Technology

HP Chromebook x2 11 and Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 review

(*11*)When you go on the lookout for a brand new Chromebook, you’ll discover quite a lot of conventional clamshell laptop computer designs and some convertible fashions with 360-degree hinges. You may additionally 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 Floor Professional or Apple’s iPad. They usually include a keyboard and case that features a built-in kickstand. Most assist stylus enter (utilizing the USI normal, widespread throughout many trendy Chromebooks); some even include one within the field.

Like quite a lot of different Chromebooks, many Chrome OS tablets are cheap, corresponding to final 12 months’s wonderful Lenovo Chromebook Duet. However this 12 months, there are two Chrome OS tablets that goal a bit of greater, with nicer options, higher specs, and correspondingly greater value tags. HP’s Chromebook x2 11 incorporates a trendy, all-metal design, high-res 3:2 display, and $599 price ticket (although it’s continuously on sale for considerably lower than that). Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet 5 has a bigger, OLED show, barely higher specs, and equally transportable design and sells for $499. (One mustn’t overlook the ill-fated Pixel Slate that was so dangerous Google itself stopped making tablets fully, however for the sake of this piece let’s overlook about it.) These tablets aren’t making an attempt to compete with Apple’s base iPad — they’re aiming for the iPad Air or iPad Professional shopper and possibly even somebody who’s contemplating a Floor Professional.

I’ve been testing each of them to find out if both of them are compelling options to an iPad or Floor or in the event you ought to simply follow a standard clamshell Chromebook as a substitute.

Verge Rating

5.5 out of 10

Good Stuff

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

Unhealthy Stuff

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

Verge Rating

6.5 out of 10

Good Stuff

  • Pretty OLED display
  • Nice keyboard attachment
  • Lengthy battery life

Unhealthy Stuff

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

The HP and Lenovo share quite a lot of design traits. They’re 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 by accident slid off my desk, whereas the keyboard cowl on the Lenovo slides round a bit when it’s closed.) Each embrace two USB-C ports for charging and peripherals (on both facet 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 out there 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 side ratio. Neither have the fast-refresh charge screens of Apple or Samsung’s highest-end tablets, however they each evaluate effectively sufficient to different tablets of their value vary. Although I a lot choose the HP’s side ratio for pill use, it’s laborious to disclaim the attraction of the Lenovo’s display, which, like most OLED panels, is punchier, brighter, and typically 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 satisfying on the Lenovo over the HP.

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

The spotlight of the Lenovo is its OLED show

Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

(*5*)

The HP resembles Microsoft’s Floor line of detachables

Picture by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Inside, the similarities proceed. Each 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. Although 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 unsure if it’s right down to the distinction in decision (the HP does have extra pixels to push) or simply common optimization, however the Lenovo stuttered and lagged far lower than the HP in virtually every thing 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. Nonetheless, each tablets have been capable of 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 subject.

Each the HP and Lenovo present battery life that’s nearer to what you may anticipate from an iPad than a standard laptop computer. Even when used for work, which consisted of regularly looking many web sites, chatting in Slack, taking Zoom calls, watching YouTube movies, and extra, each tablets have been capable of final past a normal day, reaching between 10 and 12 hours between expenses. The Lenovo was capable of edge out the HP by only a hair, however each have higher than common battery life when used as laptops. One be aware, although: in the event you go away them unattended for a number of days, they may doubtless have lifeless batteries whenever you choose them up once more.

Pill time

I’m prefacing this part with the assertion that Chrome OS is just not an excellent pill working system. Although it really works fairly effectively 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 dimension and 3:2 side ratio makes it simpler to make use of as a pill in comparison with the Lenovo

Picture by Dan Seifert / The Verge

When you can set up Android apps on each of those tablets, quite a lot of fashionable apps aren’t out there (corresponding to Microsoft’s total Workplace suite) or don’t work significantly effectively (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 via 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 whenever you’re spending half a grand or extra. I’d a lot moderately use an iPad for tablet-focused duties over both of those units.

That mentioned, the HP does work higher than the Lenovo for hand-held pill use. Its smaller dimension and extra manageable side ratio are a lot simpler to carry in portrait mode for studying, whether or not you’re perusing an article, e mail, or Kindle e-book. It feels extra like an iPad than the Lenovo, doubtless as a result of it’s formed way more like one.

The HP additionally has a fingerprint scanner, which makes it a lot simpler to simply 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 value as a lot as these do. (The Duet 5 does assist linking an Android cellphone and logging in via 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. Simply construct in it.)

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

Picture by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Each tablets assist USI styli, however solely the HP comes with one within the field. The stylus conveniently snaps to the facet of the pill and expenses there, very similar to an iPad Air and its Pencil. Although the stylus works fantastic for often jotting down notes and doodling, it’s removed from as fluid or exact as Apple’s. And in the event you’re hoping to make use of it with a wide range of third-party apps, your choices are restricted (for instance, it’s barely practical with Microsoft’s web-based model of OneNote).

Laptop computer life

However whenever you wish to use these tablets as laptops, with their hooked up keyboards and the Chrome OS desktop interface, the Lenovo pulls forward simply. Because of its bigger dimension, the keyboard is way more comfy to sort on than HP’s. Then again, neither design labored very effectively on my lap, however the HP’s keyboard was significantly irritating there: it flexed very simply, inflicting errant trackpad clicks each time I rested my palms on it.

Conversely, the Lenovo’s keyboard was a pleasure to sort on, with wonderful 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), usually, 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.

Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

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

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

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

Each tablets are skinny and mild sufficient to go nearly wherever

Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

When it comes right down to it, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 is definitely the pill I’d select between these two fashions. It’s acquired a nicer-looking display, a lower cost tag, a extra comfy 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. When 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 transportable gadget with an OLED display that can be utilized for work or college and often for leisure looks like an honest sufficient deal to me.

However earlier than you bounce on both of those units, I’d strongly think about if a pill is the proper Chrome OS gadget to purchase in any respect. For across the similar value and even much less, you will get a clamshell or 2-in-1 Chromebook which may be a bit of thicker and heavier however works rather a lot higher and may even be used as a pill in a pinch.

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