Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i review: Surface Pro on a budget?


Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i

msrp $790.00

“The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i loses the luster of other 2-in-1s but has the raw value to fight back.”

pros

  • solid build quality

  • thin and light

  • Superb performance

  • nice folio keyboard

  • competent performance

Shortcoming

  • keyboard is flat

  • Limited performance by low-end CPU

  • the colors are wrong

Lenovo’s IdeaPad Duet 5i was just introduced as another detachable tablet competitor, going up against the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 that were released recently. hook? It also comes at a lower price than Dell and Microsoft.

The IdeaPad Duet 5i offers enough value, features, and performance to be worthy of a look, especially if you’re attracted to the form factor.

specs and configuration

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i
Dimensions 11.35 Inch x 7.49 Inch x 0.37 Inch
weight 1.85 pounds
2.62 pounds with folio keyboard
processor up to Core i7-1255U
graphics Up to Intel Iris Xe
to hit up to 16GB LPDDR4x
show 12.4-inch 16:10 2.5K (2560 x 1600) IPS
storage up to 512GB PCIe SSD
Touch Yes
ports 2 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1
1 x 3.5mm Audio Jack
wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1
webcam 5MP Front-facing with IR Camera for Windows 11 Hello
5MP rear-facing
Operating System windows 11
battery 50 watt-hours
worth $790+

Lenovo is yet to publish more details on the pricing and configuration of the IdeaPad Duet 5i. Right now, there’s only one configuration available for $790 for a Core i3-1215U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD. That price includes the detachable keyboard, but not an active pen, which is another $30 or so. It’s an attractive price, but storage is quite limited. It is unfortunate that there is no option for more.

In comparison, the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is $1,000 for the same RAM and storage and a Core i5 CPU without the $280 keyboard and pen, while the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is $1,000 for the Core i5, the same RAM and 512GB. 1,200. of storage, with a keyboard and pen. That makes the Lenovo a lot less expensive in this minimal configuration, but we’ll have to see that before assuming that the IdeaPad Duet 5i is price-competitive with more powerful components.

A functional design that doesn’t stand out

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i front angle view showing the display and keyboard.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The IdeaPad Duet 5i sports a standard slate design with rounded corners and large display bezels, which we’ve seen recently on competing detachable tablets like the XPS 13 2-in-1 and the Surface Pro 9. It’s more rounded than Dell’s tablet and thus more closely spaced. It looks like Microsoft’s, and it’s well-built both with its magnesium-aluminum frame that resists bending and twisting. Like most tablets, not much effort has been made to create exceptional aesthetics, and the Stone Blue or Storm Gray IdeaPad Duet 5i is neither better nor worse in this regard.

Where the IdeaPad Duet 5i most closely mimics the Surface Pro 9, and in a good way, is with its sturdy integrated kickstand. Just like with Microsoft’s tablet, the built-in kickstand lever juts out from the center of the tablet’s back, offering a wide range of angles. Because it’s built-in, the IdeaPad’s kickstand is available when using the tablet alone, unlike the add-on Dell Folio with its three angles. This is a big plus and makes the IdeaPad a more comfortable tablet than the XPS 13 2-in-1.

The IdeaPad Duet 5i is a thin tablet at 0.37 inches, which is thicker than the XPS 13 2-in-1 and almost the same as the Surface Pro 9. Its weight is 1.85 pounds, which again splits the difference between those two competitors, and this one is 2.62 pounds. With attached folio keyboard. Its display bezels are a bit thick, which makes it a bit wider and taller. It’s a well-sized tablet all around and is highly portable.

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i top down view showing the folio keyboard.
Mark Coppock? digital trends

On the other hand, the IdeaPad’s detachable keyboard has the same limitation as the Dell Folio: It doesn’t slide forward at an angle. It’s a well-built keyboard with the same light, fast switches you’ll find on other Lenovo laptops, but because it’s only flat, it’s not as comfortable for long typing sessions as Microsoft’s angled Type Cover. Touchpad is fine, on par with the competition. The cloth covering of the keyboard’s exterior is a nice touch that makes the combination comfortable to hold.

Connectivity is limited, as always, with just two USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 ports and no Thunderbolt 4. This sets it behind the XPS 13 2-in-1 and the Surface Pro 9. Wireless connectivity is up to date, though, with the Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1.

Video conferencing is improved by the high-resolution 5MP webcam on the front and 5MP webcam on the back, and the infrared camera offers support for Windows 11 Hello passwordless login via facial recognition. Lenovo includes intelligent sensing privacy features that enable Zero-Touch Lock that turns off the display and puts the tablet to sleep when the user walks away and Zero-Touch Login that wakes the tablet and Logs the user back in. The features worked well during my testing, so much so that I had to turn them off to do my battery tests.

surprisingly good performance

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i side view showing the port and kickstand.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The IdeaPad Duet 5i I reviewed was built around a 15-watt Intel Core i3-1215U with six cores (two performance and four efficient) and eight threads. This is the first laptop we’ve tested with this chip, so I was interested to see how it would perform.

Surprisingly, it held its own in our benchmark suite, especially compared to the 9-watt Core i5-1230U in the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and the 15-watt Core i7-1255U in the Microsoft Surface Pro 9. They’re both 10-core (two performance and eight efficient), 12-thread CPUs, and Lenovo punches above its weight class. It also beat the XPS 13 2-in-1 in Cinebench R23. The Lenovo thermal management utility was effective, with better scores in Performance mode and especially in our Handbrake test which encodes a 420MB video as H.265. The IdeaPad has a fan that spins under heavy load, but it’s quiet and unobtrusive.

There’s no doubt that this is a productivity-only laptop, suitable for web browsing, email, Microsoft Office applications and the like. You won’t be editing photos or videos on this tablet. But for intended uses, the IdeaPad Duet 5i performed surprisingly well. Of course, gaming is out of the question with the Intel UHD integrated graphics in my review unit. Asus ROG Flow Z13 is the best option if you want a Windows gaming tablet.

geekbench
(single / multiple)
handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23
(single / multiple)
pcmark 10
Complete
Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i
(Core i3-1215U)
Child: 1,513 / 5,676
Perfect: 1,515 / 5,970
Force: 251
Execution: 181
Child: 1,488 / 4,087
Perfect: 1,582 / 4,842
4,578
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 9315
(Core i5-1230U)
Child: 1,435 / 6,099
Perfect: 1,572 / 7,028
Strength: 139
Execution: 144
Child: 1,064 / 3,032
Perfect: 1,065 / 3009
4,535
surface pro 9
(Core i7-1255U)
Child: 1170/6518
Perfect: 1,598 / 8,165
Strength: 166
Execution: 127
Child: 1124/7537
Execution: NA
4,045
HP Specter x360 13.5
(Core i7-1255U)
Child: 1,566 / 7,314
Perfect: 1,593 / 7921
Strength: 169
Execution: 120
Child: 1,623 / 5,823
Perfect: 1,691 / 7,832
5,203
Asus ROG Flow Z13
(Core i9-12900H)
Child: 1,784 / 9,387
Execution: NA
Force: 103
Execution: 87
Child: 1,548 / 9,664
Perfect: 1,906 / 13,400
6,417

So, did battery life move along? The Core i3-1215U is a 15-watt part, so it’s not the most power-sipping available, but it has fewer cores and likely runs more efficiently. Inside is a 50 watt-hour battery, which is typical for the class. The Surface Pro 9 has 60 watt-hours and a 15-watt CPU, and the XPS 13 2-in-1 has 49.5 watt-hours and a 9-watt CPU.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i side view showing the kickstand and ports.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The IdeaPad Duet 5i performed well in our battery tests. It lasted longer than the XPS 13 2-in-1 and did roughly the same as the Surface Pro 9 in our web browsing test. Overall, these results hint at a tablet that can get through a full day of light productivity work. As always, the Apple MacBook Air M2 was the longevity leader.

Web browsing Video PCMark 10 Application
Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i
(Core i3-1215U)
7 hours 55 minutes 10 hours 42 minutes 9 hours 17 minutes
Microsoft Surface Pro 9
(Core i7-1255U)
8 hours 8 minutes Not Applicable Not Applicable
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
(Core i5-1230U)
5 hours 55 minutes 8 hours 25 minutes Not Applicable
asus zenbook s13 flip
(Core i7-1260P)
8 hours 38 minutes 13 hours 16 minutes 11 hours 18 minutes
hp envy x360 13 2022
(Core i7-1250U)
9 hours 30 minutes 14 hours 34 minutes 12 hours 48 minutes
apple macbook air m2
(Apple M2)
17 hours 59 minutes 21 hours 9 minutes Not Applicable

A bright and colorful display, but its accuracy suffers

Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i showing the front angle view display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

A good display is key to the best tablet experience, and the IdeaPad Due 5i has a competitive IPS panel. It’s 12.4 inches running at 2560 x 1600, which makes it plenty sharp, and its 16:10 aspect ratio is slightly taller and better for inking. The Surface Pro 9 and XPS 13 2-in-1 both have an aspect ratio of 3:2, which is optimal for inking, closely replicating a physical sheet of paper.

Most impressive about the display is its brightness, which comes in at just 600 nits. It’s incredibly bright and outperforms tablets from Microsoft and Dell. The IdeaPad Duet 5i has wider colors and excellent contrast than either of them. Where it falls down is in color accuracy, which isn’t great. It’s an excellent performer for productivity work and media consumption, especially considering its Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) video support. However, its inaccurate colors hold it back for the creators.

flash
(nits)
gap sRGB gamut adobe rgb gamut accuracy delta e
(lower is better)
Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i
(IPS)
605 1,670:1 100% 90% 2.99
Microsoft Surface Pro 9
(IPS)
409 1,050:1 99% 80% 1.24
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
(IPS)
480 1,840:1 99% 78% 0.8
asus zenbook s13 flip
(OLED)
337 23,590:1 100% 97% 1.02
hp envy x360 13
(OLED)
391 29,420:1 100% 98% 0.72

Two side-firing speakers provide sound, and they put out acceptable audio that’s roughly on par with the Surface Pro 9 and the XPS 13 2-in-1. Notably, Apple’s iPad Pro tablet has quad speakers and audio that is much better.

A capable tablet with an almost attractive price tag

The IdeaPad Duet 5i is priced attractively at $790, which includes its folio keyboard. This makes it significantly less expensive than the Surface Pro 9 and XPS 13 2-in-1. The downside is the budget price the budget components bring, which includes a slow Core i3 CPU, the slowest Intel UHD graphics, and only 128GB of storage. Dell offers four times as much storage in its entry-level configuration, and yet, you can’t upgrade if you want to. And we have no idea how much the IdeaPad will cost with higher-end components.

So, this makes it a solid choice in terms of the configure and price I’m reviewing. As such, if you want a tablet that offers a bright and colorful display, solid inking and touch support, capable performance and battery life, and a comfortable kickstand, the IdeaPad Duet 5i is an attractive option.

Editors’ Recommendations






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