Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook 13-inch OLED

Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook: a tablet killer? (review)

With more and more applications moving to the cloud, do we still need a fully-fledged Windows PC? If we use a tablet instead, what operating system should we use? Could Google’s efficient and inexpensive Chrome OS be enough for our needs? So many questions! For some answers, we looked at the Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook tablet to see if it was up to the task.

Lenovo Ideapad Duet 5 Chromebook review

Price (RRP)From $649
FromLenovo, Officeworks, JBHiFi, Big Lee and selected retailers
Warranty24 months
Manual or Support pagesUser guide
Country of ManufactureSlovakia
About:Lenovo delivers a full portfolio of PCs and tablets, monitors, accessories, smartphones, smart home and collaboration solutions, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), commercial Internet of Things (IoT), software, services, and smart infrastructure data centre solutions around the world.

What can I do with a Chromebook?

We live in a connected world. If you visit Officeworks, it is very difficult to buy a piece of standalone software that you load onto a computer. Nearly everything is now cloud-based, and you use your browser to access apps online. Except for specialised applications requiring specific software or lots of computing resources, a Chromebook will do the job. Chances are there is even an app that you can download from the Google App store. Helpfully, Chromebooks now support most Android apps. While they don’t natively support Microsoft apps such as Outlook or Word, you can run Office 365 on via a Chromebook’s browser.

Small Business Answers, our sister publication, did a guide on whether you can use a Chromebook for business and the resounding answer is yes. The perception that it is just a computer for education is very wrong. More Chromebook features are regularly added through software updates, making it a versatile platform for work and play.

Why should you consider a Chromebook?

For starters, Chromebooks are considerably cheaper than many PCs, and this is because the hardware requirements are significantly lower. Additionally, Chromebooks don’t come with much “bloatware” (unwanted pre-installed software) many manufacturers cram into their devices. This makes things simpler, and it is unlikely you will need the services of an IT Guy to solve issues.

Another benefit is that Chromebooks are light and compact. They tend to be far less power-hungry, so batteries can be smaller and last all day. It’s also good for taking on the road, taking up little storage space. Plus, Chromebooks feature instant startup; they don’t need to load lots of code to start and open at the press of a button, ready for you to access information.

Chromebooks also take full advantage of cloud-based infrastructure. Cloud storage means you rarely run out of capacity, and your data is automatically backed up. Although Chromebook devices are designed to work online, you can still access files without internet access when needed.

Features of the Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook

With the keyboard removed, the 13.3-inch screen tablet is very clean, with just two USB-C ports, one on each side, a power button and two volume buttons. The touchscreen display uses OLED technology, meaning you get the best screen quality currently available, providing perfect blacks and vibrant colours. A side benefit is that it emits 70% less blue light, drastically reducing eye strain compared to an LCD display.

The Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook has Wi-Fi 6 technology for fast internet speeds, and Bluetooth 5.1 support for connecting additional peripherals like a mouse, keyboard, and headphones.

Two models are available with near-identical specs except for memory and local storage. The lower spec has 4GB ram and 128GB storage, and the higher model has 8GB Ram and 256GB storage.

Measuring 306mm x 187mm x 7.2mm and weighing only 1.02kg, the Duet 5 is small enough to easily carry around. This includes a protective magnetic back that acts as a stand and a removable (magnetic) keyboard. Remove both, and you have a smaller, lighter tablet.

Why is the Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook a tablet killer?

Let’s say you want a large tablet with a screen size of around 13 inches. We must also assume that you are an average user not needing hardcore gaming or video editing. Of course, you can still play games and do simple video editing on this tablet, just don’t expect to run the latest Call of Duty or Adobe Premiere Pro.

Also, your choice of operating system does not result in the same difference it once had. Whether you choose Android, Windows or iOS, most of your interactions will be on a browser or an app. Almost everything you want to do will work on any operating system.

13-inch tablet choices (prices seen in store):
  • Samsung Tab S8 12.4-inch screen from $1,499, 14.6-inch screen $1797
  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch screen $1647
  • Microsoft Surface Pro 8 i5 Intel 13-inch screen $1548
  • Microsoft Surface Go Arm processor 10.5-inch screen $796
  • Lenovo Duet 5 13.3-inch screen $597

One benefit the Duet 5 has over its competitors is its removable keyboard, which comes included. None of the units listed above include keyboards, resulting in hundreds of dollars extra if you need something to type on. It may not have the same grunt under the hood, but the average user will unlikely see any difference. The price is the killer, allowing you to buy another one in a couple of years with improved technology and still be ahead.

Using the Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook

I have used the Duet 5 every day for four weeks, and it is so flexible, allowing me to reply to emails at the kitchen table or to watch Netflix in bed. The keyboard and mousepad are convenient to use but equally easy to remove. The magnetic attachment of the keyboard finds its own correct position when you close the screen and keyboard.

The audio on this Chromebook is a bit tinny but adequate for most scenarios. When watching Youtube, for example, I choose to listen to the audio through a set of headphones which fixes the base issue and has the added benefit of not disturbing others. I also choose to use a separate Bluetooth mouse as a personal preference when doing any serious typing.

If working at my desk with my large monitor, I mirror my Chromebook screen via the USB-C port. My files are kept in the cloud on both Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive for convenience.

Either USB-C port can be used for charging the battery which is convenient for plugging into either the left or right port. The battery life is excellent; I only charge it once every two days. Lenovo quotes 15 hours of battery life, which will depend on what you use it for. I never used the supplied charger and have just used the USB-C attached to my monitor or a simple Samsung phone charger. Note the phone charger is not strong enough to activate the charging light but will restore the unit to full power if left overnight.

GadgetGuy’s Take

The Lenovo Duet 5 Chromebook has a 13.3-inch OLED display that is as much a tablet as it is a laptop with its removable magnetic keypad. It’s a real tablet-killer as it will run Android apps, has full internet browser functionality, and is cheaper than any other tablet and tablet-like solution for the large screen size.

With most applications in the cloud, you no longer need the processing power to be in your physical device. This Lenovo Chromebook does everything the average user will need, including streaming video and video conferencing.

Lenovo Ideapad Duet 5 Chromebook
Value for money
Ease of use
OLED screen is magnificent
Amazing price compared to other tablet solutions
Removable magnetic keyboard/case
The sound is a bit tinny
Learning a new operating system can take time