Lenovo chromebook duet stylus. Lenovo Duet Chromebook Review: A Chrome OS Tablet With Great Value

Lenovo Duet Chromebook Review: A Chrome OS Tablet With Great Value

The Lenovo Duet Chromebook is a fantastic Chrome OS tablet that’s affordable and comes with a keyboard. But my review shows a couple of downsides too.

The Lenovo Duet Chromebook is one of the most interesting tablets for the year. Starting at just 279 Dollars we’re getting a desktop-class Chrome browser, a keyboard, a pen option, and updates for 8 years. In this Lenovo Duet Chromebook review, you’ll learn for who this is the perfect tablet.

Design Build Quality

Especially when considering that the Lenovo Duet Chromebook costs just 279 Dollars, the tablet feels surprisingly high-end. That’s because we get a mostly metal body. The upper part is made of blue plastic – I think that looks fine but I know not everybody loves this.

With 7.3mm it’s thin enough and with 450g it weighs as much as most competitors.

It’s a bit disappointing that we get just one USB C port. There’s no headphone jack and no microSD card slot. Well, at least a USB C to 3.5mm audio adapter is included. And on the positive side, you can connect USB C hubs and also connect external monitors and other accessories.

There’s no fingerprint scanner and you can’t unlock it using facial recognition either. That’s certainly a downside.

On the front, we get a 2-megapixel webcam and the main camera has a resolution of 8 megapixels. While the recordings of the main camera are okay, the front-facing camera is missing some detail when recording HD videos. You can record with 1600 x 1200 pixels too, which looks better but is not the 16:9 aspect ratio that videos usually have these days.

Kickstand Keyboard

A back cover for the tablet with an integrated kickstand and a keyboard are included at no extra charge. That’s fantastic because, with pretty much every competitor, you’ll have to pay at least 100 Dollars extra for a keyboard. So, the price of 279 Dollars is super competitive because it includes the keyboard.

With the back cover, the back of the tablet is protected but the frame is unprotected. It’s connected to the tablet using magnets and they’re very strong. The cover is made of plastic and a kind of fabric-like material. It’s not very premium-feeling, of course, but that’s okay. I like that you can open the kickstand quite wide and that one has a metal hinge.

The keyboard is connected using a magnetic connector, so you don’t have to charge it separately. It’s made of plastic too and does not feel as high end as the Type Cover from Microsoft, for instance. But as I said, these cost at least 100 dollars, so it’s okay.

Because of the 10-inch screen, the keyboard is a bit smaller than a standard one. Still, I was able to type with it very fast. Sure, it might be because I’m used to working with tablets. Maybe you’ll have to get used to it first. But the keys do offer real travel which is great.

It does not have any special features like background lighting and it’s always lying flat on a tablet because you can’t angle it up.

We do get a touchpad that sits below the keyboard. It’s small but works fine.

So, overall the keyboard is not perfect. But it works great and I think it’s a fantastic value.

Chrome OS On Tablets

The most important feature of the Lenovo Duet Chromebook is Chrome OS. A couple of years ago I reviewed the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 – but no other Chrome OS tablet has been released in Europe since then. I know Chrome OS is quite popular in the United States – but outside, I think most people are not that familiar with it.

Chrome OS used to be an operating system that relies heavily on the Cloud – and it still does mostly. But by now, you can also install Android apps from the Google Play Store and you can use them locally just like with an Android tablet. Chrome OS is based on Linux – just as Android is – and it’s said to be very secure.

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One reason why it’s so secure is that it’ll get updates for a long time. In fact, the Lenovo Duet Chromebook should be updated until June of 2028. Yes, 8 years. That means it’ll be much longer up-to-date than any Android tablet will be.

The heart of Chrome OS is the Chrome browser. It’s full desktop-class Chrome – so, it’s not the mobile version we know from Android. Instead, it looks and works just as Chrome for Windows or macOS does. And you can use the same extensions too.

Chrome runs much better on this tablet than it does on similar priced Windows devices. Demanding web apps like Gmail, Google Docs, and Netflix run great. YouTube does not perform perfectly inside the browser – sometimes you’ve got to wait for a second when switching to full screen, for example. But it performs much better than similar priced Windows tablets which often have to fight with YouTube.

This tablet is so interesting because of Chrome. At an affordable price, we’re getting a desktop-class browser with which you can do pretty much everything that you’re doing on a PC without having to make the compromises we have to make with the mobile versions. As I said, Google Docs performs very well. And you can leave YouTube running in a background tab and listen to the audio without it stopping, just like on a PC and without YouTube premium.

Chrome OS is very easy to navigate – both by touchscreen and by keyboard and mouse. In tablet mode, we get a kind of home screen like on Android tablets. Here you see all installed apps. If you’re inside an app, you can access a dock by swiping up. And with gestures, you can see all opened apps, open them side by side, and close them.

In desktop mode, you can open several apps in free-floating Windows just like we’re used to from Windows. In both cases, you can access the quick settings and notifications by tapping the date of the status bar. That looks and works similar to Android.

The desktop mode is a bit more stable and seems more finished, better thought through. When using the Duet Chromebook as a tablet, I sometimes notice smaller issues. For instance, there’s no animation when scrolling through the gallery. Yes, nothing major, just some things that Google can improve in the future.

Google Play Store Android Apps

Just like with an Android tablet, you can install Android apps on the Duet Chromebook from the Google Play Store. Not all, but most. I’ve installed YouTube, Adobe Lightroom, Netflix, OneDrive, a couple of games, as well as note-taking apps. They work just as they do on Android tablets.

By the way, you can also install different browsers like Microsoft Edge or Firefox. But, since Chrome is the major highlight of this tablet, it makes no sense to do so. But you could do that.

Linux App With Chrome OS

As I said, Chrome OS is based on Linux. And in fact, you can install normal Linux apps on this tablet. In the settings, you’ve got to activate this feature first. Once you’ve done that, you can use the terminal to install Linux apps and use them.

That means in addition to Android apps, you can also use traditional desktop apps on the Duet Chromebook. I’ve installed LibreOffice, for instance, and it runs fine.

Display

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook has a 10.1-inch IPS screen with an aspect ratio of 16:10. It has a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels, and as usual, I think that Full HD resolution is high enough on 10 inches.

Overall, the display is a pretty good one. It’s quite bright with 400 nits and it’s readable outside. Viewing angles are very wide too. Sure, an iPad Pro has a brighter screen and the AMOLED panels from Samsung are more saturated and have higher contrast. But at this price, the screen is great.

You can watch Netflix in the Browser with HD resolution. But the Netflix Android app supports standard definition only.

Speakers

Speaking of Netflix: On the top, we get two speakers that are separate from each other so that you can hear a real stereo separation. But the sound quality is okay only. Similarly priced competitors like the iPad 7 or Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite offer a better sound.

HP USI Stylus

You can use the Duet Chromebook with every USI stylus. However, at the moment the only one I was able to buy is the HP USI Stylus that costs around 80 dollars. Even though it’s not cheap at all, it does feel super cheap. On a positive note, it’s charged using a USB C cable. And just like with Samsung’s and Microsoft’s pens, it supports 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. That means it recognizes how hard you press down.

The pen is well supported by Chrome OS. When using it, you can rest your palm on the screen, for instance, and it gets ignored. Chrome OS supports some special features for the stylus. You can easily take screenshots and annotate them, for instance, but also cut out parts of the screen. You can use the stylus as a laser pointer and a magnifying glass too.

By tapping on the pen icon in the status bar, you can start a new note very quickly. The standard notes app is Google Keep. But, in the settings, you can exchange it with many apps from the Play Store. Among those are Bamboo Paper and Squid but Microsoft’s OneNote is not supported.

Using the HP USI Stylus you can write handwritten notes on your Duet Chromebook or draw something. That works fine but not as good as I’m used to from the Apple iPad 7 with the Apple Pencil, Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite with the S Pen, or Microsoft Surface Go 2 with the Surface Pen. With the competition, handwritten text looks clearer and the pens react faster.

But, especially when considering how inexpensive this tablet is, I think the pen is good enough. I wouldn’t get it just for the stylus, though. If the pen is the most important feature for you, you’re better off with the competition.

Hardware Performance

The Lenovo Duet Chromebook is powered by a MediaTek Helio P60T Octa-core processor with 4GB of RAM. You can get versions with 64GB and 128GB of internal storage. When using web apps only, the 64GB is fine, of course. But if you want to install lots of games, store videos, and photos, it makes sense to get 128GB because usually, it costs just a bit more. And remember, the tablet has no microSD card slot.

In benchmarks, the tablet gets pretty good results. Especially when considering how inexpensive it is, because in Geekbench 4, for instance, its positioned between the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite and Galaxy Tab S5e. Those are mid-range tablets that cost about the same.

The real-life performance is good too. As I said, the Chrome browser performs much better than it does on similar Windows tablets. Intensive web surfing is possible here. But it always depends on what you’re expecting. Chrome does not perform as well as it does on a 1000 dollar laptop, that should be clear. But for this price range, the performance is excellent.

That’s the case regarding Android apps too. Note-taking apps, YouTube and Adobe Lightroom run smoothly and just as they do on Android tablets. With PowerDirector, I didn’t manage to render a video – maybe somethings needs to be better optimized. But if you want to edit videos with a tablet, you’re better off with an iPad anyways.

Gaming Test

The Lenovo Duet Chromebook gets decent results in my gaming test. I wasn’t able to install Fortnite. But Call of Duty and PUBG Mobile can be played with graphics set to high and I was able to play them smoothly. But sure, better performance is possible. Both games look better even on the cheapest iPad. They do perform as they do on similar Android tablets like the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite though.

Exactly this is what I can say about other games like Asphalt 9 and other, simpler games too. I wouldn’t recommend it as a gaming tablet, in particular, you get a much better experience with an iPad 7 which is faster and has better speakers. But if you want to game a bit in between, it’s possible with this tablet.

Battery Life

When watching HD videos on YouTube at maximum brightness, the battery lasts 4.5 hours. If you’re watching an HD video locally at 50 percent brightness, it can last up to 10 hours.

Lenovo Duet Chromebook Review: Final Words

So, how good is the Lenovo Duet Chromebook? During my time with the tablet, it positively surprised me. I think the value is fantastic. At just 279 dollars we’re getting a desktop-class browser, a back cover with an integrated kickstand, a keyboard, and a stylus option. Other aspects like its display, performance, and battery life are not outstanding, but certainly fine.

I can recommend the Duet Chromebook if you want to have a desktop-class browser and want to get updates for a long time. And if you want to have a keyboard. In fact, it’s the cheapest tablet with a keyboard that I can comfortably recommend.

If you don’t want to work with your tablet, it might not be suited for you though. It’s not a great media tablet. If you want to watch movies and play games, I think an Android tablet or iPad is much better suited. And if the pen is very important for you, you should check out the competition too.

Let’s check out the alternatives.

If you’re willing to spend a bit more money, you get much better performance with the Apple iPad 7. You can get it with keyboard and stylus as well and Safari performs great with web apps too. A major highlight here is that you get access to lots of more apps that are optimized for tablets.

In case you mostly want to watch movies and videos, you get a prettier screen and much better speakers with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e. The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is an interesting alternative too if you need the pen. The S Pen is fantastic.

Another direct competitor is the Microsoft Surface Go 2. It’s an interesting choice if you need Windows apps and if you want a great pen at the same time. Including pen and keyboard, it’s much pricier though.

Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Duet review

The Lenovo IdeaPad Chromebook Duet is an entry-level tablet running Chrome OS. but Lenovo includes a kickstand and keyboard (with touchpad) as standard accessories so it can be used as a laptop, completely mobile as a tablet, or flip the kickstand up and consume media on it.

Starting at under 300, the Duet has a 10.1-inch Full HD LCD screen that gets decently bright and supports USI (Universal Stylus Input) styli. It runs on a midrange MediaTek Helio P60T chipset and equips a modest 4GB of RAM. Lenovo has made 2 in 1 ChromeOS devices in the past, but they were laptops with 360-degree hinges. The removable keyboard and kickstand offer more versatile use cases.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet specs:

  • Hardware: Convertible 2-in-1 tablet; magnetic fabric-wrapped kickstand; snap-on keyboard touchpad; two-tone Ice Blue Iron Gray color scheme.
  • Dimensions and weight: Tablet only: 239.8 x 159.8 x 7.35 mm, 450g; Tablet Keyboard Kickstand: 244.87 x 169.31 x 18.2 mm, 920g;
  • Keyboard: Lenovo Smile Key; 1.3mm key travel; 3mm key space,
  • Display: 10.1-inch Full HD (1920 x 1200) IPS LCD touchscreen display; 400 nits peak brightness; 70% NTSC
  • Chipset: MediaTekHelio P60T (12nm) (4x Cortex-A73 @ 2.0GHz 4x Cortex-A53 @ 2.0GHz); Mali G72 MP3 @ 800MHz
  • Memory: 4GB LPDDR4X 64GB/128GB eMMC
  • OS: ChromeOS
  • Cameras: 8MP autofocus (main); 2MP fixed FOCUS (front)
  • Connectivity: 2×2 Wi-Fi 802.11 ac; Bluetooth 4.2
  • Battery: 7,000 mAh; includes 10W charger
  • Misc: Articulating kickstand. 135-degree free stop; accelerometer; support for USI universal stylus; dual stereo loudspeakers

The IdeaPad Duet is rated for 10 hours of video playback, or 8 hours of web browsing. It offers two cameras: a 2MP front-facing camera for video calls or the occasional blurry selfie, and an 8MP main camera with autofocus.

The timing of this tablet is well in Lenovo’s favor. With many folks switching to online work and school, a low-cost device that can log into web meetings, take notes, and browse the web with a large enough display makes this an ideal device for getting things done from home, and its compact size and portability make it easy to use while traveling.

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Unboxing

We are pleased that the Chromebook Duet includes everything it needs in the box. The tablet comes with a magnetic backplate (which serves as the kickstand), the snap-on keyboard touchpad, charge adapter and cable (5V @ 2A), and a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter.

Let’s take a closer look at the design and build of the Duet.

Design and hardware

The Chromebook Duet’s screen measures 10.1-inches diagonally, and the bezels, the thinnest of which is 9.13mm, are large enough to handle the tablet without accidental inputs. This is an IPS LCD screen with FullHD resolution.

Can you draw on a chromebook? Lenovo Chromebook Duet artist review

Above the display is the front-facing 2MP camera, an LED indicator that lets you know when an app is using it, and the ambient light sensor is here as well.

On top of the tablet are two microphones, and both loudspeaker ports which are upward firing. The right side of the tablet contains the only three physical buttons: a power key and a volume rocker. positioned up in the top third of the edge. Towards the lower end is the tablet’s only port (USB-C) and a battery LED indicator.

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Finally, around back we have an attractive two-tone color finish consisting of an Iron Grey metal backplate and an Ice Blue accent strip where the antennas are located. This is the only color scheme the Chromebook Duet is available in.

The keyboard attaches magnetically via the 5-pin pogo contacts.

By itself, the tablet weighs in a 450g or around 1 lb on our scale, and if you bring it along with the magnetic kick stand and keyboard, that brings the total weight up to 920g or 2 lbs. You can get away with leaving the keyboard at home if you think using the on-screen keyboard will be enough for the task at hand.

Display

The screen here is a 10.1-inch IPS LCD with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 which comes out to an aspect ratio of 16:10. Although it isn’t of the OLED variety, the colors and brightness of the display are both aspects in favor of the Duet. This display is rated for 70% NTSC colors, which shows its low-cost nature, but it doesn’t sacrifice brightness.

Although whites on the screen have a purplish tint, colors are generally accurate. We tested a average deltaE of 2.8, which is quite good. Meanwhile, the max deltaE recorded was 9.1 deviations from pure white. In any case, most people buying this product won’t notice or care about the purplish whites.

In terms of brightness, we are happy to see the Duet reached 428 nits of max brightness. There’s no auto brightness adjustment, though. On the opposite end, the Duet’s display went all the way down to 4.3 nits of brightness, which is pretty dim; great for consuming content after work hours in a dark room.

The screen is large enough to comfortably work with apps side by side but if you switch the display size to 100% (hidden deep in the accessibility settings) it lets more content fit in the screen.

Display: 90% 100% 110% (default)

Battery Life

There’s a 7,000 mAh battery inside, which Lenovo estimates will yield 10 hours of use. Lenovo didn’t specify the test conditions it used, but based on our regular use of this guy, it took a lot before the battery would deplete. The Duet certainly lasted a full day of continuous use, with plenty of charge left over to watch some Netflix before bed.

The included 10W charger will eventually fill in the battery, but it’s quite slow. 30 minutes on the 10W charger got us to about 16% battery, 1h got us up to 36%, and we reached 82% in 2:30h. It took just over three hours to get a full charge.

It turns out that the Duet does support faster charging speeds with a USB-C PD charger. With a 15W (5V @ 3A) charger, charge speeds were much better. It reduced charging time by about a third, reaching 25% after 30 minutes, 50% after one hour, and a full charge was achieved in just over two hours.

Software

Google’s Chrome OS is a powerful operating system that works well in today’s digital world. Since you can download most Android Apps onto a Chromebook, you can pretty much install any mobile app that you’d need, and browsing on Chrome is a superior experience with support for multiple tabs and side-by-side Windows.

Home screen Quick toggles Notifications Recents

The OS takes about 8 seconds from its off state to the login screen. Logging in can take several more seconds as it prepares the OS and Chome will automatically open so its ready to surf right away. You also get Android’s Play Store and most apps are available.

If the app is formatted for mobile such as Instagram, it would take up the full screen when in tablet mode, but it will otherwise be in a resizable window that you can touch to interact with, just as if it was being done from a mobile phone.

It’s worth noting that some apps cause the tablet to freeze up if you try to open it with the keyboard docked but fires up just fine when in tablet mode. This seems to be a result of apps that aren’t designed to be freely resized in Windows. This is easily remedied by force-closing the app from the taskbar and thankfully doesn’t require a forced restart.

One complaint we have about the app launcher is that it isn’t possible to alphabetize all the apps installed on Chrome OS. This isn’t anything specific to Lenovo, this is the same with all Chrome OS-powered devices.

On the flip side, the default Google Search input lets you search through your app list. You can also organize your apps into folders, just keep in mind that every newly installed app will have to be organized manually.

A huge benefit is the promise of software updates. New Chromebooks will receive 6.5 years of updates every six weeks to keep up with any vulnerabilities and patches.

The Duet comes with support for any USI (Universal Stylus Input) stylus. This means you can draw or take notes with the Duet, but you can expect the normal amount of input lag due to the lower-cost hardware here.

Keyboard and touchpad

The keyboard can feel a bit cramped at first since it’s meant to fit within the side of a 10.1-inch tablet, but the key travel and tactile feel is great considering many higher-end tablets don’t even include the keyboard.

The touchpad, on the other hand, it quite small. It does have an accelerator feature that speeds the cursor up when you slide quicker over the touchpad. It’s better than having no touchpad at all, but you can always link up a Bluetooth mouse if you really need to click around.

You can adjust touchpad settings like tap to click, tap-dragging, and touchpad acceleration (the feature mentioned above). You can also reverse the direction the touchpad will scroll when you swipe with two fingers.

Lenovo Duet Chromebook: HP USI Stylus & Pen Features Tested

Performance

The Lenovo Duet is powered by a MediaTek Helio P60T. which was first introduced in early 2018. This ARM chipset is built on the 12nm process and features 4 large Cortex-A73 cores and 4 little power-efficient Cortex-A53 cores all clocked at 2.0GHz. There’s also an ARM Mali-G72MP3 GPU clocked at 800Mhz, integrated 802.11 Wi-Fi ac, and Bluetooth 4.2.

The difference between the Helio P60T and the P60 is that the latter integrates an LTE modem for smartphones. The Helio P60T has comparable performance to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660.

Performance is generally good. Opening casual apps and browsing the web works perfectly on this device. Where you can start to notice stutters is when scrolling Instagram, for instance. especially when there is some auto-playing content in the feed. Note-taking, writing papers, zoom meetings, school lectures, and replying to email are all things this tablet was made for.

You can technically play games on the Duet if you can download them from the Play Store. Games that support keyboard input work well enough.

Verdict

Lenovo has a solid product on its hands. Lenovo doesn’t nickel or dime you for any of the extras like the fabric-wrapped kick stand of the snap-on keyboard, and although there isn’t a real headphone jack, there’s an adapter included in the box.

With a suggested retail price starting at 279, it’s no wonder that Lenovo has a hard time keeping up with demand of this entry-level Chromebook. The Duet is a portable, versatile, and well-rounded product for its price. It’s a no-brainer when it comes to buying a computer for one of the kids to use for school, particularly since this school year has started virtually in many parts of the world.

If you’re wondering whether you should get one of these for your job that has converted to working from home over the last pandemic or so, you should consider that the Duet is a small computer with a midrange chipset and cramped keyboard. If you need to use desktop-grade software or need to work with more applications, you might want to look at something like an entry-level Windows notebook. This price point usually has computers with 15.6-inch screens and some even have full number pads on the keyboard.

There is no shortage of Chromebook devices out there nowadays.including refurbished units that retail for even about half the price of the Duet. Any of them will do basic computing just as well as the Duet. However, the added versatility of a detachable keyboard and a convertible form factor makes this a nice tablet/computer. The Duet gives us Pixel Slate vibes, but with less power and at a much more reasonable entry-level price point. Cutting corners is often frowned upon, but the Duet strikes a nice balance between cost-cutting with fit and finish.

Pros:

  • Versatile, portable form factor
  • Includes keyboard and kickstand
  • Decent keyboard travel and tactility
  • Great battery life

Cons:

  • Included 10W charger is slow
  • cramped touchpad
  • No headphone jack
  • Limited RAM, performance is occasionally sluggish

The 8 Best Mini Laptops to Get Work Done Anytime, Anywhere

Whether you want a cheap Chromebook or a versatile two-in-one laptop, we’ve found the best mini laptops for every use case and budget.

Laptops are smaller, thinner, and more powerful than ever before. but they all vary in size and shape. Although most laptops these days have a 13.3-inch display size, some are equipped with screens as large as 17 inches and weigh as much as 9 pounds.

While mini laptops may not offer the same processing power or expansive screens as larger laptops, their portability, affordability, and simplicity make them a worthwhile option for many. So, I’ve scoured the internet to find the most powerful and portable laptops money can buy.

What to Consider

I know reading the specifications of a laptop can seem a bit overwhelming (and quite boring), but they’re the most important thing to pay attention to when you’re shopping for a new computer — whether it’s for you, your fourth grader, or a gift for a soon-to-be college student. Since choosing the right set of features will ensure you or a loved one will be happy with a mini laptop for years to come, I outlined everything you should consider before making the investment.

Processor

The newer the processor (CPU), the more power and better performance your new laptop will offer. We suggest that you opt for a product with an Intel Core series chip because it’s more capable than the entry-level Celeron series. Affordable mini laptops with the latter are best suited for basic tasks like web browsing, streaming video, or typing Word documents.

Battery Life

Given their smaller sizes, mini laptops just don’t deliver a battery life as long as full-sized models are capable of. Regardless, battery life can make a significant impact on getting through your work- or school day, so make sure that the laptop you purchase delivers at least 8 hours of battery life before needing recharging.

Memory

The hard drive (HDD, SSD, or eMMC) stores all of your data, including your operating system, games, documents, music, and movies. I recommend at least 64GB of storage. Compared to your computer’s RAM, which is essentially short-term memory, the hard drive is your computer’s long-term memory: It stores the stuff you want to open and access throughout the lifetime of the machine.

Random access memory, or RAM, stores data your computer needs to access, and helps your computer run multiple applications at a time. 8GB of RAM is ideal, but 4GB will do for light use.

Display

A great mini laptop should have a sharp screen with a Full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) or higher. Translation? The bigger these numbers, the more detailed the picture on the screen will be, whether you’re editing an image on Photoshop or watching Netflix.

Connectivity

You should look for a notebook with futureproof Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless standards. Features like these are vital before you make the splurge on a new laptop because they prevent your device from becoming obsolete for as long as possible.

Our picks are perfect for students and creative types searching for a laptop with a smaller-sized screen, impressive battery life, a strong build quality, and a fast processor. Whether you want a two-in-one mini laptop with a detachable keyboard so you can use it as a tablet, a convertible laptop with a flexible hinge so you can share presentations using its screen, or just a cheap Chromebook for browsing the web, I have just the mini laptop on our list for you.

How We Selected

Our two technology editors have been reviewing laptops — anything from convertibles or 2-in-1 machines to gaming PCs, and Chromebooks — for over a decade. To separate the best from the rest, I compared more than 40 different mini laptops that have a display under 14 inches in size. I scrutinized them and compared their included ports, operating systems, screens, battery life, keyboards, trackpads, and processors.

My co-editor and I have tested a number of the laptops on this list, but as for the ones we haven’t used ourselves, they have been vetted by industry experts across publications like The Verge, CNET, PC Mag, and Lap Mag. So, you can be confident they will help you accomplish whatever it is you need to get done — whether you’re using them for work or play.

Check out our top picks to help you find the best mini laptop that suits your needs and budget constraints, so you can get work done anytime and anywhere.

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 is USI 2.0: why that’s a good and a bad thing

In our early testing of the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3, we noticed our review unit didn’t seem to be playing nice with our array of USI pens. At first, I wondered if we had a bad unit, but after a few emails it became clear that something a bit more complex was going on. The answer to the problem is simple enough: we need Lenovo’s own USI Pen 2 for this particular tablet. But that answer brings up some troubling issues for USI and Chromebooks, and the path forward isn’t exactly cut and dry.

USI 2.0 – a new standard

Back in March of this year, we reported on an update on the way for the USI standard that has been a part of the ChromeOS story for a few years at this point. Included in this new spec are updates like NFC wireless charging capabilities, support for in-cell display panels, expanded tilt functionality, and an upgraded color pallet. An example of this new stylus type would be the pen that was included in the HP Chromebook x2 11 that attaches to the outside of the device and charges wirelessly while resting there.

All these changes sound great and we were under the impression that they would show up eventually, be available on the right hardware and simply not exist where the hardware doesn’t match up. While that is generally true, there is a cross-compatibility issue present in the move to USI 2.0 that is already causing some pretty serious tremors. We’ve been getting emails, Комментарии и мнения владельцев and messages about the new Chromebook Duet 3 not working with USI pens, and unfortunately, there’s a clear reason without a simple fix.

The missing connection between USI 1.0 and USI 2.0

Here’s the thing, depending on the devices you are trying to use, all of this is backwards compatible. For instance, the pen that comes with the HP Chromebook x2 11 works on older USI 1.0 devices just fine. Additionally, other USI 1.0 pens we tried on that device when we had it in the office worked as expected. With the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3, however, things get more complicated.

In this case, we have a USI 2.0 display that uses in-cell technology (like we mentioned above), merging the display parts of the screen right along with the pen input pieces. Ideally, this makes for a more cost-effective manufacturing process and a lighter, thinner screen. Tablets and smartphones use this sort of in-cell tech and have for some time, so it isn’t new. But it is this part of the USI 2.0 tech that is causing some division.

You see, USI 2.0 panels that use in-cell tech simply won’t work with USI 1.0 pens. This type of display is basically USI 2.0 only, and there won’t be anything to change this down the road. We spoke to Peter Mueller, USI Chairman, about this slight hiccup in the universal nature of the USI pen and he had this to say:

Because the touch and display driver are more tightly integrated for in-cell, the touch sensing has to occur within certain timing Windows in between the display being driven. It is this timing constraint that caused us to have to modify our USI spec for some in-cell panels. We spent many months looking at alternatives to ensure backwards compatibility, but it was not doable.

We have requested clear documentation and marking, and also shipping with a 2.0 stylus (ideally) in order to minimize the confusion and user frustration.

– Peter Mueller, USI Chairman

This all makes sense and there are certainly times when the progression of technology simply means some hardware needs to be left behind. In this case, that just means devices with USI 2.0 in-cell displays will have a more limited selection of pens at this point. As we understand it right now, there are only a few USI 2.0 pens out there, and Lenovo makes one of them. It is currently unavailable on their site and we’ve not had any clarity on when it will arrive.

Being proactive during the transition

Hopefully this changes soon, but until it does, I think the onus is on manufacturers to clearly label their devices and ship them with a pen included. If the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 had the new Lenovo USI Pen 2 in the box, I’m not even sure we’d be having this conversation right now. As it stands, the box for this particular Chromebook makes no mention that we’re dealing with a USI 2.0 only and it is clearly causing a bit of confusion and frustration for consumers.

For so long, we’ve been able to simply understand that Chromebooks either have or don’t have pen support. Period. And if they do, USI is universal and you don’t have to wonder if your current pen will work. While USI 2.0 is still mostly that situation, the exclusion of in-cell screens makes things very murky moving forward since this isn’t a spec most manufacturers point out in marketing materials or on the box.

Clearly, this is something we’ll be keeping an eye on moving forward and as soon as we get a USI 2.0 pen, we’ll be giving it a go. For now, the only device that finds itself in a compromised position is the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3, and much of the issue could be mitigated by clear communication and including a working pen in the box. While we have no assurances on either of those things at this point, at least if you’ve read this post, you are aware of the current state of things. We’ll update as we learn more.