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HP Chromebook x2 11 and Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 review

(*11*)If you go in search of a brand new Chromebook, you’ll discover loads of conventional clamshell laptop computer designs and some convertible fashions with 360-degree hinges. You might also discover a couple tablet-first choices, with thinner, lighter designs and removable keyboards.

These pill fashions run Google’s Chrome OS software program however mimic the {hardware} of Microsoft’s Surface Pro or Apple’s iPad. They typically include a keyboard and case that features a built-in kickstand. Most help stylus enter (utilizing the USI normal, widespread throughout many fashionable Chromebooks); some even include one within the field.

Like loads of different Chromebooks, many Chrome OS tablets are cheap, comparable to final yr’s glorious Lenovo Chromebook Duet. But this yr, there are two Chrome OS tablets that intention a bit larger, with nicer options, higher specs, and correspondingly larger value tags. HP’s Chromebook x2 11 encompasses a fashionable, all-metal design, high-res 3:2 display, and $599 price ticket (although it’s steadily on sale for considerably lower than that). Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet 5 has a bigger, OLED show, barely higher specs, and equally moveable design and sells for $499. (One mustn’t neglect the ill-fated Pixel Slate that was so dangerous Google itself stopped making tablets fully, however for the sake of this piece let’s neglect about it.) These tablets aren’t attempting to compete with Apple’s base iPad — they’re aiming for the iPad Air or iPad Pro shopper and perhaps even somebody who’s contemplating a Surface Pro.

I’ve been testing each of them to find out if both of them are compelling alternate options to an iPad or Surface or when you ought to simply follow a standard clamshell Chromebook as an alternative.

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Verge Score

5.5 out of 10

Good Stuff

  • Manageable measurement for pill use
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Comes with pen within the field

Bad Stuff

  • Occasionally uneven or laggy efficiency
  • Cramped keyboard that may’t be used on a lap
  • Too costly

Verge Score

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6.5 out of 10

Good Stuff

  • Lovely OLED display
  • Great keyboard attachment
  • Long battery life

Bad Stuff

  • Too massive and unwieldy as a pill
  • No biometric authentication
  • No pen included

The HP and Lenovo share loads of design traits. They are thinner and lighter than the everyday Chromebook, and each have magnetic removable keyboards and again covers that double as kickstands. (Neither again cowl gives a lot in the way in which of safety — I managed to crack the display of the HP when it unintentionally slid off my desk, whereas the keyboard cowl on the Lenovo slides round a bit when it’s closed.) Both embrace two USB-C ports for charging and peripherals (on both aspect of the Lenovo, each on the left for the HP), and each lack 3.5mm headphone jacks. Even their case and keyboard equipment are each accessible in a shade of darkish blue.

The HP has an 11-inch, 2160 x 1440 pixel 3:2 LCD touchscreen. The Lenovo has a lower-res however bigger 13-inch, 1920 x 1080 OLED touchscreen within the extra rectangular 16:9 facet ratio. Neither have the fast-refresh charge screens of Apple or Samsung’s highest-end tablets, however they each examine nicely sufficient to different tablets of their value vary. Though I a lot want the HP’s facet ratio for pill use, it’s laborious to disclaim the enchantment of the Lenovo’s display, which, like most OLED panels, is punchier, brighter, and usually simply nicer to have a look at, particularly for watching video. The distinction ranges of the Duet 5’s display are significantly better, the colours are extra interesting, and issues like video and film watching are simply extra pleasurable on the Lenovo over the HP.

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The HP has two front-facing audio system (much like Microsoft’s Surface Pro), whereas the Lenovo adopts iPad-style side-mounted audio system. Both are serviceable, however neither sound all that nice in comparison with an iPad Air, with skinny, typically distorted sound. I most well-liked to make use of headphones (wi-fi, after all, due to the shortage of headphone jacks) with each, save for the occasional impromptu video name or quick YouTube video.

The spotlight of the Lenovo is its OLED show

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

(*5*)

The HP resembles Microsoft’s Surface line of detachables

Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Inside, the similarities proceed. Both of those tablets have Qualcomm ARM processors — the Snapdragon 7c Gen 1 within the HP and the 7c Gen 2 within the Lenovo — paired with 8GB of RAM. Though the variations between the 2 generations of the 7c chip are fairly minor, the Lenovo is noticeably snappier and extra performant than the HP. I’m undecided if it’s all the way down to the distinction in decision (the HP does have extra pixels to push) or simply normal optimization, however the Lenovo stuttered and lagged far lower than the HP in virtually every part I used it for. Neither felt as clean and fluid as a contemporary iPad, and conventional mid-range Chromebooks with Intel processors, like our present fave, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, will run laps round each of those tablets. Still, each tablets had been in a position to deal with my typical workload of a number of digital desks, numerous browser tabs, chatting in Slack, watching YouTube movies, and taking Zoom calls with out a lot situation.

Both the HP and Lenovo present battery life that’s nearer to what you would possibly count on from an iPad than a standard laptop computer. Even when used for work, which consisted of continually looking many web sites, chatting in Slack, taking Zoom calls, watching YouTube movies, and extra, each tablets had been in a position to final past an ordinary day, reaching between 10 and 12 hours between fees. The Lenovo was in a position to edge out the HP by only a hair, however each have higher than common battery life when used as laptops. One be aware, although: when you go away them unattended for just a few days, they may seemingly have lifeless batteries once you choose them up once more.

Tablet time

I’m prefacing this part with the assertion that Chrome OS is just not an excellent pill working system. Though it really works fairly nicely for desktop (or, extra precisely, laptop computer) work, Chrome OS is nowhere close to as refined or optimized for pill use as iPadOS and even Android. Animations and interactions are awkward and stuttery, navigation may be complicated, and it’s very clear that the pill mode was shoe-horned on to an interface that was designed to be navigated primarily with a mouse and keyboard.

The HP’s smaller measurement and 3:2 facet ratio makes it simpler to make use of as a pill in comparison with the Lenovo

Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

While you’ll be able to set up Android apps on each of those tablets, loads of widespread apps aren’t accessible (comparable to Microsoft’s total Office suite) or don’t work notably nicely (Slack, Kindle). Many apps are additionally poorly optimized for bigger screens (an issue shared with Android-native tablets) with poor contact response and small faucet targets. Then there are different unusual app limitations: for instance, Netflix only supports 480p streaming by way of its app on a Chromebook. These limitations and hiccups are extra acceptable on a pill that’s lower than $300; they’re a lot much less so once you’re spending half a grand or extra. I’d a lot quite use an iPad for tablet-focused duties over both of those units.

That stated, the HP does work higher than the Lenovo for hand-held pill use. Its smaller measurement and extra manageable facet ratio are a lot simpler to carry in portrait mode for studying, whether or not you’re perusing an article, electronic mail, or Kindle ebook. It feels extra like an iPad than the Lenovo, seemingly as a result of it’s formed rather more like one.

The HP additionally has a fingerprint scanner, which makes it a lot simpler to only choose up and log in in comparison with the Lenovo, the place you’re required to faucet out a password or PIN code to unlock it. It’s baffling that biometric authentication remains to be an exception to the rule with Chrome OS units, particularly ones that price as a lot as these do. (The Duet 5 does help linking an Android cellphone and logging in by way of that gadget’s biometrics, however I used to be unable to get it to work with my Samsung cellphone, and requiring a particular cellphone to have biometric login is ridiculous. Just construct in it.)

The HP’s included USI stylus snaps on to the aspect of the pill and fees whereas it’s there, iPad-style

Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Both tablets help USI styli, however solely the HP comes with one within the field. The stylus conveniently snaps to the aspect of the pill and fees there, very similar to an iPad Air and its Pencil. Though the stylus works high quality for sometimes jotting down notes and doodling, it’s removed from as fluid or exact as Apple’s. And when you’re hoping to make use of it with quite a lot of third-party apps, your choices are restricted (for instance, it’s barely useful with Microsoft’s web-based model of OneNote).

Laptop life

But once you wish to use these tablets as laptops, with their connected keyboards and the Chrome OS desktop interface, the Lenovo pulls forward simply. Thanks to its bigger measurement, the keyboard is rather more snug to sort on than HP’s. On the opposite hand, neither design labored very nicely on my lap, however the HP’s keyboard was notably irritating there: it flexed very simply, inflicting errant trackpad clicks at any time when I rested my palms on it.

Conversely, the Lenovo’s keyboard was a pleasure to sort on, with glorious spacing, good journey, and satisfying suggestions. It’s the one I selected when it got here time to sort up this text, and I’d completely choose it if I had to make use of a Chromebook for distant education. It nonetheless works greatest when it’s on a flat floor, like a desk or desk, and whereas it’d be nice to have backlighting (the HP keyboard additionally lacks a backlight), typically, I actually like this keyboard.

The Duet 5’s keyboard is shockingly good to sort on, as long as you’re utilizing it on a tough floor.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

The trackpads on each fashions may be categorised as “fine.” They are massive sufficient to make use of multi-finger gestures, and they typically have good monitoring and palm rejection. But neither will blow you away.

The Lenovo’s bigger display additionally makes engaged on it in laptop computer mode simpler. Though its 16:9 facet ratio is cramped vertically, it’s simpler to match two paperwork or internet pages aspect by aspect in comparison with the HP’s total smaller show.

The Lenovo’s noticeably higher efficiency additionally makes engaged on it in laptop computer mode a lot simpler. I can load internet pages quicker, change between apps and digital desktops faster, and usually go about my day with much less interference than once I’m utilizing the HP.

Both tablets are skinny and gentle sufficient to go nearly wherever

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

When it comes all the way down to it, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 is definitely the pill I’d select between these two fashions. It’s obtained a nicer-looking display, a lower cost tag, a extra snug keyboard, and higher efficiency.

In reality, I’d go so far as saying you shouldn’t purchase the HP in any respect at its common value of $600. If you see it closely discounted — this fall, it’s dropped to as little as $350 — that’s a distinct dialog, however at its common value, it’s a really poor worth. The Duet 5, nonetheless, feels prefer it’s priced extra precisely: $500 for a really moveable gadget with an OLED display that can be utilized for work or faculty and sometimes for leisure looks like an honest sufficient deal to me.

But earlier than you leap on both of those units, I’d strongly think about if a pill is the fitting Chrome OS gadget to purchase in any respect. For across the identical value and even much less, you will get a clamshell or 2-in-1 Chromebook that could be a bit thicker and heavier however works so much higher and may even be used as a pill in a pinch.

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