Lenovo unveiled its Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 in August 2012, which would obviously be the latest version of their previously released ThinkPad Tablet. The company’s first attempt at offering a tablet to its customers resulted in an Android-powered tablet that featured a 10.1-inch display, a dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor and a few additional bells and whistles.
With the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, the company decided to offer a tablet equipped with Windows 8 to help it appeal to more traditional PC users as the world of Android tablets could certainly scare and confuse the most dedicated computer user. But is their offering worth your hard-earned money considering it also runs an Intel Atom processor? There’s only one way to find out, so without further ado, let’s get down to our review of the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2.
On average, I tend to use my laptop a lot more than my tablets during work hours as I prefer its power and usability due to the fact I spend most of my day writing news stories, editing videos and chatting through various instant messenger services.
When I do use my tablets, it’s often when I’m unwinding after work or on the weekends to catch up on various news stories, interact with social media sites and watch online streaming videos. I often use an iPad attached to a Bluetooth keyboard as I prefer the feel of an actual keyboard versus an on-screen keyboard.
There are times when I travel that I take my iPad with me as I tend to interact with it better than I do with my laptop when I’m in the airport, traveling by train or unwinding poolside. A lightweight and long-lasting tablet is something I’m always on the lookout for as I’d like it to keep up with my busy schedule rather than worry about when I’m going to charge it next.
10.1″ IPS Display (1366×768)
Dual-core Intel Atom (Z2760 1.80GHz) + PowerVR SGX545 GPU
2GB / 800MHz LPDDR2 RAM
Windows 8 Pro 32-bit
64GB Flash Memory
ThinkPad 11a/b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 combo chip, GPS
Mini-HDMI, 3.5mm Audio In / Microphone Jack combo
USB 2.0, micro-SD, docking connector
262.36mm x 164.59mm x 9.90mm (10.34″ x 6.48″ x 0.39″)
0.58kg (1.30 lbs.)
Lithium Polymer, 30Whr
Ambient Light Sensor, 3D Accelerometer and magnetometer, 3axis gyroscope
Official specifications on Lenovo.com
The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 features a 10.1-inch display which takes up the majority of the front of the tablet and features a 2-inch bezel that is completely covered in glass. The bottom of the front panel has a Windows 8 button which acts just like a Windows key when press. The top of the front panel features its 2MP front-facing camera with fixed focus while the top-right of the panel has the words ThinkPad prominently displayed.
The outer-rim of the tablet is where you’ll find all of its various buttons and ports. The top rim is where you can access the tablet’s microSD and SIM cards as well as its power button, which is located on the corner. The right rim has its power, volume buttons and headphone jack, the bottom rim is where its mini-HDMI and docking connector are located and the left side is where the tablet’s micro-USB and USB ports are located.
The rear of the Tablet 2 has the same slightly rubberized material Lenovo laptops have been known for and is where you can find its 8MP camera with auto focus and LED flash.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 is extremely light as it only weighs a total of 1.30lbs, making it easy to handle and throw into your bag if you’re traveling. The review unit which was lent to us for this review came with its keyboard, which is also extremely light, making both of them very easy to transport if you need a Windows 8 experience while you’re on the go. The Tablet 2 also felt very nice when being held as its 10.1-inch display is a nice size to be held, especially since it’s a widescreen display.
Keyboard (optional accessory): As nice as it is Lenovo created a keyboard that was built for its ThinkPad Tablet 2, I feel they could have done a better job with it as it feels like it’s more of a toy keyboard than a real keyboard that is worth $119. The keys feel cheaply made when compared to Lenovo’s long history of laptops, the dock portion just holds the Tablet 2 in place without any sort of guidance or securing. When pressing on the keys, they don’t give a premium feeling click. I really do feel my description of it feeling like a toy keyboard is pretty accurate as I don’t get a $119 feel from these keys.
Instead of Lenovo’s TouchPoint, which all regular Lenovo customer should be familiar with by now, they placed a tiny trackpad sensor in the middle of the keyboard which results in a lot of sliding around just to get your mouse pointer to where you want it to go. Worst of all is the keyboard doesn’t even house the Tablet 2, which means if you throw them into an overnight bag, they’ll be sliding around individually instead of the keyboard connecting to the tablet to make it one unit. Lenovo does sell two different cases to keep them separate while traveling, but they cost either an extra $40 – $50, which is a bit much just so your keyboard and tablet can travel safely in your bag.
Below the spacebar is where you’ll find three buttons for mouse inputs with the middle-button used for scrolling. Just like with the quality of the keys on the keyboard, the mouse buttons don’t feel good either as they feel just as plastic as the keys do. The outer portion of the keyboard have a thin piece of rubber on both sides. I have no idea why these were placed there as my hands never traveled far enough to feel them, and it’s not like they’re being used in order to help the tablet’s screen from getting scratched when they’re combined, because, once again, they don’t.
The 10.1-inch display on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 features an LED touchscreen with IPS, which means it’ll look good no matter how extreme of an angle you view it at. Its nit brightness wasn’t in our spec sheets, but we found it to do quite well with only 30% – 40% of its full brightness used indoors. Its equipped ambient light sensor made it easy to switch from working indoors to direct sunlight as it automatically adjusts the display’s brightness without the user thinking twice about it. On a sunny day, the display was a little hard to read, but it certainly wasn’t impossible and performed slightly worse when compared to a smartphone like the iPhone or tablet like the iPad. If you’re planning on taking the Tablet 2 with you on a trip to the beach, be sure to pack an umbrella or it could be nearly impossible to use.
The Tablet 2’s 1366 x 768 resolution is pretty much standard for both tablets and laptops this size, so it won’t blow your eyes away in that aspect. We found it to do the job quite well without noting any amazing visuals coming from the tablet.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 features two cameras: a front-facing 2MP fixed -focus camera and a rear-facing 8MP auto-focus camera with LED flash, which is also capable of recording 720p videos. We put the Tablet 2’s cameras up against an iPad 3rd generation’s cameras
The front-facing camera of the ThinkPad Tablet 2 when taking daylight images was able to produce a crisper, less-noisy image than the 3rd-generation iPad. Unfortunately, the camera wasn’t able to produce as colorful image as much of the image’s colors were faded in comparison. The rear-facing camera was also guilty of producing an image with colors not as vibrant as the 3rd-generation iPad’s, but it did produce a nice image free of any image noise or degradation.
In our low-light tests, the front-facing camera continued to suffer from producing an image with its color slightly faded when compared to the 3rd-generation iPad’s image. Fortunately, the camera was able to see me, which is always a good thing as some cameras can’t even capture an image in low light. As for the rear-facing camera, I was forced to cover its flash as no matter how many settings I clicked, there was absolutely nothing that could be done to turn off the Tablet 2’s flash. The image the Tablet 2 produced was a little less colorful again compared to the iPad 3rd generation, but the image was able to capture a nice amount of details and contrasts.
Performance (relatively low)
The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 comes with a dual-core Intel Atom which isn’t a powerful processor, but what it lacks in power, it more than makes up for in low-battery consumption which is exactly what a tablet like this needs.
One of the first benchmarks we like to run for PCs is the PCMark 7 which is a benchmark used in order to simulate real-world tasks such as opening applications, booting up your computer and doing some mild graphical tasks.
In our PCMark 7 benchmark, we found the ThinkPad Tablet 2 did as well as we expected it to do with its Intel Atom processor as it scored a low score of 1418. This means you should try not to overburden your Tablet 2 as it probably won’t be able to keep up with too much multitasking.
The second benchmark we like to run on our test machines is 3D Mark 11, which is a benchmark that is more demanding as its primary focus is how well it’ll perform as a gaming machine.. And we’re not talking Facebook or Flash-based games here as those tend to not demand so much from a system, but instead, actual games like Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed or any other current-generation games. Unfortunately, the ThinkPad Tablet 2’s PowerVR SGX545 wasn’t powerful enough to run the 3D Mark 11 test, which means attempting to play any sort of game on the tablet would be highly recommended against.
The final benchmark we like to run on our test machines is Geekbench, which isn’t a benchmark that tests the laptop with real-world applications, but instead squarely focuses on the CPU’s raw performance score by throwing mathematical equations at the processor.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 scored a 1346 in our Geekbench benchmark, which means its dual-core Intel Atom processor is pretty weak, although we’re sure you knew that already. It actually scored less than our recently reviewed HP Envy X2, which features the same processor, but only by a few points. To compare it with other tablets, the Tablet 2 is a couple hundred points less powerful than the fourth-generation iPad and Galaxy Note 10.1.
Value for the weight, price
We know when purchasing any PC, people tend to look at its internal specs and purchase a computer based on what they currently need. One factor many overlook is its weight as more powerful portable computers will most likely be heavier than PCs that aren’t as powerful. That’s why we also like to look at a PCs performance relative to its weight so we can see if all of that power is worth you breaking your back over or if a PC’s weight isn’t worth its sub-par performance.
The ThinkPad Tablet 2 may feature a rather weak processor, but when you consider its super-light weight of 1.30lbs, it seems to be worth the trouble of lugging around in your bag according to our equation.
Battery Life (excellent)
The Intel Atom CPU equipped inside of the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 is a low-power chip, which means we already expected the tablet to have great battery life. In our real-world test of leaving the tablet on at 50 percent brightness and with Wi-Fi activated, the Tablet 2 took 10 hours for its battery to fully deplete. This really is an impressive amount of battery life as it means you can most likely expect to get a full day of use out of the Tablet 2, or at least carry it around without needing to charge it for a day or two.
We know you’re not just going to want to have the Tablet 2 just sitting around unused, so we also conducted some real-world tests of watching videos on the tablet to see how long it should last you. The results of our test were as impressive as our battery depletion test as we played a local 1080p video with the Tablet 2’s brightness at 50 percent and noted a 12% decrease in battery, which equates to 8.3 hours of local video playback time. Streaming videos also did exceptionally well under the same circumstances as we noted a decrease of 16% in the tablet’s battery, which means you should expect 6.25 hours of streaming video playback time.
Battery Charge Speed (Poor)
Those results would have certainly given the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 an “excellent” rating in our Battery category, but unfortunately, its battery charge speed was extremely slow as it took 5 hours to charge the tablet from 0% to 100%. The battery inside of the Tablet 2 is a Lithium Polymer battery capable of holding a 30Whr charge, which is a very sensitive battery in terms of how it charges. Because of that, the process of drawing in power needs to be limited to a certain voltage, and that’s what keeps the battery’s charge speed slow. Also, if we used an AC adapter that wasn’t specifically the Tablet 2’s, the charge speed would be even slower, so keep that in mind as you’ll need to use the included charger to get it to charge properly.
Conclusion (There are better Windows 8 tablets out there)
The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 was the company’s attempt to create a new version of their original tablet equipped with Windows 8, but unfortunately, its specs and its overall experience gave us the feeling of a low-budget tablet, even though this particular tablet we reviewed is priced at $729, and that’s without including the price of its accessories like its low-quality keyboard.
What the Tablet 2 does have going for it is its battery life, as long as you don’t consider its long battery charge time, and its lightweight build. 1.30lbs feels extremely light in your hands, and when you consider it’ll last 10 hours if it’s constantly on, that makes this tablet extremely transportable.
You can certainly get a better Windows 8 tablet experience from other companies with a price comparable to what Lenovo is charging for its Tablet 2, like the HP Envy X2. If you aren’t completely married to the idea of purchasing a Windows 8 tablet, you can even get a much better experience on a number of Android tablets as well as the iPad. If you absolutely need a lightweight Windows 8 tablet with long-battery life, then by all means, give the Tablet 2 a go, but if you’re somebody who uses a keyboard often with a tablet or would prefer to have a more impressive screen, then we know you can absolutely do better.