The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 offers a small and stylish form factor with strong battery life at the expense of mediocre performance.
Sleek and stylish the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 is the perfect piece of eye candy for the gadget lover. Its curved unsymmetrical design allows the Windows 8 convertible notebook tablet to stand out from the monotony, and its thin light frame and long-lasting battery ensures that the device is great for travel. Running on Windows 8 instead of Windows RT the device has access to a cornucopia of applications. However, equipped with only an Intel Atom processor and integrated Power VR graphics; is the device powerful enough to take advantage of its OS? Read the full review to find out.
The real selling point for the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 is its catchy design. The 10-inch tablet offers the same black magnesium alloy coating that is found on other ThinkPad devices. The black textured material is easy to grip and soft to the touch, making the device easy to use and hold. The tablet also provides an unsymmetrical design, with its left side being squared and its right side rounded. The break away from the standard monotonous design is a nice touch, and helps to create a unique aesthetic that is sure to catch the user's eye.
Not only does the ThinkPad Tablet 2 look great, but it's to a pleasure use and travel with thanks to its slim form factor. The device's frame measures 10.34" x 6.48" x 0.39" and weighs in 1.3-lbs. It's light weight and textured material makes the device really easy to grip and hold, especially when using the tablet to read.
Due to the machine's light weight design I was not surprised that it felt a bit fragile. While testing the device it did give when adequate pressure was applied, and there was subsequent rippling on the display. While the ThinkPad Tablet 2 certainly isn't the sturdiest machine; it should hold up to the normal wear and tear of travel (especially if you use the machine's padded carrying case), just don't expect the tablet to survive a fall or serious impact.
Ports and Features
With the ThinkPad Tablet 2 running Windows 8, it's easy to think of the device as a notebook, but it's not, the device is a tablet and it has the limited port selection to prove it. On the left side of the device there is a USB 2.0 and power jack, on the bottom there is a docking connector and mini-HDMI and on the right side there is an auto-rotate button, volume controls, and a mic/headphone jack. Finally the top of the device houses micro-SD card reader and a digital pen. While the selection of ports is somewhat limited, each port is spaced adequately and easy to access. The only noticeable downside about the placement of ports is the location of the USB port, which is on the left side, meaning if users want to connect a USB mouse they will have to wrap the cord around the device.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 also offers a fully functional tablet pen, which is located at the top left side of the device. The pen comes with a full list of features including, a hover tip, pressure modes, and selection buttons. For consumers planning on using the tablet pen, I'd recommend configuring it first, as it greatly increases its accuracy and response. Additionally, configuring to the pen does not affect the accuracy of hand swipes or gestures. The pen (after it's been configured) is responsive and provides a much needed additional control option to the basic touch-based controls.
Similar to the rest of the device, the 10.1-inch display on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 provides a clean clear aesthetic. The IPS HD display offers a 1366 x 768 resolution with crisp color contrast and a sharp picture. Admittedly running anything more than two programs at once will make the display feel crowded due to its limited resolution and screen size, but the ThinkPad Tablet 2 isn't really designed to be hosting a multitude of programs at once. Despite the limited surface area images on the display remain clear and easy to read, making the Tablet 2 perfect for surfing the web or reading a book.
Adding to the display's versatility is its wide viewing angles. The display holds up extremely well no matter what angle the device is viewed from. Lenovo boasts 170 degree viewing angles on the Tablet 2, and while I'm not sure the device views as well from 170 degrees as it does from a straightforward angle, users will still easily be able to view the image with minimal deterioration. The flexible viewing angles are a perfect feature for the ThinkPad Tablet 2, especially when the device is used in tablet mode, as it allows user to be more flexible with how they hold and view the device.
The only noticeable issue with the display is its sensitivity to light. Even in normal lighting conditions the screen has a tendency to reflect images, especially when viewing content with a darker back drop. The reflective display partially negates the wide viewing angles of the tablet, as noticeable image reflections can make it difficult to view the device from extreme angles. Luckily, the reflective surface is only really noticeable when viewing content with a full color black drop (such as black screen during a scene change in a movie); otherwise the reflective surface can be pretty much ignored.
The solid touch-based controls of the display prove to be another high point for the device. The ThinkPad Tablet 2 offers an accurate response for each swipe and gesture with absolutely no lag for inputs. Even more impressive is how sensitive the controls can be at times. While surfing the web I was able to easily highlight small passages of text or click on tiny links with impressive accuracy, which made navigating most sites easy and enjoyable.
Similar to most tablets on the market, the Lenovo ThinkPad Table 2 leaves something to be desired when it comes to sound quality. The tablet houses two speakers, one at the back right-hand side of the chassis and the other the lower left side of the device. Equipped with basic stereo sound quality the tablet manages to provide adequate sound levels for a single users, but the speakers struggle to offer much more than that. While the audio quality is adequate (even when the speakers are pushed to capacity), users will ultimately best served to use the mic/headphone jack instead of the eternal speakers.
Lenovo offers a compact Bluetooth keyboard dock that combines wonderfully with the ThinkPad Tablet 2; but there's a problem, the optional dock costs an additional $120. Truthfully, the keyboard isn't really all that "optional". The Tablet 2 is a Windows 8 device, and in order for users to take full advantage of the programs (such as Microsoft Office) and features that a full-fledged Windows OS device offers, they will need access to a keyboard. While the touch based controls are great, typing on the digital keyboard pales in comparison to the add-on dock.
In terms of quality, the Lenovo keyboard actually holds up. It's a bit compact, but then again it needs to be to form to the small 10-inch frame of the ThinkPad tablet. However, despite its small stature the Chiclet style keyboard, manages to offer all of the keys and functions expected of a full-sized keyboard including Windows 8 shortcuts (combined with the function keys) and three mouse buttons located below the space bar.
The most notable feature of the keyboard is that its wireless, which means users doesn't have to worry about connecting or disconnecting the device from the dock. In fact, the tablet doesn't even have to touch the dock for the keyboard to work. This is huge plus for people who are looking to traverse with the device and want to be able to pack and unpack it quickly. Additionally, typing on the keyboard is quite comfortable too. It may not be as comfortable as an embedded keyboard, but the textured keys and consistent feedback allows users to type with precision and accuracy.
Unfortunately the one thing the keyboard does not offer is a touchpad. The dock does offer an optical isometric Trackpoint joystick which is located above the "B" key. The joystick is a nice addition and it manages to read input quite well, but it's incredibly slow taking as many as three or four swipes to move across the small 10-inch display. The limited range of motion of the joystick restricts its usefulness when scrolling web pages or highlight text. Honestly, it's just far more efficient to use the digital pen or the multi-finger gestures.
While the keyboard offers solid performance, it comes at a pretty penny. Serious users looking to purchase the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 should consider the added price of the $120 keyboard add-on before making a purchase decision.
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