The Lenovo ThinkPad Helix is a hybrid Windows 8 laptop-tablet in the traditional ThinkPad vein. It's robust, it's functional and it certainly won't come cheap. However, this $1500 11.6-inch hybrid offers greater flexibility than some of the competition.
As with any ThinkPad product, a large part of the appeal of the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix is its build. Cast in the usual matt black and made out of a mixture of magnesium alloy and plastic, it's unmistakably ThinkPad.
Aside from the functional looks and the excellent signature ThinkPad keyboard, the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix differentiates itself from the reams of hybrids with a reversible screen mechanism that Lenovo calls “Rip and Flip”. The 835g 11.6-inch tablet part can be used as a tablet, jammed into the keyboard base for a laptop-like form or turned around to make the keyboard act as a stand.
The keyboard base is cleverer than most too. Like the Asus Transformer tablets, it provides its own battery, boosting the battery stamina from 6 hours to 10 hours. That's not masses for a tablet, but let's not forget this is a “full fat” device running full Windows 8 rather than the RT version.
The keyboard base's hinge mechanism isn't the prettiest, but provides vents and a pair of additional fans to help cool the Helix when under more strenuous use – the assumption being that the most intensive tasks will probably be done docked.
With a 1080p 11.6-inch screen, the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix matches the majority of “Pro” line Windows 8 hybrids, including the Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro.
It uses an IPS display, bringing the usual excellent image quality and wide viewing angles we've come to expect from tablets and tablet hybrids. Another feature that is becoming standard for higher-end hybrids is a digitiser.
The Lenovo ThinkPad features a Wacom digitiser, and the tablet offers a cubby hole into which you can put the digitiser pen. Again, Lenovo wins extra points for thoughtful practicality.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Helix will be available in an array of spec configurations, but the one we saw demonstrated was a mid-range example, with a Core i5 processor. Core i7 options will also be available. The ThinkPad Helix uses current Ivy Bridge-generation CULV Intel chips, backed-up by 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.