duet 5 made it to a whopping 21.75 hours — one of the longest-lasting devices we’ve tested. It trounced the Chromebook x2 11’s 11 hours and the IdeaPad Duet’s 12.5 hours.
Simply put, the IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook will last you through well over a day’s work, while leaving some time left over for binging Netflix. Chromebooks running ARM CPUs should have excellent battery life, and the IdeaPad Duet 5 lives up to that promise.
At $500, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook is an excellent value. You get good enough productivity performance and outstanding battery life. The OLED display looks great too, even if it’s not perfect.
Anyone looking for a Chrome tablet on the cheap that they can use for their web browsing, email triage, and media consumption will find that the IdeaPad Duet 5 is a great choice.
Are there any alternatives?
Theis a close alternative, sporting almost the same CPU and a very similar performance. At the same time, its display is good but not as great, and its battery life lags. You can also get it for $100 less, albeit with half the storage.
Another option is the Microsoft Surface Go 3. It’s a Windows 11 laptop, and it’s smaller, but its build quality and performance are just as good and it has its own excellent display. It’s more expensive when you add in the cost of the keyboard, but it’s worth it as well.
Finally, the Apple iPad is a good tablet to consider, although it too is quite a bit smaller. You’ll want to stick with the $329 entry-level model or risk spending a lot more. But it’s faster thanks to a speedier ARM CPU and a highly optimized OS, and it has a great display. It’s also thin, light, and well-built.
How long will it last?
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook might be made of plastic, but that doesn’t mean it won’t provide years of service. You’ll get plenty of performance out of Chrome OS for some time as well. The one-year warranty is fine for a $500 laptop.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 is fast enough for the price, making it a long-lasting secondary device with a beautiful display for consuming media. It’s the best tablet you’ll find for the money.