Lenovo ThinkPad 2 review: A versatile business device
At a Glance
Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2
It's neither powerful nor sexy, but the ThinkPad 2 is a solid value.
Lenovo has made waves with its innovative hybrid laptop-tablet devices (think the flexible IdeaPad Yoga and the Exorcist-like ThinkPad Twist), but the company hasn’t abandoned its more traditional line of business-oriented machines.
Lenovo’s ThinkPad Tablet 2 may not be all that sexy as a piece of hardware, but it’s a usable, secure tablet that will likely appeal to business users—especially business users who are interested in a more portable workstation.
The ThinkPad Tablet 2 looks relatively ordinary: it has a traditional ThinkPad finish of soft matte-black rubber on one side, and a glossy 10.1-inch touchscreen made of Corning Gorilla Glass on the other. The tablet has a few small plastic buttons along the top and side (power, volume, screen rotation lock), as well as a nice selection of ports (USB, HDMI out, and SD and miniSD card slots).
The ThinkPad Tablet 2’s screen is actually very nice. It’s an IPS display, which means that off-axis viewing angles are very good. It’s also bright enough to use in brightly lit areas (such as a public gym or an office, or even by a window on a train), but it’s not so bright that you’d want it as a poolside companion. Colors are vivid and accurate, text and images are crisp (its native resolution is 1366 by 768 pixels), and HD video playback looks good. It’s also excellent as a touchscreen. Touch input extends just past the edge of the screen and onto the bezel, which makes basic Windows 8 gestures (such as swiping to the left from the right side to bring up the Charms menu) very easy to perform.
Although the touchscreen is awesome, there are times when you just need a little more functionality. Lenovo has you covered with an optional Bluetooth keyboard/stand and a digitizer pen. Our review model, which costs $765, came with both.
The keyboard dock has its strengths and weaknesses. On the plus side, it has evenly spaced keys that provide good tactile feedback and are easy to type on, although they’re a little small. In my tests, I managed around 92 words per minute using the ThinkPad’s keyboard, which is down just a little from my average of 110 wpm.
The keyboard also has a pseudo-pointing stick in the center. This device looks like Lenovo’s signature trackpoint, but it functions slightly differently and takes a little getting used to. Rather than pushing it to move the cursor, you swipe your finger across its surface. It works in conjunction with three buttons beneath the spacebar for panning left or right and scrolling up and down.
We highly recommend buying the optional keyboard, especially for business users who value productivity. But you should be aware that this most definitely is not a dock; it’s just a plastic stand that pops up so the ThinkPad Tablet 2 can perch precariously above the keyboard. You can’t adjust the screen angle, and the tablet is prone to falling out. This can be troublesome if you’re using it in an unsteady environment (such as, I don’t know, public transportation). This also means you can’t charge the tablet through the dock. Fortunately, both the tablet and the keyboard use the same MicroUSB charger.
The digitizing pen, which fits neatly into the left side of the tablet, uses Wacom’s digitizer technology and can detect pressure. This makes it great for sketching and drawing. When the stylus is near the screen, the tablet automatically turns the screen’s touch detector off, so you can rest your hand on the screen while you’re taking notes or drawing.
If you’re looking for a business-y tablet, Lenovo’s ThinkPad Tablet 2 isn’t a bad choice. It’s small, lightweight, with relatively good battery life (we managed to get almost nine hours out of it in our tests), and its multiple input options make it a very versatile device.
Although the Tablet 2 runs Windows 8 Pro, it’s not exactly a powerhouse—it has only an Intel Atom Z2760 processor and 2GB of SDRAM to work with, after all. But tablet lovers looking for a flexible multi-purpose device will like it.