There are lots of things at CES—gadgets, accessories, robots, smart home, laptops…pretty much everything you can think of. And so far, I’ve seen a lot of that stuff. But as of right now, my favorite thing is a tiny, unassuming tablet/laptop from Lenovo.
One of the best things about CES is getting hands-on time with a lot of the stuff that I would typically pass off as, well, no big deal. Without actually seeing Lenovo’s IdeaPad Duet, I may have been quick to dismiss it as a neat idea, but nothing worth talking about. But after I saw it, I knew that this thing is special.
Here’s the thing: I didn’t realize it when I got the press release, but this is a Chromebook that I’ve been waiting for. It’s a 10-inch Chrome OS tablet with a fold-out kickstand, but it’s also a little-bitty laptop thanks to its magnetic keyboard/trackpad attachment. To put it bluntly, this is what the Surface Go should’ve been.
For such a tiny, unassuming little thing, it does a lot. In its full form, it’s a laptop, thanks to its Surface-like kickstand. But then you pop it off the keyboard, and it’s a tablet…also with a kickstand. But here’s where things get really cool: the kickstand is actually a magnetic full-back attachment that can be removed entirely from the device, which makes it thinner, lighter, and simpler. At that point, it’s just a tablet. The whole system is so clean—if you didn’t know the back comes off, you’d never know that the back comes off.
Speaking of the kickstand, I was impressed with how solid it felt in the limited time I got to spend with the device. I figured it would be flimsy and lack stability, but neither of those things is true. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that it’s a 135-degree free-stop hinge, so you can easily adjust it to any angle in that range. It’s great.
It’s honestly one of the most versatile little Chromebooks I’ve ever seen, and a great use of the newest Chrome OS form factor (the tablet). It’s not going to replace your laptop, of course—it is just a 10-inch device, after all. But it’s a perfect secondary gadget to use around the house or a killer little device for a younger child.
And that’s really where the value is for me. My youngest son has a Fire tablet right now, but it’s getting long in the tooth. I’ve wanted to get him a Chromebook for a while, but would also like to replace his old Fire tablet. With the IdeaPad Duet, I can easily do both with the same device. It’s a Chromebook when he needs it for schoolwork or online learning tools, but also a very capable tablet when he wants to watch YouTube or play Minecraft. I love that.
The icing on the cake, though, is the pricing. The whole shebang—tablet, keyboard, kickstand, etc.—is only going to be $280 when it’s released. That’s an absolute steal for a device that can do so much. It’s going to be perfect for my little guy.
As great as the price is, though, you have to keep your expectations in check because this is not a powerhouse Chrome OS device. It’s powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio P60T processor, 4GB of RAM, and a top-end 128GB of storage. That’s a pretty solid little list of specs given the price, but you’ll need to keep the Duet’s limitations in check—it’ll be pretty easy to push that processor to its limits and fill the RAM pretty quickly. But as long as you go into it knowing what you’re getting, you’ll be golden.
If you’re as into this little device as I am, you’ll be able to get your hands on it in May of 2020. I can’t wait. Hell, I’ll probably buy two.