Last year, I was the first person to review the YOGA Duet 7 2021, which was Lenovo’s alternative to the Microsoft Surface Pro lineup. This year, the Duet series 2-in-1 convertibles were moved to a different lineup, Meet the new Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i! This new model empoys the same form factor of the 2021 YOGA Duet, but its internals have been upgraded to 2022 standard. Lenovo has also adapted some necessary changes to make the new product more affordable.
Design and build
Inside the box I have found an IdeaPad 5i tablet, a magnetic keyboard cover, as well as a 65W portable power adapter. Unlike Microsoft, which always sells the keyboard of their Surface Pro tablets separately, Lenovo chooses to include the keyboard in the retail package of their 2-in-1 convertibles. However, the pressure-sensitive pen is not included in the box, you will have to pay extra if you need it. Fortunately, Lenovo’s pen, which is based on the Wacom technology, is much cheaper than an Apple Pencil. There are also many cheaper 3rd-party pens compatible with this 2-in-1.
The IdeaPad Duet 5i looks a lot smaller than last year’s YOGA Duet 7, since its screen has been trimmed down from 13.3 inches to 12.3 inches, and its bezels are also narrower. The storm grey finish isn’t anything we haven’t seen yet, but still has a lingering charm to it. The rounded edges make it more comfortable to hold for a long period of time, compared to the flat sides and sharper corners of last year’s YOGA Duet 7.
On the front you will find a 5MP camera, which supports Windows Hello facial recognition. In my 2 week’s tests, the recognition rate was very high. But personally, I still prefer fingerprint unlock, which the IdeaPad Duet 5i doesn’t offer.
The slate has two multi-function Type-C ports, both are hosted on the left side. They both support Power Delivery 3.0 up to 65 watts, and video output up to [email protected] Those Type-C ports are obviously no match for the dual Thunderbolt 4 ports on the Surface Pro 8, but for average consumers, it won’t really make much difference. As Thunderbolt certified hubs are extremely expensive, most of us are only using normal USB-C hubs on them. Also, not many people who buy an ultra slim laptop will want to get a bulky external graphics card enclosure.
The 3.5mm headphone jack can be found on the right side, along with the power button and volume rocker. The IdeaPad Duet 5i also comes with dual speakers, which are Dolby Atmos certified.
The 5-pin magenetic keyboard connector is on the bottom side.
The entire system is actively cooled, and we can see lots of vents on the top side.
The kickstand looks very similar to the one on the Microsoft Surface Pro series. It can open up to 150 degrees, making drawing and taking handwritten notes with a stylus more convenient.
The keyboard cover is very thin, but the keys still have decent travel and the right amount of tactile feedback.
The touchpad is quite large for such a small keyboard, so you have plenty of area to use all kinds of gestures. However, the keyboard won’t tilt up for a more comfortable typing angle like the Surface Type Cover does.
The back of the keyboard is fabric, which obviously looks stunning, but can get dirty easily if you are a reckless user. I have been very careful with my Lenovo YOGA Duet 7, so its keyboard is still quite clean after more than a year.
What’s special about the keyboard of the IdeaPad Duet 5i is that it has a battery inside and can connect to the tablet, or any other device via Bluetooth when it’s detached. As a result, the Duet 5i is more versatile than its competitors, and can fit into more scenarios. There are also 3 levels of backlighting, which can be turned on even when the keyboard is separated from the tablet.
Display and sound
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i sports a 12.4-inch IPS panel, with resolution of 2560*1600, and pixel density of 243 PPI. The screen also has 96% DIC-P3 color space, and supports Dolby Vision, so images look vivid and true to life, and movies, especially those with the Dolby Vision codec, have a stunning cinematic appeal to them. Unfortunately, the refresh rate is still only 60Hz, which is disappointing considering that Microsoft has already upgraded the Surface Pro 8 with a 120Hz display.
The brightness of the IdeaPad Duet 5i’s screen can emit up to 450 nits of brightness, making it even visible outdoors.
The capacitive touchscreen is also compatible with Lenovo’s active pen, which supports 4096 levels of pressure. Lenovo didn’t reveal the exact number in regard to how responsive the pen is, so I assume the latency should be more than the Galaxy Pen and Apple Pencil’s 9ms. Still, drawing and writing with the pen still feels instantaneous enough for average consumers like myself.
The IdeaPad Duet 5i houses its speakers on the two sides. Even though these speakers are Dolby Atmos certified, the audio coming from them is still not mind-blowing, even by tablet standards. In terms of volume, they are in many ways comparable with the dual speakers on my Xiaomi 12 Pro smartphone. can be easily blown away by the quad JBL speakers on my Lenovo Xiaoxin Pad Pro 2021 (also known as the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro 2021).
In terms of quality, there is a decent amount of bass, so the Duet 5i doesn’t sound too tinny or flat, and I didn’t really hear any significant distortion while the speakers are set to maximum volume. They are generally okay for YouTube Content and casual gaming in a quiet room, but for music and movies, I am still much more comfortable with headphones and external speakers.