Lenovo ideapad Miix 310 Review: Last of the Atoms

by Reads (33,375)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Software & Support
      • 7
      • Upgrade Capabilities
      • 6
      • Usability
      • 4
      • Design
      • 6
      • Performance
      • 6
      • Features
      • 6
      • Price/Value Rating
      • 6
      • Total Score:
      • 5.86
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Decent performance
    • Solid build quality
    • Excellent battery life
  • Cons

    • Awkward keyboard
    • Useless speakers
    • Display a smudge magnet, not very bright

Quick Take

This budget 2-in-1 has decent performance and build quality, and an excellent battery life. It's great for casual use, but the Lenovo ideapad Miix 310's keyboard is a deal breaker for those looking for a productivity machine.


It’s a rare thing these days, the Atom-powered PC. It was so ubiquitous during the pre-iPad netbook boom, and again with Windows 8 and Bay Trail, it’s odd to consider. It’s also a shame. While the current crop of Windows 10 convertibles takes its cues from the Surface Pro 4 or ultra-thin Galaxy TabPro S, there’s a dearth of moderately-powered and affordable devices.

Lenovo ideapad Miix 310 review unit

The Lenovo ideapad Miix 310 is an Atom-powered 2-in-1.

With the Surface 3 on the way out, and Intel (maybe) abandoning the Atom line, that leaves Lenovo’s ideapad Miix 310 as one of the few new to the market, and maybe the last. So, is it any good? Read this Lenovo ideapad Miix 310 review to find out.

Build & Design

It’s a 2-in-1. Instead of the 360-degree hinge design Lenovo popularized with the Yoga series, the ideapad Miix 310 is a detachable tablet and keyboard combo. Unlike the Surface Pro and Core m 2-in-1s, these two elements combine to form a traditional clamshell notebook.

The tablet measures 9.68 x 6.81 x .36 inches, and weighs about 1.28 pounds. The keyboard dock almost double the thickness to .71 inches, and brings the total weight to 2.43 pounds. By any reasonable measure, it’s thin and light. You’ll have no trouble bringing it to and from class or the office, or finding room for it in a carry-on bag. The tablet’s back panel is slightly larger and the display, resulting in sloped and slightly concave edges. More tablets should do this as it makes the tablet easier to grip and secure with one hand.

The Lenovo ideapad Miix 310 has a solid build for a budget device.

The Lenovo ideapad Miix 310 has a solid build for a budget device.

The Miix 310 is gray with black trim, and it looks professional. The textured lid is great at shrugging off fingerprints and smudges, and the tablet and keyboard combo is sturdy. It will survive the rigors of daily use, as well as jostling around travel bags and backpacks just fine.

The area around the keyboard and touchpad is smudge and fingerprint prone, but that’s a minor complaint in an otherwise solid base. It’s heavier than similar units we’ve tested in the past, and it grounds the Miix 310 nicely. Too many detachables have a light keyboard base, resulting in a top heavy device prone to tipping.

Ports & Inputs

The ideapad Miix 310 has a decent port selection, mostly in line with other budget devices. The tablet portion has a Micro HDMI output, microUSB 2.0, a DC-in for charging, and microSD card slot in a pin-release tray, all on the tablet’s right side, next to the volume rocker and power button. The tray also has room for a micro SIM card, but this is likely reserved for overseas models (it was not active in our review unit). The left side only has a 3.5mm audio combo jack.

The bottom features a smart connector for the keyboard, along with two notches for securing it. The keyboard brings two additional full-sized USB 2.0 ports.

ideapad miix 310 side

The Lenovo ideapaid Miix 310 has a robust port selection.

ideapad miix 310 side2

The Miix 310 doesn’t have a USB Type-C input, which is expected, it should have at least USB 3.0.

It’s a decent selection, but while we don’t expect USB Type-C on a budget device like the Miix 310, USB 3.0 is missed. We also didn’t care for the DC-in. It was very snug on our Lenovo ideapad Miix 310 review unit, and it took significant force to insert and remove. We worry it may wear down over time, making it difficult to charge.

The ideapad Miix 310's keyboard latch is magnetic and sturdy.

The ideapad Miix 310’s keyboard latch is magnetic and sturdy.

On the other hand, the keyboard attaches very easily and securely. Lenovo opted for magnets instead of a latch, which similar budget devices employ. This results in a keyboard that’s easy to attach and remove, even without looking. Pick up the Miix 310 by the keyboard and there’s no danger of the tablet spilling off, even when upside down or sideways.

Display

The ideapad Miix has a 10.1-inch display with a 1280 x 800 resolution, resulting in a cinematic 16:10 aspect ratio and about 150 pixels per inch. It supports up to 10 touch points. This is par for budget tablets and 2-in-1s, but low considering the pixel-packed state of modern display tech, which tops out at around 300 ppi for PCs, and 500+ for smartphones. The Surface 3, which still is the class of this segment after more than a year on the market, has about 213 pixels per inch and a 3:2 aspect ratio.

Still, a mediocre display in 2016 is still plenty pretty. That is to say the colors are vibrant, and it’s sharp enough for Windows 10 and comfortable media streaming. But it’s also overly reflective, not particularly bright, and a smudge magnet. These three qualities combine to make the Miix 310 very tough to see in direct sunlight or with overhead glare.

Speakers & Camera

The ideapad Miix 310 has two cameras on board, a 2-megapixel front camera, and a 5-megapixel rear camera. Both are fine for video chat, and not much more. The fact that Lenovo included two cameras is laudable, as many budget devices just have a front-facing shooter.

The speakers are located on both short edges. The pair on our Lenovo ideapad Miix 310 review unit were some of the weakest we’ve tested to date. In fact, some smartphones are better. Most tablet and notebook speakers are also lousy, but still adequate for personal use. These aren’t even that. They are too weak. You’ll have trouble even hearing dialogue.

The audio is much better over headphones. Those without earbuds will be better off with closed captioning.

Keyboard

Lenovo ideapad Miix 310 review unit keyboard

The Lenovo ideapad Miix 310 keyboard is its biggest liability.

The keyboard has 69 island-style keys with about .1 inches between them. The QWERTY keys measure about .6 x .6 inches, and sport the familiar Lenovo style, complete with rounded bottom. Key travel tops out at just under 1.3mm, which is the minimum we prefer, and they have decent snap.

The keyboard spans edge to edge, and it’s cramped given the Miix 310’s small footprint. The number keys are triple function, and slightly smaller than the letters, while the Delete and Backspace keys are similarly sized and placed next to one another instead of stacked. The left shift key is also slightly smaller than the right, as are the punctuation keys. 

The odd key sizes make for an awkward typing experience. In testing, the punctuation keys presented the most consistent problems, and the touchpad messed things up often. Accidental palm presses on its corners were common, moving the cursor in the middle of typing.

That same one-piece touchpad measures 3.3 x 2 inches. When not messing with typing, it does an adequate job.

Performance

The ideapad Miix 310 ships with an Intel Atom X5 Z8350 processor and 2GB of DDR3L RAM. This particular Atom chip launched in early 2016 as part of Intel’s 5th-generation Cherry Trail offerings, and it may be the last in the Atom lineup.

Those with long memories of sputtering netbooks barely running Windows 7 will be happy to know the Atom/Windows combo came into its own with the Bay Trail chips and Windows 8.1. And it’s improved in the two years since, thanks to Windows 10’s lightweight stability.

The Miix 310 keeps its 64-bit Windows 10 Home running well. It’s suited for light to moderate work. Browsing in Chrome is no problem, provided you limit open tabs. The bundled Windows apps run decently too, like OneNote. We recommend sticking with Google Docs/Sheets/Slides, or Office Online or 365 over the full downloadable suite for productivity.

Video editing will be an exercise in frustration, but the Miix 310 can handle light photo editing, mostly with free and web-based programs. Gaming is extremely limited, with the Miix 310 adequately running older titles like Portal and 8-bit inspired indie darlings like Shovel Knight.

The 2GB RAM is what really holds the 310 back. That’s right at the absolute minimum for a decent computing experience.

Our Lenovo ideapad Miix 310 review unit had the following configuration:

  • 10.1-inch touch display (1,280×800 resolution)
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Intel Atom X5 Z8350 quad-core processor (2M Cache, up to 1.92 GHz)
  • Intel HD graphics
  • 2GB LPDDR3 RAM (non-upgradeable)
  • 64 GB eMMC storage
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Internal Bluetooth 4.0
  • Micro HDMI, microSD card reader, audio combo jack, micro USB 2.0, 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2-megapixel front camera, 5-megapixel rear
  • Dimensions: 9.68 x 6.81 x 0.71 (tablet/keyboard combo)
  • Weight: 2.43 pounds
  • Price: $299.99

Benchmarks

wPrime processor comparison results (listed in seconds – lower scores mean better performance):wprinme

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
pcmark8home

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance for a variety of general and complex office productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
pcmark8work

3DMark11 measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):

3dmark11

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:
miix310cdmark

Battery

Lenovo promises all-day battery life from the ideapad Miix 310 and it’s not kidding. Our Lenovo ideapad Miix 310 review unit lasted 7 hours and 3 minutes in the strenuous Powermark Balanced test. This represents near the minimum you can expect from the device, and many flagship products struggle to hit 4 hours on the same test.

Part of this is due to the low resolution display, and part of this is due to the power-sipping Atom processor. Typically, you can have a knockout panel and blazing-fast processor, or a day-long battery. But you can’t have both. Since the Miix 310 display and performance are both good enough, it’s a worthwhile tradeoff.

powermark

Value

The ideapad Miix 310 costs $300 as of this writing. Two other Atom-powered 2-in-1s, the Acer Aspire Switch 10 E and HP Pavilion x2, are $250, again as of this writing, discounted from $280 and $300, respectively. The Surface 3 remains the pinnacle of this market, and it starts at $499.

It’s likely Lenovo will discount the Miix 310 sooner or later. Still, $250 to $300 is a fair price for this level of performance. You’ll always find compromises at the low end of the market, and with the Miix 310 those are the awkward keyboard, lousy speakers, and mediocre display.

Those considering the Miix 310 or any other budget 2-in-1 are encouraged to consider a Chromebook. Chrome OS is very light, and it runs great on lower-powered hardware. Excellent Chromebooks are available for around the same price as the Miix 310, and with Android app support, are more useful than ever.

Conclusion

Lenovo ideapad Miix 310

Our Lenovo ideapad Miix 310 review unit

There’s no such thing as the perfect Atom device. They all have flaws. The combination of specific flaws and price is what makes or breaks things.

With the Lenovo ideapad Miix 310, we dismiss the display issues because the screen is still good enough. The speakers are useless, but our stock advice is to never make a notebook buying decision based on speaker quality alone. The awkward keyboard is the most damning, however. It’s just plain frustrating to use, and it will bog down typing speeds.

On the plus side, the Miix 310 has decent performance and build quality, and an outstanding battery life. Those are three of the more important features to get right.

So depending on your needs, this could be the right Windows 10 two-in-one. Consider it if you want something secondary for very light work, but primarily media streaming and internet browsing. Avoid it if you’re looking for a secondary work machine to lug between classes or the office and home.

Pros:

  • Decent performance
  • Solid build quality
  • Excellent battery life

Cons:

  • Awkward keyboard
  • Useless speakers
  • Display a smudge magnet, not very bright

 



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