We’ve wrote a lot about Lenovo’s ThinkPad series as a prestigious line of products, intended for serious use by users who know what they’re after. Therefore it’s clear why we’re so excited when we get a newest member of this series, although in a somewhat different shape than it was expected. This time, it was tablet and the second version. The first one, based on Android OS and Tegra 2 platform wasn’t very well-received regardless of the fact that it was focused on the business use. This time, operating system of choice was Windows 8 Pro, and instead of ARM architecture, it was based on Intel’s x86-compatible processor. How good of a combination is that?
Class before everything else
ThinkPad Tablet 2 looks elegant and sophisticated, and that’s only intensified when you’re actually holding it. True to the ThinkPad tradition, the tablet is black, and frame is made of magnesium, coated with nice, matte plastic. This way a level of sturdiness and endurance has been accomplished, and the comfort during use isn’t disrupted by the metallic exterior. It’s nicely balanced, thing and light, so it’s not tiring to hold it in your hands even for a long time.
On the back side, there are Lenovo and ThinkPad logos with the recognizable red dot. There’s also the main high resolution camera with flash, as well as two speakers which are asymmetrically, but functionally placed. On the right side, there are buttons for volume control and screen rotation lock, and next to them is a 3,5 mm headphones output. On the left side there’s a micro USB port for battery charging, and below the lid there’s a full-sized USB port. On the bottom there’s a Docking Station connector and a mini HDMI out.
On the upper side, there’s a power switch, as well as a lid under which there’s a slit for micro SD, and on some models, even a SIM card slot and a digital pen holder. The pen itself isn’t included often, especially a model such as this one, which detects the force of pressure on the screen and enables the use of a cursor even without it touching the screen. Left side, where the pen is located, is covered with glass, matted and slightly curved, enabling excellent grip with just one hand.
Front side’s main feature is the screen which is really good. With resolution little over 720p it has smaller point than the competition, but also the possibility of displaying two applications at the same time – this option doesn’t work in lower resolutions. As was to be expected, there’s ambient lighting sensor, and the display is bright, sharp with excellent contrasts, good color reproduction and without changes even at a large viewing angle. Above the screen is a camera, which has enough resolution for video conference and gives a decent image even under bad light. Below the screen there’s a hardware Windows button which always leads to main menu with application listing.
Windows 8 Pro provides a very recognizable user interface, which didn’t have too many changes on ThinkPad Tablet 2. All of the standard functions are there, starting with integration with live services, over tiles that display weather forecast, calendar events, incoming mail, etc. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with the Office package; it has to be bought separately. In case you’re integrating with Sky Drive cloud storage, there’s the option of using Office Web for free, a package without too many options, but will still help you a lot during work.
Lenovo has its own application package with several pre-installed programs which deal with tablet maintenance, easy modifications, regular updates, etc. Renowned programs that come in the package are Norton Security, Skype, Kindle and Evernote for synchronization of notes on various platforms. QuickSnip is a small program which works great with a digital pen. There’s a button on the pen, which enables the screenshoting of the screen, and after that you can perform basic modifications, such as cropping, in the QuickSnip program. As is the custom with Windows 8 tablets, scrolling through applications and basic operations inside the user menu is easier and faster. Unfortunately, that’s not the case once you move past the most basic operations. Installing updates takes hours and it’s perhaps better to set them to perform automatic updates when the tablet is on stand-by. The same case is with application installation, which takes a lot longer than it should. It certainly doesn’t help that instead of advertised 64 GB of internal storage, the user has only about 30 GB at his disposal, and the rest is easily filled. Generally, the tablet is fast and it responds quickly to user’s commands, unless a need arises for data entry, when it slows down considerably. Of course, that will annoy you the most when you’re setting up the system, installing updates and additional software. Later on, it won’t be as annoying.
This useful addition significantly improves the capabilities and possible applications of the tablet. Imagine that you have, whether at home or at work, a separate part for a computer with a large screen, keyboard, mouse, speakers and LAN connector. You can connect all of these peripherals to the docking station and when you come from the outside, you just put the tablet in its place and voila – in just a moment you have the same work environment that you had on the way to house or work. Of course, there’s also the charger, so you can recharge the battery at the same time. Along with the docking station comes a powerful 65 W corrector, so the charging time is very short, about an hour.
Windows 8 and ThinkPad
ThinkPad Tablet 2 is noticeably better than the previous version. Lenovo corrected the obvious flaws, kept the business feel, and improved this tablet in many ways. It looks really good, and the materials used in chassis construction leave the competition far behind. Hardware components are also excellent – it has the most powerful Intel processor for tablets, a large amount of RAM, excellent screen, a lot of internal storage, 3G modem. Furthermore, it has a touch-sensitive digital pen, it can be upgraded with additional storage with micro SD card, and it has a full-sized USB 2.0 port. Battery autonomy is excellent, and despite our best efforts we weren't able to deplete its battery during one workday.
|Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2|
|Processor||Intel Atom Z2760 1.8 GHz 2C/4T|
|Memory||2 GB 533MHz LPDDr2 SDRAM|
|GPU||Intel GMA 533 MHz|
|SSD||64 GB eMMC SSD|
|Display||10.1'', 1366 x 768 pix|
|Interfaces||USB, mini HDMI, micro SD, USB 2.0, Docking Station port, 3.5 mm|
|Wireless connections||802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, HSPA+ module|
|Camera||Back: 8 MP, LED flash; Front: 2 MP, 1080P HD|
|Sensors||accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, ambient light sensor, GPS|
|OS||Windows 8 Pro 32-bit|
|Dimensions||262.6 x 164.6 x 9.8 mm|
Windows 8, which has progressed greatly when compared to its initial version, is tablet's both flaw and advantage. Instead of Android, this OS gives it much greater capabilities for installing programs from PC world, but at the same time, it limits it with its unpolished user interface and demanding SSD use and with its frequend and lengthy updates. It's a shame that, at least, Office Starter package doesn't come along with it, because it's a software which should be present on any Windows business device. If you are an enthusiast and you have the money, you can have much fun by tinkering with ThinkPad Tablet 2, but it's target audience is primarily the business users. For a manager, it can easily prove as an irreplacable mobile device, and if nothing else – as a status symbol.