Hands-On: Lenovo's IdeaPad Duet 5i Takes on the Microsoft Surface Pro

Hands-On: Lenovo's IdeaPad Duet 5i Takes on the Microsoft Surface Pro

Lenovo is building on the appeal of one of its successful Chromebook 2-in-1 offerings by pivoting it into a new Windows- and Intel- based detachable tablet, the IdeaPad Duet 5i.

Based on the excellent IdeaPad Duet 5 Chromebook, the Duet 5i is a Windows 11 machine with more impactful Intel processing chops. The “i”, indeed, stands for Intel. These changes have turned the base design into a much more Surface-like PC for true productivity.

This device will launch in July starting at $749.99, with the keyboard included. We were able to check out the 5i in person at a preview event in New York; see our first impressions in the video below...

Lenovo's Surface Alternative

While the original Duet 5 Chromebook variant will also remain available as a lower-powered, more affordable option, the 5i is looking to be Lenovo’s equivalent to the Surface Pro. A big part of that are the components, which we’ll get to, but as far as the design as concerned, it features a nice metal build, a built-in kickstand, and a removable keyboard.

(Photo: Molly Flores)

The Duet 5i measures 0.37 by 11.4 by 7.6 inches (HWD) and 1.78 pounds. (The keyboard adds another 0.79 pound.) That’s quite portable for a full-fledged Windows machine, living up to the concept of the tablet/laptop hybrid and ready for your bag, airplane tray, or coffee-shop table.

Hands-On: Lenovo's IdeaPad Duet 5i Takes on the Microsoft Surface Pro

Crucially, the keyboard can still function when you detach it from the machine. It can stay connected with Bluetooth, letting you type from a distance, which can be useful for comfort in less-traditional workspaces you may find yourself in while traveling. Lenovo rates the battery life of the keyboard for up to 28 hours on its own.

(Photo: Molly Flores)

For a machine aspiring to professional use, a nice screen is a must. The 12.4-inch display is set up in a 16:10 aspect ratio with a 2,560-by-1,600-pixel native resolution. The maximum brightness is rated at 450 nits—quite bright—and Lenovo claims 96% coverage of the DCI-P3 color space. We’ll have to confirm those claims ourselves, along with battery life, with our testing regimen when these units become available.

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Supporting your work and play are two 5-megapixel cameras, a dual microphone setup, two speakers featuring Dolby Atmos, Wi-Fi 6E support, and Bluetooth 5.2. On the physical connection side, you get only two USB-C ports, so leave your traditional USB-A devices at home if you don’t carry an adapter with you.

A New Duet: Windows and Intel 'Alder Lake' Combine

The design and features are appealing, but as we mentioned, it’s the leap to Windows 11 and the latest Intel components that differentiate the Duet 5i. First and foremost, Lenovo will offer a range of processors you can choose in this system, even including a low-power Intel Pentium 8505 chip.

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The peppier Intel Core processors are likely to prove more popular, though. Lenovo will offer three Core CPU options, all part of the latest 12th Generation “Alder Lake” lineup. On the entry-level side, there’s the Core i3-1215U, followed by the more potent Core i7-1233U and Core i7-1255U. (Intel just launched these and other 12th Generation U-series chips last week.)

While the latter two are Core i7 processors that should provide strong performance (certainly better than the Core i3 and Pentium options), note that they are U-series chips. This line is used in thin-and-light PCs, and has lesser power potential than the H series or new P series, which are configured at higher wattages. If you have truly demanding workloads, this probably won’t replace your desktop or workstation laptop, but it should be as capable as any ultraportable.

(Photo: Molly Flores)

Aside from the processor, you can equip the Duet 5i with 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB of memory, and anywhere between 128GB and 1TB of SSD storage. There is no discrete GPU, instead leaning on the processor’s integrated graphics.

We’ll have a full review of the IdeaPad Duet 5i when it becomes available, so stay tuned.

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George Washington

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