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December 17, 2021
🎄 Good morning! Had a few questions about newsletter sends across the holiday period: I think we’re going until December 23 or so, then taking a little break until New Year, and then back for CES 2022! And The Weekly will be running as normal!
Tablets + ChromeOS? Only when cheap
Lenovo Chromebook Duet rear profile

Chromebooks are popular in a variety of models and specs, and ChromeOS is growing rapidly. But Chrome tablets have been pretty average, inexpensive options.

Now, though, HP and Lenovo are aiming a little higher with tablet Chromebooks that add just a touch of niceness: higher-res screens, better designs, higher prices.

  • Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet was a standout for the price and punch it delivered. 
  • These tablets are much higher spec and gunning for the top-end of town: the iPad Air, iPad Pro, Surface Pro, and so on. 

And, well, unfortunately, they don’t hold up: The Verge gave the HP Chromebook X2 11 a miserable 5.5/10, while the Chromebook Duet 5 earned a 6.5. Why? Other reviews elsewhere were more generous, but most point at the lack of value at MSRP.

  • HP’s Chromebook X2 11 is $600, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 is $500. 
  • Undoubtedly both will get discounted at some point. Apparently, the HP was already down to $370. So it’s hard to know where to draw the line: Of course, HP’s high entry price has to be where you start, and that really opens them up to the competition. The iPad Air, after all, starts at $600.
  • But for under $400 things might be different, though you can’t predict when and where sales will fall.


    • As a tablet, Chrome OS just isn’t there. For all its faults, Android tablets work better, and of course, iPadOS is much more refined.
    • As laptops, with attached keyboards, and desktop interfaces, they do better.
    • Quote: “…when you want to use these tablets as laptops, with their attached keyboards and the Chrome OS desktop interface, the Lenovo pulls ahead easily. Thanks to its larger size, the keyboard is much more comfortable to type on than HP’s. On the other hand, neither design worked very well on my lap, but the HP’s keyboard was particularly frustrating there: it flexed very easily.”
  • “Conversely, the Lenovo’s keyboard was a joy to type on, with excellent spacing, nice travel, and satisfying feedback. It’s the one I chose when it came time to type up this article, and I’d absolutely select it if I had to use a Chromebook for remote schooling. It still works best when it’s on a flat surface, like a desk or table…”
  • And while the Chromebook Duet 5 wins the head-to-head, the tablet form-factor and Chrome OS combo may not be right: “But before you jump on either of these devices, I’d strongly consider if a tablet is the right Chrome OS device to buy at all. For around the same price or even less, you can get a clamshell or 2-in-1 Chromebook that may be a little thicker and heavier but works a lot better and can even be used as a tablet in a pinch.”
  • The older Chromebook Duet is down to $180, by the way, just a little short on CPU power.

🎁 Here are the best holiday gifts you can get in 2021, bundled into gifts under $25/$50/$100 and over $100 (Android Authority).

📸 Sony’s new camera tech, a stacked sensor with multiple layers, promises wider dynamic range, reduced noise (Android Authority).

👉 Xiaomi 12 renders, video leak: Xiaomi could be going smaller (Android Authority).

📺 Xiaomi TV Stick 4K is here and a viable Chromecast with Google TV alternative — but no pricing yet (Android Authority).

📚 Two OnePlus releases: its cheaper OnePlus Buds Z2 earbuds emerged outside of China for the first time, and “Never Settle,” a OnePlus book, of all things, with a title very easy to criticize (Android Authority).

🍎 Apple is reportedly going to make more of its own chips, hiring even more modem chip staff (The Verge).

📉 US Treasury claims DJI assists Chinese surveillance of Uyghurs and blocks investments for it and seven other Chinese companies (The Verge).

💵 Consumer watchdog takes aim at buy now, pay later programs: Afterpay, PayPal, Klarna in the spotlight… (CNBC).

💲 Google makes it easier to spot price drops in Chrome (Engadget).

🔋 Lexus shows off its first electric SUV with a series of flashy photos (Mashable).

🚗 Also, this car just keeps getting plaudits: “the Hyundai Ioniq 5 is the best EV we’ve driven in 2021” (Ars Technica). And one more on EVs: Electric vehicles ask a lot of their tires — here’s why. (Ars Technica).

🚀 Communication issue delays much-anticipated launch of James Webb Space Telescope to Christmas Eve. It’ll need a Christmas miracle to launch on time! (Gizmodo). Also, here’s an AMA with experts working on the project!

🤔 “The last thing you googled is hunting you right now and is approaching fast, what’s chasing you?” (“Restaurants near me,” “Colin Firth”… and for me: CVE-2021-44228, or the Log4Shell vulnerability! (r/askreddit)

Friday Fun
frodo lord of the rings reunion anniversary

It’s the 20th anniversary of the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and accordingly, the cast, joined Stephen Colbert for …a rap video. It’s great! Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom, Hugo Weaving, loads of them are in this.

As Gizmodo points out… how is this possible?

  • Whenever a late-night program or something similar releases a video like this, I can’t help but think of the logistics. Think of all the planning and time that had to be put into getting all these people together. Or, if they aren’t together, just convincing them to be a part of it. For example, imagine being one of Hugo Weaving’s representatives and getting a request from The Late Show that’s like “We’re doing something of a Lord of the Rings reunion sketch for the 20th anniversary. Lots of your costars are doing it. Oh, and we want you to rap in elvish while Andy Serkis plays a flute.” And then he says OK! Just wild.


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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