The New Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2
The Tablet 2 is the successor to the original Android-based ThinkPad Tablet, and was one of the launch tablet devices for the touch-oriented Microsoft Windows 8 operating system. The success of the device has led to successor models, the ThinkPad 8 (2013) and both generations of the ThinkPad 10 (2014), also using Windows in place of Android.
The New Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2
The Tablet 2 has a 10.1-inch IPS display with a 16:9 aspect ratio, 400 nits, 500:1 contrast ratio and a resolution of 1,366 by 768. The graphics is powered by the PowerVR SGX545 graphics, that is part of the Intel Atom SoC. The Tablet 2 makes use of multi-touch technology for screen-based input (supporting five-finger gestures). Like the original ThinkPad Tablet, the Tablet 2 has an optional stylus (with digital pen functionality) for precision input, which can be stored in the side of the tablet. Lenovo also released a Bluetooth keyboard that can be carried with the tablet in a folio-style case.
The Tablet 2 has a full-size USB 2.0 port for connecting accessories and another micro-USB 2.0 to be used for charging only (using the built-in adapter, though other micro-USB cables also work). Powered USB devices will not work on the full-size USB port. External displays can be connected using the mini-HDMI port. A headphone/microphone combo jack and a connector for an available docking station for the device, which included three full-size USB ports, separate headphone/microphone jacks, HDMI, Ethernet, and a 20 V power connector for fast charging. The following hardware buttons can be found around the tablet: Windows button, Power button, volume control button, rotation lock switch, reset switch. Models with 3G and 4G cellular data are both available. The Tablet 2 will have Near Field Communications, also known as NFC, built in.
The tablet is also equipped with two cameras. It has an 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash, and is capable of 720p video capture. The front camera is 2.0 megapixels. A mini-HDMI port is included for video output. A noise-canceling microphone is included in order to facilitate video conferencing.
Mark Taormino wrote in a review for Examiner.com, "Windows 8 has been designed to operate on a tablet, and leverage existing Microsoft applications such as Word and Excel. Student complaints abound that the current tablets do not support Word or Excel, so are of limited value in education settings. This is primarily true in higher education where students write many papers, and use spreadsheet software. The standard, like it or not, is Word and Excel. The introduction of a Microsoft operating system that can run on tablets and can support Microsoft applications will have widespread appeal to students."
In its review of the ThinkPad Tablet 2 theNotebook Review wrote, "The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 is fantastic device when used as a casual tablet or business PC for a mobile sales force. The machine looks great, it's light and easy to hold, and the battery lasts all day. Users who simply want to browse the web or run basic productivity applications will be best served by this hybrid tablet, but those users also probably won't need a $740 Windows 8 machine either. The ThinkPad Tablet 2 targets an audience that wants more productivity options that what an iPad or Windows 7 netbook offer. However, with the machine's limited Intel Atom processor and integrated graphics, the device struggles to take full advantage of everything Windows 8 has to offer. Additionally, users who do not opt for the $120 keyboard dock will find the device's productivity greatly hindered."
When Apple's very first iPad hit the scene in 2010, their take on the "modern tablet" was destined to become ubiquitous: a thin, rigid slab of touchable electronics covered by a sheet of shiny Gorilla Glass. Following the iPad's resounding success, Apple (and others) made no apologies for designing their tablets as though they were giant smartphones -- or at the very least, something less than a full-fledged computer.
Say what you will about Microsoft's latest (and arguably not greatest) OS, but Redmond's software gives users back much of the control and utility lost during the shift to Apple's and Google's mobile operating systems. Thankfully, Windows 8 achieves this while simultaneously providing a mostly pleasurable tablet experience, even though they sometimes get in the way of each other.
Although this isn't a review of Windows 8, the OS is a wholly inalienable part of the latest Lenovo tablet experience and what the ThinkPad 2 offers is something Android and iOS have traditionally not: a fully functionally PC experience on your tablet. Let's see how it delivers on that promise.
Apple won't appreciate my perversion of their iPad Mini slogan, but the Lenovo ThinkPad 2 is every inch a ThinkPad. Polarizing as it may be in the consumer world, ThinkPads have long donned an inky-black design with well defined corners and edges. Love or hate it, the ThinkPad 2 tablet lives up to its namesake.
Although the inclusion of Clover Trail silicon holds the ThinkPad 2 back from being a true PC contender, it performs well enough in context to what it is: a fanless, portable tablet. Having two cores and four threads certainly provides some multi-tasking benefits, although I found it interesting that Windows 8 would only show CPU usage as though it were a single core.
Since Windows 8 a multi-headed beast, a hydra of mouse, keyboard and touch support, it's no wonder we see tablets trying to be more than simple slates. Lenovo's latest machine in this vein is the ThinkPad Tablet 2, a 10.1-inch tablet running the full Windows 8.
Give the ThinkPad Tablet 2 a sideways glance while it rests in its dock and you might just think it was a laptop. Actually use it and you'll be somewhat disappointed. Like the Acer Iconia W510, its Intel Atom processor offers Busch league performance in exchange for great battery life. It's also a tad precarious, since the tablet doesn't lock into the dock. Give it a tip and your expensive slate might go tumbling.
And it is expensive. The tablet alone is $729/485, but to get the most out of it, you'll want the Bluetooth keyboard dock, which will cost you an additional $119/80. Then, since the ThinkPad Tablet 2 can't go clamshell like a laptop, a case of some sort is a good idea. Lenovo sells a slick one for $39.99/25. That means you're paying $848/564 for the tablet and keyboard, $888/590 if you spring for the case, too.
A full-sized USB 2.0 port and a microSD slot make sharing media a synch. Both are hidden beneath rubber tabs to keep out dust and give the tablet a seamless appearance.There's also a mini-USB connection that's only for charging.
As a tablet, the ThinkPad Tablet 2 is a attractive and well built, but it rather dependent on pricey accessories to become the complete package. This is a Windows 8 device with all the compatibility Microsoft's OS offers. You'll be wanting that keyboard dock to take advantage of that, which has the unfortunate effect of jacking up the asking price.
Then there's the fact that the tablet doesn't lock into place on the dock. Instead it rests snugly in a slot, which opens with the pull of a latch on the underside of the keyboard. Pairing is absolutely flawless though. Just pull a switch above the escape key and the two are talking in less than a second.
The Bluetooth connection is masterfully executed, but then if you pick up the dock or use it on your lap, there's a good chance the tablet will fall forward. This takes really detracts from the otherwise premium feel of the ThinkPad Tablet 2.
The dock and tablet have a thin relationship. They're a good looking couple, but don't have much of a connection. A firm shake can separate them. For use at a desk, the dock holds the tablet at a less than perfect angle. Though the screen has excellent viewing angles, you'll need to slouch to meet it head on.
At least the case Lenovo sells is handsome. It's faux-leather with a black and red finish that matches the signature ThinkPad keyboard. It has a light magnetic seal to keep it shut, with two slots for holding the tablet and the keyboard dock, but no room for the charger. There is a thin slit on the interior for holding business cards. All in all it's a nice case at a reasonable price, it's just unfortunate the separate tablet and dock design necessitates it.
The ThinkPad Tablet 2 is Bluetooth 4.0 savvy as well as being equipped with a full-size USB port enabling peripheral alternatives. Still, this is a tablet and naturally features a virtual keyboard, but you also get a slim, pressure sensitive Wacom-based stylus that slots into the tablet body. More on this later.
Save your changes and exit BIOS. The tablet will then boot from USB media. After a while, you'll see the PCUnlocker program and it shows you a list of local accounts existing on your ThinkPad Tablet 2.
Opening the door of this fancy detachable reveals a slick, island-style keyboard with a red-accented pointing stick and discrete mouse buttons. There's a ThinkPad logo placed on the right-hand side as well. The detachable hinge is flexible, allowing the keyboard to be positioned flat on a surface or tilted upward by being magnetised to the chin of the tablet. The bezels on the display aren't too thick, but just big enough to fit a fingerprint reader on the right and a webcam toward the top, near an imbedded Lenovo logo.
The Intel UHD 620 graphics card in the X1 Tablet handled Dirt 3 quite well at 74 frames per second, flying by the 30-fps minimum for playability and going slightly over the 71-fps premium-laptop average. Lenovo's tablet also completely crushed the competition on this test. The Latitude netted 42 fps, and the Notebook 9 Pen averaged 47 fps.
I tested Overwatch on this machine, and boy, was it playable. At the tablet's smooth 47 fps, I could accurately snipe fools with my Bluetooth Razer mouse while defending the gates of Adlersbrunn as Hanzo in Junkenstein's Revenge.
The X1 Tablet can run a little warm, but it's nothing too crazy. After the machine streamed a 15-minute HD video, the back of the tablet reached up to 101 degrees Fahrenheit, which is above our 95 degree comfort threshold. Meanwhile, the front of the screen measured up to 96 degrees.