Lenovo’s new budget 2-in-1 includes larger display and improved camerason February 26, 2023 at 23:46 Tech Advisor

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There are no shortage of Windows 2-in-1s these days, but Lenovo’s latest offering is one of the most affordable. 

For €449, the new IdeaPad Duet 3i runs the full version of Windows 11 and a detachable keyboard included in the box, something Microsoft’s rival Surface Go 3 (from $399.999/£369.99/€449) can’t match.  

The device itself now has a larger 11.5in IPS display, up from 10.3in on its predecessor. That extra screen real estate gives it a very respectable 2000×1200 resolution, while Lenovo advertises full DCI-P3 colour gamut coverage.

You also get improved cameras, with a 5Mp front-facing webcam and 8Mp rear sensor, plus Dolby Audio support. It should make the IdeaPad Duet 3i a solid option for video calling.

Unfortunately, performance looks hugely compromised to hit this price point. The IdeaPad offers a choice between Intel’s N100 and N200 processors, basic chipsets from 2022’s Alder Lake range. Alongside 4- or 8GB of RAM, they’ll be just enough to handle the basics, but absolutely nothing more. Gaming is out of the question.

While the device is only 8.5mm thick, ports are extremely limited. You get just two USB-C ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you’ll almost certainly need an adapter or dongle.

Either USB-C can be used to take advantage of fast charging support, with Lenovo claiming two hours of usage from just 15 minutes plugged in.

Battery life is also a slight concern, although the 35.6Wh cell can supposedly get you up to 8.5 hours of video playback.  

Other features of note include a 128- or 256GB SSD, dual mics and an optional digital pen, which can be conveniently stored under the keyboard cover when not in use. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

However, you’ll have to wait a while for this 8th-gen Duet 3i, as it doesn’t go on sale until June 2023. It’d be a real surprise to see it end up as one of the best 2-in-1s you can buy. 

IdeaPad Slim 3 Chromebook

If you’re on the hunt for a budget laptop but don’t need 2-in-1 functionality, the IdeaPad Slim 3 Chromebook could be worth considering.  

As the name suggests, it runs Chrome OS, Google’s lightweight alternative to Windows. But power comes from a basic MediaTek Kompanio 520 chip, alongside 4/8 GB of RAM and just 64/128GB of slow eMMC storage. 

Lenovo

Performance should still be suitable for day-to-day tasks, although only the top-spec model has an IPS touchscreen. Cheaper versions drop down to TN panels and 720p resolution at its €349 starting price. 

You do at least get more ports here, with USB-A and microSD added to the usual USB-C and 3.5mm headphone jack. 

But battery life is where the Slim 3 Chromebook can really shine, with Lenovo claiming up to 13.5 hours of usage on a single charge. There’s also a promising sounding Full HD (1080p) webcam with its own physical privacy shutter. 

It’ll be available from May 2023, and could be a contender for one of the best Chromebooks out there – provided you’re shopping on a strict budget. 

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