Rave reviews for $280 Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/05/20/rave-reviews-for-280-lenovo-c.html


I’m thinking about buying one of these. I am not a techy person, that’s not my jam. Techy pals of boingboing, help me out? I’m planning to go back to uni as an older person, and just need to use a browser for research, word processor for writing, a few USB portals for sticks and my ergonomic mouse, and maybe enough of a brain in the comp to be able to do virtual meetings. And portable af. Yes/no/maybe?

Thx. :heart:


My brain is a bit sideways and for a brief second I thought the reviews were being done at a Rave.


My Tokyo-based, American-Canadian buddy has been living in Taiwan for a couple of years, working as (a?) PM on this project. He and his team are pretty pleased it’s getting good reviews.


If that’s really all you want/need, and your fine with Google Docs for document creation/management, a Chromebook is fine and this seems a worthy product to look at to me.

Me personally, I find Chromebooks more frustrating than useful and their limitations more of an annoyance. There are plenty of good quality inexpensive Windows running laptops on the market that can compete price wise.


This could be OK for what you need, but there are (probably) better Chromebook options. This choice is (essentially) a tablet (iPad-like) computer with a keyboard. It includes some things that may (or may not) be what you want, including a touch screen. It appears to NOT include a regular USB port or a slot for a micro-SD (or regular SD) card, which is useful for those sticks and that ergonomic mouse.

If you simply want an inexpensive lightweight laptop/notebook computer for those tasks (which includes a USB port), I like the Asus Chromebook 15, which is about 3 lbs with a large (non-touch) screen and sufficient memory and processing for most basic tasks. It’s about the same price as the Chromebook Duet ($300). I’ve seen them at Costco.

Good luck


That would explain why the reviews are so positive - might want to check in again with the reviewers in a day or two when the ecstasy has worn off before ordering a chromebook.


Thank you!!!


Thank you! The advice is really appreciated!


And for those of us whose regular workspace is Windows (or Mac) centric**? Or who don’t want to be continually tethered to the internet just to write? Don’t get me wrong–I find my Android tablet very useful, but I don’t do any real work (that is, writing and research) on it. But for $280 I can find a solid used ThinkPad that duplicates my desktop work machine in all but storage capacity, screen size, and keyboard comfort–and even those limitations can be remedied in a pinch via a docking station. (I don’t write on the road any more and never did find the coffee-shop environment attractive, so extreme portability isn’t an issue.)

**And I’m not even a Microsoft application user–I’m so old that I still use WordPerfect and a Gateway 101-key keyboard.


The author cited Best Buy as a markup which seems to be false. The Duet has two models that are listed 64GB and 128GB for storage. With the Google listing the starting prices as $279 this is most likely the 64GB model. Best Buy has only had the 128GB model. And with the 128GB being $20 more it’s a no brainer choice when it becomes a choice. But for now there is no choice as availability is scarce.


Ah, good old Wordperfect. That was my second work processing program actually after some DOS program I was using. Can’t remember the name now. And Lotus 1-2-3 for spreadsheet work.


I don’t know if this particular computer is safe or not, but Lenovo is not trustworthy, in my opinion.

From one year ago:

> One of the most popular Chinese computer manufacturers " Lenovo " has been caught again using a hidden Windows feature to install unwanted rootkit software and cannot be removed on a fixed Lenovo laptop and Computer systems sold.

They keep getting caught doing shit like this, and people keep buying from them. Why, ffs?


For what it’s worth, you can work offline in google docs / sheets / etc - enabling your google drive for offline use keeps your recent files available, you can mark specific files to stay available offline even if you haven’t opened them recently, and you can create new files that will be uploaded next time you do connect to the internet.


The reason to buy this over someone else’s 3 pound chromebook is (a) only 1 pound (under 2 with keyboard and kickstand), and (b) 400 nit screen. I don’t know if it shares any DNA with my 13" Thinkpad tablet, but I’m pretty happy with the latter.


You are absolutely correct.

There is no markup.

Depends. Some Universities have some Windows only stuff you need to run, if so you will also need a Windows computer. Most have just decided to do all that via web stuff, in which case it probably works, but even today sometimes “one the web” means “we hired someone who only checked it with MS Internet Explorer, and it may not work elsewhere”.

Virtual meetings might be harder, you would have to make sure that whatever your University uses works. In theory the web versions of Zoom or the Android version of Zoom should work, but theory is not always the same as practice.

If you can favor a ordering from a place with a good return policy, and test all the software you think you will need before the return period expires. Make sure whatever software you might want to use while physically in a classroom also works if you turn the WiFi off (I think docs has an offline mode so you should be OK for notes, but it is better to try it while you can still return the product). Most universities have WiFi, but it isn’t always good enough to keep up with student demand. Also some classrooms can have crap reception, and the cell reception can be bad in some buildings.

Again, I’m not saying this stuff won’t work, I just think those could be an issue and it would be best if you could test them without risking being stuck with a product that doesn’t work for you.


For school purposes I’d be a trifle nervous about this one; unless you really like tablets or have to have maximum portability.

At least in my experience with Surface Pro tablet devices(where the detachable keyboards run ~$150, so can’t just plead being painfully price constrained); removable, less-than-entirely-rigid keyboards are garbage. Not quite as bad as onscreen touch keyboards, or those hideous flexible silicone ones; but it takes a fairly awful laptop to have a worse fixed keyboard than a tablet with detachable keyboard.

In the same vein, those cover/stand things are really irritating if you don’t have a flat, hard, reasonably roomy surface to work with; the thing will just flop over, since all the weight is right behind the screen. Laptops, by contrast, typically have much more of the weight in the base and hinges that can keep the screen at a chosen angle even if they are in your lap, half-perched on some precarious piece of furniture or the like.

In this case you also don’t get a few USB ports: it’s 1x USB-C and like it. That’s fixable, there are little hubs that will turn 1x USB-C into a few USB type As and possibly one or two other widgets(SD slot, NIC, etc.); but does anyone like dongles?

Chromebooks in general I’m more positive on for your use case: if you do run into a need to run some win32 software you have a problem; but between web apps that are targeted at Chrome anyway and some ability to run Android stuff you are covered for most purposes that don’t revolve around a fairly specific set of tools(and if you are one of those affected you probably already know that).

In exchange for being less versatile than Windows, a Chromebook of given price will typically be snappier about what it does do that the Windows counterpart doing the same thing(Chrome will eat all your memory either way; but there’s way less OS under Chrome on a Chromebook). It also features delightfully quick updates(notably unlike cheap windows devices; a win10 feature update on eMMC isn’t a pretty picture) and is nigh-impossible to screw up, short of hardware damage. Plus, since the ChromeOS team is totally different from the Android side, it enjoys relatively long supported lifespans and fast security updates without meddling vendors screwing things up.

I speak as someone who hates tablets and “2 in 1”/convertible devices, so take it with a grain of salt; but while I could definitely see ChromeOS suiting your needs; I’d only consider this specific device if it was as a backup to a real computer. Minimal ports, significant compromises to the keyboard in an attempt to be more tablet-y; standard laptop-type Chromebooks available for very similar money.


I was just about to purchase an Apple Magic Keyboard until I can get the Duet for the same price.

Thank you so much for all the time you put in your reply. I so appreciate all the free advice I’m getting from my boingboing comrades. :v:t2: