One of the things I like about the laptop market (I wish this could also be true for smartphones) is the sheer variety of form factors to choose from. You can choose between a traditional laptop design, a 2-in-1, or settle for an ultra-light notebook that weighs less than 900 grams. Out of zillions of laptop designs, I have figured out that the 2-in-1 form factor works best for a person like me. Not only do I get the portability of the tablet but I also get a full-blown work machine.
The latest Yoga Duet 7i is Lenovo’s answer to the Surface Pro range. Although it has a familiar design with an integrated kickstand, the Duet 7i has a larger display and the new Intel Core i5 11th processor along with the included keyboard cover and stylus at Rs 79,999. That’s one heck of a deal, considering you are getting a much better device for a lower price point. But more than the allure of the bundled accessories, my idea of reviewing this device was to test if the new Duet 7i can actually replace the need for a laptop.
Lenovo Yoga Duet 7i price in India: Rs 79,999
The Duet 7i did remind me of my Surface Pro – after all, Microsoft popularised this 2-in-1 form factor. Even if Lenovo takes cues from the Surface Pro’s form factor, which is visible thanks to a flip-out kickstand and can be adjusted to any angle, the Duet 7i feels well-made. It’s made of metal and appears to be a high-end device. As I have mentioned at the beginning, I love the size and portability of this tablet. At 9.2mm, it’s slightly thicker than the Surface Pro 7 but still manages to fit in a 13-inch large screen. I find the 13-inch screen size just perfect and the tablet slides easily into any bag. The Duet 7i itself weighs around 800 grams and the keyboard cover adds over a little more weight on top of that. Still, at 1.15kg, I am getting a device close to the weight of ultraportable notebooks.
On one side, you get a standard headphone jack, a microSD card slot, a USB Type-C port with Thunderbolt 4.0 support and a USB C 3.2 Gen 1 port. On the other, you have a power button, volume keys, and another USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 port. A standard USB-A is missing on this device, which means you can’t use a regular mouse or pen drive. The Duet 7i has a strong magnetic connector for the keyboard cover (more on that later) which also protects the screen from wear and tear. And, on the top are fans. When using the tablet all day long, or after an intense task, you will feel warm air coming from the top. But it never gets too warm; at least that’s what I have observed while testing it.
The 13.3-inch touchscreen screen is super bright and colorful. It’s an IPS panel with a resolution of 2160 x 1350p (2K WQHD). Since the screen is high-resolution, it’s so much joy reading comics, editing photos, or just watching a movie. With Dolby Vision support, the screen is fantastic for watching HDR content. While the display is crisp and beautiful, the large bezels around the sides now look dated. It would definitely be nicer to have thin bezels on the next version of the Duet 7i. The speakers are not great, though. I did not get the immersive sense of hearing, but they are fine for casual music listening or watching YouTube videos.
I frequently used the Duet 7i for the regular work I do on a computer. And by “regular” work, I meant lots of writing. The keyboard cover magnetically grips your Duet 7i and has seamless Bluetooth connectivity and trackpad. The keys are spacious and comfortable to use, the trackpad is responsive and is adequately sized.
While testing the bundled keyboard cover, I did not think of using my trusty Logitech K480 keyboard with the tablet. The keyboard is made of plastic but the cover has this fabric-like material that makes it different and cool to look at. The good thing about the keyboard cover (I found it pretty late) is that it is Bluetooth-enabled and has a built-in battery. For instance, the expensive Alcantara keyboard that I bought for my Surface Pro works only with that device.
But the keyboard cover that comes with the Duet 7i can be detached from the tablet and still works via a stable Bluetooth connection. I can keep the keyboard on my lap and the tablet on the tablet and it would not hamper my workflow. But I have also observed that there is no way to angle up the keyboard a bit when attached magnetically, meaning the keyboard will always lay flat.
A stylus is also included inside the box, and unlike the iPad Pro or Surface Pro which demand an extra cost. The Digital Pen is made of metal, is pressure-sensitive, and has a replaceable battery. Although not as precise as the Apple Pencil 2, the stylus is good for taking notes, or occasional doodling. What I didn’t like about the Pen is that there is no way I can attach it to the tablet, thus there is a chance I might lose the Pen.
The Duet 7i comes with Intel’s i5 11th generation processor. The version I tested had a Core i5, 8GB RAM and 512GB of storage and performed as you would expect from a mid-tier Windows PC. It handled basic computing tasks with no stutter or slow down, even with 20 tabs open in Chrome in the background. I could edit pictures in Lightroom, write stories on Google Docs and then upload them on CMS, or listen to Podcasts on Apple Music. This is more of a device for casual computing needs, so if you are a gamer, a developer, or someone who edits lots of ‘pro’ level videos, the Duet 7i is not for you.
Battery life was not exactly disappointing, but it’s not great either. On any given day, the Core i5 version lasted between 5 and 6 hours on a single charge. I would be needing the charger if I had to sit for long at work. None of the components, including the battery, are user-replaceable. This also applies to a lot of 2-in-1 devices, be it the iPad Pro or Surface Pro.
A 5MP fixed focus camera for video conferencing can be found on top of the screen, and a rear-facing camera that clocks in at 5 megapixels. The picture quality as well as the video quality is fine for Zoom calls. But they are not at par with the front-facing cameras one finds on smartphones these days. Then there’s also the infrared sensor next to the webcam for facial recognition. It is quite fast and works perfectly fine in low light.
The Duet 7i isn’t trying to push the performance to a whole new level, and Lenovo has never made any such claim. A device like the Duet 7i is for those who give more preference to portability yet want a full-fledged laptop experience. The hybrid form factor has advantages over the traditional laptop design but flaws too. The tablet adds an extra touch, something you don’t get from a regular laptop. The form and design are great and so are the screen, kickstand, and the bundled keyboard and stylus. Can the Duet 7i replace a laptop? I think the answer to this really depends on what you use your laptop for. If you, like me, mostly write, check emails or watch a lot of videos all day, you might want to consider the Duet 7i. But if your demands are high (like coding, or rendering videos), I think you should look at other options.