Any tablet based on Intel's Clover Trail Atom platform is going to have the same strengths and weaknesses. They'll run all of your Windows desktop applications in a thin, light, and power-efficient package, but they only really run them well if said applications are relatively lightweight. This is simply the cost of using a 1.8GHz dual-core Atom CPU, 2GB of memory, and a slower storage interface rather than the full-blown Ultrabook guts of a tablet like Acer's Iconia W700. If you can look past those issues (as well as lackluster graphics performance), Clover Trail enables full Windows 8 tablets that aren't hampered by an inability to run third-party desktop applications.
The insides of Lenovo's ThinkPad Tablet 2 are largely identical to those of the Acer Iconia W510 we reviewed recently. They share the same processor, amount and type of RAM, and storage interface. What Lenovo's Clover Trail tablet brings to the table is the ThinkPad name, which many PC buyers still swear by. Lenovo's entry packs most of the ThinkPad line's virtues into a tablet-sized package, which makes it compelling if you can get past Clover Trail's performance.
Very much a ThinkPad
|SPECS AT A GLANCE: LENOVO THINKPAD TABLET 2|
|SCREEN||1366x768 10.1" (155 ppi), 5-point capacitive touchscreen|
|OS||Windows 8 Pro (32-bit)|
|CPU||Dual-core 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2670|
|RAM||2GB DDR2 (non-upgradeable)|
|GPU||Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX545|
|HDD||64 solid-state drive (about 35GB available on 64GB drive after updates)|
|NETWORKING||802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0|
|PORTS||Micro USB 2.0 for charging, full-size USB 2.0 for accessories, Micro HDMI, MicroSD card slot.|
|SIZE||10.1” x 6.9” x 0.34” (262.6 x 164.6 x 9.8mm)|
|WEIGHT||1.29 lbs (585g)|
|PRICE AS REVIEWED||$749.00|
|OTHER PERKS||Active digitizer and pen (in some configurations), optional keyboard stand accessory, optional VGA dongle, and optional dock accessory.|
The ThinkPad lineup is known for having good build quality, and that's what the ThinkPad Tablet 2 brings to the table. The bulk of the tablet's casing is still made of plastic, but it's the same sturdy plastic that ThinkPad laptops use. The plastic has a slightly soft feel, similar (but not quite the same as) the rubbery coating used on the lids of the laptop ThinkPads. The Tablet 2 is to the iPad as ThinkPad laptops are to MacBooks—Lenovo favors plastic to metal, but their devices don't feel cheap and they're nice to use.
Looking at the back of the tablet, you can see that its edges aren't quite uniform. The top, bottom, and left edges are sloped, while the right edge is rounded. This makes the tablet more pleasant to hold in one's left hand, but more importantly provides a rounded compartment in which to hide the tablet's digitizer pen. The front of the tablet is made similarly asymmetrical by the pen receptacle and the bezel is narrower on the left side than the right.
Speaking of screens, the ThinkPad Tablet 2's 1366×768 IPS display is definitely good, though its pixel density can't compare with that of tablets like the Nexus 10 or full-sized iPad. As you'd expect from an IPS panel, the colors are bright and the viewing angles are good, though the screen does take on a slightly bluish cast when viewed from certain angles. The biggest problem if you're used to a high-density phone or tablet screen might be that the text is slightly fuzzy by comparison, but it doesn't really hurt the tablet's usability.
At 1.25 pounds, the Wi-Fi-only base model is slightly lighter than the full-size iPads, though adding the pen, digitizer, and cellular connectivity options increases this to 1.3 pounds. As with any widescreen tablet, using it one-handed for extended periods is a bit uncomfortable, but the weight is in line with other tablets of this size. It feels good in two hands and carrying it around in a bag is no problem.
The Tablet 2 has two small stereo speakers that sound like you'd expect tablet speakers to sound: serviceable but tinny. Finally, the tablet includes both front- and rear-facing cameras. The 2MP front shooter is acceptable for video chatting but is pretty grainy in low-light, a common complaint with these webcams. The 8MP rear shooter is acceptable in cases where the Tablet 2 is the proverbial "camera you have with you" but most modern smartphones and point-and-shoots are going to give you superior image quality.