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Lenovo Duet Chromebook Review

22 Feb 2021 T3

So, I bought my first Chromebook, a Lenovo Duet. It’s a pretty unique and nifty product. It’s an ARM-based convertible tablet with an included kickstand and keyboard. It has only a single USB-C port for charging and data. It runs ChromeOS, which means it can also run Android apps and even Linux apps through an automagic virtual machine. It has ‘USI’ pen support. I bought two compatible pens. The pen performance is acceptable; palm rejection is non-existent and quite annoying at times.

It does not have the most performant CPU when managing lots of windows and tabs. Sometimes it gets overwhelmed, and the main browser process crashes, effectively restarting every app I had open.

With the way I used to update my website (building the site locally and committing the changes), I couldn’t update my website from my Duet because the version of pandoc supplied in the Debian repository was outdated and missing a feature that I used extensively. Now, I have updated my site workflow to use GitHub Actions, so my site automatically builds whenever I commit a change. I can now happily update my site using my Duet (I’m using it to write this post).

My ownership of this device has been an experiment into how effective I can be with a very stripped-down computer. 9 times out of 10, when it actually came to getting work done, I was not limited by the Duet. I can program in C and Python in VSCode. I was able to run machine learning workloads in the browser via Google Colab. I write and draw my notes in Google Keep. It is surprising how much you can do in the browser so long as you have an internet connection.

This machine actually meets my needs as my daily driver for school and side projects. I hope that there will be more ARM-based Chromebooks and laptops available in the near future. Finally, Apple is actually doing something I can approve of.

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