But instead of an Android tablet, I got a Chromebook.
My go-to Android tablet for the last five years has been the Xiaomi Mi Pad 3. Even though Xiaomi’s significantly modified MIUI Android ROM left me wanting more, it was still a good choice for me. Despite the fact that my Mi Pad 3 is fully functional and even works well, it no longer receives Android upgrades, thus I couldn’t use Google Chrome on it. This was a deal breaker for me, so I set out to buy a new Android tablet over the Memorial Day weekend to replace my Chromebook. However, things took an unexpected turn in the direction of my search.
I reduced my search to Lenovo or Nokia tablets since I wanted the most stock Android experience possible after looking at all of the available discounts on the best Android tablets.
The Nokia T20 caught my eye because of its expandable internal storage via microSD card, and the Lenovo Tab P11 and Lenovo Yoga Tab 13 were my top mid-range recommendations for those in the same price bracket. The Yoga Tab 13’s ability to serve as a portable monitor seemed enticing, but the tablet’s form factor turned me away, so I settled on the Tab P11.
Ads for the Chromebook Duet 3 convinced me to switch from Android tablets to Chromebooks after I had previously left various devices in my shopping basket and nearly clicked “continue to checkout” countless times.
Making the switch from Android to Chrome OS
If I had to choose between a Chrome OS tablet and an Android tablet, this was not the first time I had pondered doing so. I nearly bought the Lenovo 10e Chromebook tablet for $99 last year when it was on sale. My decision to purchase this phone was held back by its MediaTek processor, glossy display, and hefty size.
For good cause, Lenovo’s Duet Chromebook was a top seller throughout the pandemic. With 4GB of RAM, a 10.1 touchscreen, and a keyboard and case included that doubled as a stand, many customers found it to be the ideal work-from-home laptop. With a higher-resolution display, a taller 5:3 aspect ratio, and a second-generation fanless Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c processor in its Chromebook Duet 3 this year, Lenovo has made a worthy upgrade to its predecessor.
Even though I intend to use the Chromebook Duet 3 mostly as a tablet, the detachable keyboard is still a useful feature, especially when entering passwords or working with Google Docs. Watching TV shows or YouTube videos is made even easier by the magnetic case that has a built-in stand.
After taxes, I was able to get the Duet 3 for $281 on Memorial Day, even though it’s normally $359. Even though Lenovo’s Memorial Day sale has ended, the discounted price of $294 is still available.
Choosing a Chromebook as a tablet instead of a top-of-the-line tablet was a no-brainer for me because updates and convenience were the two most significant considerations.
OS and security updates straight from Google
Your Android tablet’s manufacturer is responsible for sending software upgrades, unlike with Chromebooks. This ensures that newer versions of Android are fully compatible with the software that is already installed on a device. It also means that updates will be delayed, if at all possible. Even my old Xiaomi tablet didn’t get a single software upgrade while I had it.
Samsung is currently leading the pack when it comes to Android tablet updates. Korea’s largest electronics manufacturer has stated that its new tablet models will receive four years of Android platform updates and five years of security patches. For the T20 tablet, Nokia guarantees two years of Android updates and three years of monthly security updates.
However, for security-conscious people like myself, it’s still not adequate, especially if you plan to use your tablet for both leisure and work..
Chrome OS is a different situation, as Google disclosed in a blog post(opens in new tab) back in 2020 that most new Chromebooks will now get up to eight years of updates.
Another difference between Chrome OS and Android is that updates are automatically sent and installed. You don’t need to actively check for updates in the settings because they are deployed automatically when you restart your device.
Web apps or Android apps – take your pick
When Chromebooks initially appeared on the market in 2011, they could only be used with Google Chrome. Google, on the other hand, has expanded support for the Play Store and even made it easier to run Linux distros and Linux applications in the years since.
You can now choose between a far greater variety of software on Chromebooks and Android tablets, making the decision to buy a Chromebook less difficult than it formerly was. Even if you’re using a Chromebook, keep in mind that not all Android apps are compatible with it.
When you have many copies of the same program installed, it might be a pain. For example, I installed the Android version of the Google News app on my Duet 3 despite the fact that the online version was pre-installed. Because of this, it took me a while to figure out the difference between the two. Even though the web app was eventually terminated, I kept the Android app running. As a result, I had to go into the app’s settings to have articles open in the app instead of Chrome. This wasn’t an ideal solution.
Chrome flags to the rescue
Up until last year, Chrome OS was upgraded every six weeks by Google. With Google’s new 4-week update schedule, you’ll be able to take advantage of new features even sooner. However, enabling experimental flags will allow you to try out the newest features being developed by the Chrome OS team.
To enable experimental features, go to chrome:/flags in your browser (this works in the Chrome browser on other platforms as well). All the experimental features currently available in Chrome OS are listed here, along with a warning. There’s a search box at the top to make it simpler to find what you’re searching for, but you may also manually search the flags.
For me, I was looking for a way to order the apps in the launcher alphabetically such that they resembled Android’s app drawer in terms of how they appear. In spite of the displeasure of Chromebook owners, there is presently no official way to achieve this. There is a Google Search bar and a notification for recently opened files at the top of the new Chrome OS launcher, which is a welcome change.
It only took a restart of my Duet 3 when I clicked enable on the right to use the new app launcher. I also activated a new experiment called monthly calendar view in the app launcher, which displays the date next to the time.
A tablet I can use for years to come
My tablet will continue to receive upgrades until June of 2029, despite the odd oddity here and there. I’m quite delighted with my purchase. If iFixit’s disassembly of its predecessor(opens in new tab) is any indication, I should be able to replace the battery on my own. But in the meanwhile, I’ll be able to access my security cameras and monitors using an outdated Mi Pad 3.
Chrome OS tablets may be a viable option if you don’t want to make the jump to iPadOS with one of the best iPads and are concerned that even one of the best Android tablets won’t be updated regularly enough.