Lenovo should've used ChromeOS instead of Windows with its latest hybrid device

The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid in Android tablet form with the keyboard next to it.
(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)
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Beyond the Alphabet is a weekly column that focuses on the tech world both inside and out of the confines of Mountain View.

Every year, we're immediately inundated (and overwhelmed) with a slew of announcements that come courtesy of CES. Of the hundreds of announcements and device showcases, only a small number of them ever make it to the market. Usually, I try not to get my hopes up about the different products that are shown off, as I don't want to be let down when it's later revealed to be just a prototype.

However, Lenovo has been bucking that trend in recent years, and while there are a few things I'm looking forward to, there is one device that sticks out from the crowd. Lenovo introduced the ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid, basically giving you a tablet with a detachable laptop keyboard. But, there's more to the story, as not only is this device running Android, but it's ALSO running Windows.

A close-up of the magnetic attachment tool on the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

I mean, talk about the ultimate 2-in-1, giving you flexibility that you truly won't find anywhere else. This is achieved by integrating the Android hardware into the display, with all of the Windows hardware built into the keyboard deck. You can read more about it in our hands-on, but being able to switch between Android and Windows with the push of a button is just insane.

Of course, this got me thinking about how cool something like this would be to have for Android and ChromeOS. Yes, you can install Android apps on Chromebooks, but going the other way, many Android phones and tablets don't have a desktop-like experience. The obvious exception to this is the various Samsung phones and tablets that let you switch over to DeX mode when connected to an external display. Google is working on a similar experience, and who knows when, or even if, it'll ever actually show up. However, a feature like DeX makes an even more compelling argument for a device like this running Android.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra in DeX Mode on desk

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

Using an Android tablet isn't all that much of an issue if you have one with a smaller screen, similar to like what the Galaxy Tab A7 offers. But, it's a completely different story once you start using a tablet with a larger display, such as the 14.6-inch Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. The Android interface just doesn't adapt very well when it comes to larger devices, leaving a bunch of empty and unused space. 

However, DeX mode offers a desktop interface and frankly looks pretty darn similar to what you'll find on a Chromebook or Windows laptop. Not to mention that tablet mode on a convertible Chromebook ditches the desktop interface altogether, only presenting you with an app drawer view.

The tablet experience on ChromeOS isn't great, even if you get something like the Lenovo Duet 3 or Duet 5. It's even more cumbersome if you have one of the best Chromebooks with a convertible design, as the keyboard gets in the way. The ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid solves the latter issue, as you'll just detach the screen from the keyboard and get a traditional tablet.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 vs Chromebook Duet on desk

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

What keeps blowing my mind is that there are two different sets of internal hardware with this hybrid device from Lenovo. The tablet is powered by the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1, paired with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, and there's even a dedicated battery. When you want to switch over to Windows, you'll enjoy Intel's Core Ultra 7 SoC with 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a discrete GPU.

One of the downsides to this approach is that the specs aren't shared between Windows and Android, which really shouldn't come as much of a surprise. It's two different systems built into a singular hybrid device, but it would've been incredible if somehow you could access files from one system when using the other, without having to switch. Baby steps.

The other downside is the more obvious one — price. Coming as little surprise, you're going to have to pony up some dough, as the ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid will be priced at $1,999 when it hits the market. In the realm of laptops, that's a pretty steep price to pay, but, if you consider that this is both a rock-solid Android tablet AND an impressive Windows laptop, it's not that bad.

The Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid, with the tablet portion sitting on the Universal Easel Stand and the keyboard underneath.

(Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Admittedly, if there was going to be any company that would try and create a similar device, with ChromeOS instead of Windows, it would be Lenovo. I also won't be surprised if this is an avenue that has been explored, but it's probably just too expensive to turn into reality.

If such a device were to land amongst the best Chromebooks, it would probably have to be closer to the $999 mark. Unfortunately, we're probably at least a few years away from that being a viable option, not to mention that this might be just a "one-off" release for Lenovo with no other laptop makers following suit.

Andrew Myrick
Senior Editor - Chromebooks and tablets

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.

  • simbonzo
    this might be just a "one-off" release for Lenovo with no other laptop makers following suit.
    This is my fear- but I disagree that what it needs is ChromeOS. I'm convinced that this concept- Windows and all- has huge potential. It pains me to say it, but nothing other than MacOS competes with Windows for sheer usefulness for a lot of folk.

    I'd like to see the same idea, but a bit smaller, lighter and cheaper.
    And I'd like the marketing department of Lenovo to stop taking whatever substance makes them think that the name Thinkbook Plus Gen 5 Hybrid is somehow going to draw people in.
  • CajunMoses
    This concept will end up in File 13 where it belongs. A few people with money to throw away may choose to throw it away on this camel. The vast majority of device users want something that is seamless and couldn't give a flying flip about being able to switch back and forth between this OS and that one by simply ripping off the display from the keyboard. 🙄 What a wasteful distraction from reality. ChromeOS is seamless and is getting to be an even more seamless way of running apps from multiple OS platforms. Camels belong in Yemen.
  • trunestor
  • taynjack
    The price is a bit out there for many, but seeing that the HP zbook Firefly with similar specs is $2600, but discounted right now to $1229 means anyone who pays that $2,000 price is in government, or is an idiot. I bet the price settles around $1400, and within a year they start popping on the used market for $700-$900. That's where I'll very likely buy one.
  • FifthElement
    Who wants Chrome? I'm an I.T. tech and no one wants Chrome devices? If it's a cheap device, sure but not for a device like this.
  • Windroid 2483
    Wouldn't using ChromeOS instead of Windows defeat the purpose? ChromeOS (the versions with Androud app support) has become Android for large tablets and laptops. So, if the computer had Chrome OS and Android instead of Windows and Android, that would amount to having Android and Android.

    Using ChromeOS insted of Android on the other hand: That I see a case for! That still preserves the computer's nature as an Android tablet and Windows laptop. It would just use an Android flavor which, arguably, is better suited for a laptop-tablet hybrid.