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Ultraportable laptops have improved by leaps and bounds and can have a huge impact on your productivity and with more people than ever turning their kitchens into ad-hoc offices, having a laptop that you can break down at a moment's notice have become invaluable additions to every work-from-home setup.
Lenovo and Microsoft are seasoned veterans when it comes to designing functional laptops and 2-in-1's, but recently appear to be taking some inspiration from each other by trying their hand at what we've seen the other do in recent years. With the Lenovo Chromebook Duet taking some clear direction from the Microsoft Surface lineup, and Microsoft trying their hand at a more traditional laptop.
We're pitting these two very different laptops against each other to help you find out which one is best for you.Lenovo Chromebook DuetMicrosoft Surface Laptop GoChromeOSWindows OS10 Hours of Battery Life13 Hours of Battery Life128GB Storage64GB StorageSingle USB-CUSB-C, USB-A, SD Card Slot and 3.5mm audio$300$550
Lenovo has taken a page straight out of Microsoft's book with the development of the Chromebook Duet by developing a standalone tablet that performs just as well with, or without the detachable keyboard. We've seen this design before with the Microsoft Surface lineup, but team Gates has gone in a decidedly different direction this time with the Surface Go, by adopting a far more conventional design.
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet sports a plush cover that doubles as a kickstand when using it as a desktop, and is remarkably portable, weighing in at just over 2 pounds and measuring no larger than a typical 10-inch tablet. The Surface go is slightly more robust, but is by no means bulky, weighing closer to 2.5 pounds and measuring 8x11 inches and less than an inch thick.
While the Microsoft Surface Go boasts a slightly larger screen at 12.4 inches, it has a slightly lower resolution when compared to the 10-inch FHD display on the Lenovo Chromebook. Both laptops still include a touch screen interface, but only the Chromebook Duet can function as a tablet by removing the magnetic keyboard.The 9 Best Laptops of 2021
The Surface Laptop Go comes in a variety of flavors based on the type of performance you want, allowing you to scale up RAM or storage capacity as needed. However, the base model of the Lenovo Chromebook comes with nearly double the amount of storage out of the box when compared to the Surface Go.
The most distinct difference between these two laptops apart from how they look is the OS. While the Chrome OS is an incredibly versatile tool thanks to the Google suite of productivity applications and the library of Play Store applications backing it up, it still remains very rigid when compared to the flexibility of Windows.
Another big difference between these models is their respective battery life, and while you can leave some margin for error based on open applications and overall usage, the Microsoft Surface Go is the clear winner, averaging around 13 hours of use when compared to the Lenovo Chromebook's 10 hours.
Both laptops come equipped with 4GB of RAM for adequate performance when multitasking but feature drastically different processors. The Chromebook Duet uses a 2.0 GHz CPU that's sufficient for running apps in parallel but lags far behind the Surface Go's 10th gen Intel CPU that's capable of speeds up to 3.6 GHz. This gives the Surface Go a substantial lead in terms of handling any heavy lifting.
Unfortunately, the Surface Go is a bit lacking in terms of storage, while the SD card slot does offer a bit of wiggle room after the fact, the budget-friendly option comes with a meager 64GB of storage out of the box. Compare that to the 128GB offered by the Chromebook Duet for roughly half the price and the winner is clear.The 9 Best Laptops of 2021
These laptops vary wildly in terms of the types of features they offer. The Chromebook Duet is clearly focused on delivering a suped-up tablet experience rather than a full-fledged laptop. The duet has just a single USB-C port and no audio jack, which severely limits connectivity unless you're using a USB-C hub. And while the magnetic keyboard is competent and features a touchpad, at only 10-inches wide it can feel a bit crowded. The kickstand is capable of keeping the laptop upright but using it on your lap will prove to be a bit of a balancing act.
The Microsoft Surface Go is slightly more conventional and includes USB-A and USB-C ports as well as a 3.5mm audio jack and SD card slot for expanded storage. And while both laptops feature user-facing cameras, the Duet also includes a front-facing 8MP camera for photos which will either be a handy feature or completely superfluous depending on how you're using your laptop.
The Chromebook Duet is the clear winner here in terms of value, offering the same performance at $300 that the Microsoft Surface Go can only match at more than double the price. While there are models of the Microsoft laptop that are available for as low as $550, this comes with drastically reduced storage capacity.Final Verdict
The laptop that's best for you is largely going to be determined by your budget and the OS that better serves your needs. If you're looking for a laptop that can handle the majority of productivity tasks with a slightly parsed down OS, then the Chromebook Duet is the way to go. However, if you absolutely need a fully-fledged Windows OS and are willing to spend an additional $200, the Microsoft Surface Go is a solid alternative.