Friday, 26 August 2022

Lenovo Ideapad Duet


For our Kimberley trip, I treated myself to a Lenovo Ideapad Duet Chromebook in an end of financial year sale. 

Ignore the pricing, mine cost me less that three hundred bucks, and I'm sure you can find an equally good deal if you shop around.

Despite having bought myself a lightweight computer last year as a travel computer, I felt that for this trip I needed something even more minimal. My old chromebook, which died last year, was basically a 13" laptop as far as form factor goes.

The Duet is small - basically the same format as a 10" tablet but a bit thicker due to the keypad and stand, and  it's telling that the travel sleeve off of J's 2011 vintage ideapad K1 fitted just right.

The design is clearly inspired by the Surface Go, but not quite so nicely executed. The stand is a little fiddly to use, but the keyboard is nice to type on and the trackpad is responsive. 

Unlike the Go, the keyboard is included and not an optional extra, and like the Go, the screen is touch enabled.

Like all chromebooks it is essentially stateless, which of course mean that you really do need a network connection to use it effectively.

That said it worked well over various public wifi services in airports, coped well with a captive portal hotel wifi system - one of these ones that asks you for your name and room number before letting you connect, and even over a 4G modem connection.

I didn't try it on either of two wifi enabled Qantas flights we took as both were too crowded to make getting it out of my bag a straightforward proposition. (And as Chromebooks don't really do flight mode - you have to turn off wifi and bluetooth manually - it was probably a non starter anyway)

As for sockets it has a single USB C socket to both connect peripherals and charge the device, so if you need to load pictures from an external SD Card reader you'll need a suitable conversion cable.

Otherwise, in use it's fine. It makes an ideal low cost lightweight internet device - like my old ipad mini and keyboard combo it's supremely portable, but with a slightly larger screen and keyboard it can be used in place of a 'proper' computer for all these mundane activities that are part of travel these days - online check in, car hire, covid status declarations etc etc ...

You can of course run all your standard android apps (more or less) on it and it comes with an option for a linux partition, something that makes the device far more versatile than older chromebooks.

Kate and Libre Office running on my chromebook

Like all chromebooks you are locked into the Google ecology, but for me, given I sold my soul to Google workspace a long time ago that's not a problem. If you are primarily an Apple or Microsoft person you might feel different about things.