The original Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet was a good attempt at making a tablet that stood out from the myriad 10.1-inch Android offerings. However, it lacked refinement and was chunky; both forgivable were it not for the price.
Lenovo has made some drastic changes to the ThinkPad Tablet 2. It runs Windows 8, and has moved from Tegra 2 to Intel Atom 1.8Ghz dual-core processor. It backs that up with 2GB of RAM and 64GB SSD storage, but does that warrant the £130 price increase from its predecessor?
It’s obvious a lot of thought has gone into making the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 slim, light and sleek. At just 600g it is 52g lighter than an iPad 4, more than 400g lighter than the Microsoft Surface but is a touch heavier than what is arguably its closest Android competitor, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.
Good quality soft touch plastic covers the rear, with discreet speaker slots at the bottom and a well-integrated camera and flash flanked by etched Lenovo and ThinkPad logos at the top. The ThinkPad mark makes it feel like a work tablet, harking back to the IBM ThinkPad laptops, and this is further supported by all-black body that makes it look all business. The one exception to the monotone colour scheme is a splash of red on the top left of the ThinkPad 2, which signifies the top of the elegantly integrated stylus.
The Lenovo Thinkpad 2’s lightness and grippy back means it can be held in one-hand with reasonable comfort. Softened edges (the left hand edge that houses the stylus is totally rounded) help too, though the soft-touch plastic attracts unsightly greasy finger marks.
On the top edge are a covered microSD and SIM (if you go for the 3G enabled version), and a headphone jack; on the left, a full size USB (a thoughtful inclusion) and a micro USB slot, which is used for charging the Lenovo ThinkPad 2’s durable battery.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 feels robust – as typifies all things with the ThinkPad band. It has a bit of give and flex in all the right places, though there are a few areas where the seams feel as if they could fit together a more snuggly. It’s a plain but stylish tablet but, all in all, Lenovo has done a good job designing the ThinkPad 2.
If you’ve mainly used laptops then you’ll be more than satisfied with the ThinkPad’s screen, but 1,366 x 768 is still the norm on Windows 8 tablets and it’s a far cry from high resolution ‘retina’ screens of the Apple iPad 4 or Google Nexus 10.
That said the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 manages well even without a super-high resolution. Colours are bright without being oversaturated and 720p HD video looks excellent – the Intel Atom processor is fine at streaming HD video. Lenovo has opted for an IPS screen, too, which means the viewing angles, are great.
The touch screen is brilliantly responsive and five-point touch support means all the gestures that Windows 8 supports work impressively; the zoom in and out of the homepage is particularly fun.
Your hands won’t cover the speakers when you’re holding the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 – something that many other tablets suffer from. They’re perfectly adequate for a tablet, without being outstanding, as they’re loud enough to watch a movie with company without straining your ears, and they create a pleasing stereo effect.
The Lenovo ThinkPad 2 comes with all you’d expect from Windows 8 tablets in terms of connectivity. There’s a welcome mini-HDMI out as well as a micro-SD card slot, which is essential if you consider there’s only 14GB of the 64GB spare after Windows 8 and the pre-installed software are accounted for. A micro-USB slot on the side of the tablet is used for charging only.
If you opt for the 3G version you can find the full size SIM card slot next to the micro-SD and obligatory headphone jack. We couldn’t test the Bluetooth keyboard connector dock as Lenovo had no available keyboards to test. We’ll update this review as soon as we get our hands on it, but we did find that even using a third party keyboard made the ThinkPad 2 a much better working tool.
It’s great to have a full size USB port, but it’s a bittersweet addition. Not only is it USB 2, not the faster USB 3 standard, it’s not powerful enough for an external hard drive to work, or any other USB-powered accessory, like a USB Pico projector.
It’s not great future proofing for a tablet that costs upwards of £500, especially one aimed at the business market. Yes, using a USB-powered hard drive or projector would sap power more quickly, but we’d like users to have the options to drain their battery faster for additional functionality if they want to. On the plus side USB flash drives/sticks work absolutely fine and appear in the ‘My computer’ section just as you’d expect on a laptop or desktop computer running Windows.
The Lenovo has an Intel dual-core Atom Z2760 processor running at 1.8GHz supported by an Intel Integrated HD SGX545 graphics chip, 2GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD. In practice this means that the ThinkPad Tablet 2 boots very quickly, 14 seconds in fact. However we’ve often lamented the performance of Atom Z2760 processor and unfortunately the ThinkPad Tablet 2 can’t eek out any extra performance from the chipset.
But the Atom Z2760 is an adequate performer at best. If you only use the ThinkPad Tablet 2 for light tasks, such as internet browsing, apps and basic programs, you won’t have many problems. But waiting for apps and programs to open is frustrating.
It copes well with full HD video, but don’t even think about anything but the most basic 3D gaming, multi-tasking or heavy duty applications, such as image or video editors. The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 grinds to a halt running these.
PC MARK score: 1426
Entertainment score: 1044