Hands-on with Lenovo’s compact Windows 10 convertible
Windows 10 convertibles have been all the rage this year. Samsung kicked off the trend at CES in January when it unveiled its Galaxy TabPro S. Huawei followed suit at MWC 2016 when it unveiled its first ever laptop convertible, the Matebook.
Both devices look great, but are set to cost you a pretty penny. And that's actually indicative of a wider problem within the Windows 10 convertible space – there haven’t been any decent affordable hybrids.
Enter Lenovo and its IdeaPad MIIX 310, a hybrid Windows 10 tablet with a fully functioning keyboard dock that’s set to retail for a piddly €269.
1) It has an actual keyboard
Keyboards are a factor that can make or break a laptop's or convertible’s overall appeal. Which is why I’m pleased Lenovo’s bundled the IdeaPad MIIX 310 with a physical keyboard, not just a flimsy Microsoft Type Cover rip-off.
The 10-inch keyboard isn’t the biggest in the world and isn’t backlit. But I found it to be reasonably comfortable to type on. The keys aren’t overly spongy and have suitable travel, albeit they are a little squidged together.
What’s more, the keyboard also adds full-size USB sockets, which will be a key selling point for people who want to use the Lenovo IdeaPad MIIX 310 as a laptop first, tablet second.
2) Bloatware has been kept to a minimum
Lenovo promised it would stop loading its consumer devices with bloatware after a select number of its laptops were found running the Superfish adware a couple of years ago.
However, to date it’s only partially kept this promise. As we noted in our Lenovo Yoga 900 review last year, many of its laptops still come with unwanted third-party applications installed.
But during my hands-on I found, generally, that Lenovo’s taken a light touch with the IdeaPad MIIX 310. The only big third-party app I found was Lenovo’s REACHit service. REACHit is a cloud file-management feature that aims to make it easier for laptop owners to find and curate all their documents, photos, music, videos, from one application. I’ve never had much use for it, but its presence is hardly a deal breaker.
3) This isn’t a Surface rival
While these features sound great, buyers should know this isn’t a Microsoft Surface rival. The IdeaPad MIIX 310 is a netbook-grade product with low-end hardware designed for power efficiency and portability, not performance horsepower.
It’s powered by an Intel Atom X5 8300 CPU and has a modest 4GB of RAM. These specs really aren’t anything to write home about, but are on a par with most other affordable, small-form-factor Windows 10 convertibles, such as the Asus Transformer Book T100HA.
This means the IdeaPad MIIX 310 should be fine for web browsing, video streaming and basic office tasks, but even moderately demanding tasks will be beyond it.
4) But it has some nice features
That said, the IdeaPad MIIX 310 does have some positive features. For starters, Lenovo’s quoting the IdeaPad MIIX 310 as offering a solid 10 hours of video playback. If true this could be a serious selling point. Most other Windows 10 convertibles in the same price bracket struggle to make it past the 6- to 7-hour mark. Those who want to can also upgrade the 10-inch screen to be FHD and add 4G connectivity – though doing so will obviously bump up the device’s price.
The Lenovo IdeaPad MIIX 310 may not be the sexiest convertible on the market. That title still belongs to Microsoft’s awesome, but woefully expensive, Surface Book. But it could be a great choice for buyers on a budget, or students looking for something affordable for word processing and Netflix bingeing.