When looking for an inexpensive 2-in-1 Windows laptop, Lenovo's IdeaPad Duet 3i has been a consistently solid choice. It has plenty of power for students and travelers, and it comes with a folio Bluetooth keyboard case in the box, making it a bargain. It's been two years since Lenovo updated the IdeaPad Duet 3i, though, and it shows. However, the next generation is due to go on sale later this year, and with the upgrades to the processor, display, and front camera, it will easily make my recommended list.
Compared to the previous generation, the new IdeaPad Duet 3i's touch display is noticeably brighter and larger. The new model has an 11.5-inch display (2000 by 1200 pixels) with 400 nits brightness, which is slightly above average for even a mainstream laptop. This is up from a 10.3-inch display (1920 by 1200) with 330 nits. I've used both display sizes, and find the extra screen real estate makes a big difference.
If you plan to use the IdeaPad Duet 3i for video chat, you'll appreciate the bump in the webcam resolution. You'll now have a 5MP fixed-focus camera, up from a 2MP camera. This extra resolution will provide a crisper image with more accurate color. The rear camera also increases in resolution from 5MP to 8MP – both have autofocus.
You'll find the necessary bump in processing power and RAM speed to keep it current – your choice of a 12th-generation Intel Pentium or Celeron processor and DDR5 RAM. Storage access speed is also faster thanks to the move from eMMC to an SSD, and capacity is now up to 256 GB (previously, the max was 128 GB).
Despite the larger display, the size, weight, and battery life remain relatively unchanged. The battery life is 8.5 hours, a slight decrease from the previous model's 9 hours. The weight is 1.53 pounds (without the keyboard folio) compared to the older model's 1.3 pounds, and the size is 10.68 x 6.77 x 0.35 inches versus the older model's 9.9 x 6.59 x 0.4 inches.
The IdeaPad Duet 3i continues to support pen input, though it’s still not included in the box. The new model provides storage for the pen in its folio case when not in use.
While pricing and availability have not been announced for the U.S. market, the IdeaPad Duet 3i (gen 8) will be available in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for €449 (approximately $450) in June. If the price holds for the U.S. market, that will keep the price below the main competitor, the Microsoft Surface Go 3 with Type Cover keyboard (currently about $500), which debuted two years ago and also needs a refresh if it hopes to compete with the new gen 8 model.
[Image credit: Josh Kirschner/Techlicious]