Lenovo ThinkPad 8: Gadget Watch

When it comes to PC makers, Lenovo is the king of the hill. According to market research firm IDC, it currently holds 17.7% of the worldwide market, beating out rivals HP (4.7%) and Dell (9.3%).

Because of this, Lenovo’s ThinkPad 8 will be one of the devices many businesspeople needing a serious Windows 8.1 WiFi tablet will look at.

Like Microsoft’s Surface 2, the ThinkPad 8 is a multimode device, meaning you can attach a keyboard and use it as a laptop, or attach a stand, wireless keyboard and mouse and use it as a small-screen PC.

Lenovo offers it through its web store for $649 including GST and delivery. By comparison, the Apple’s equivalent iPad mini with 128 gigabytes of storage costs $799.

So is this the business tablet you’re looking for? It’s time to find out.

Hardware and features

The ThinkPad 8 is built on an Intel Atom Z3770 Processor and runs Windows 8.1. It features an 8.3-inch full-HD display with a resolution of 1920×1200 pixels, along with a micro HDMI output, meaning you can connect it to a compatible TV or full-size monitor.

For memory, it includes 2 gigabytes of RAM and 128GB of storage, and also includes a micro USB 3.0, a microSD slot and 802.11abgn WiFi.

Lenovo claims a battery life of “up to eight hours”.

In terms of cameras, it includes an 8-megapixel 1080p HD rear camera and a 2-megapixel front camera.

What’s the consensus?

According to Engadget’s Dana Wollman, the bright, vibrant full-HD display is a key selling point for the ThinkPad 8.

The ThinkPad 8 is the only 8-inch Windows tablet with a full HD, 1,920 x 1,200 display. And yes, the difference over regular 1,280 x 800 screens is actually pretty obvious. Even in modern Windows apps, where everything is bigger and more finger-friendly, on-screen objects look noticeably crisper… Even more than the crispness, I’ve enjoyed the viewing angles — I only lose a little bit of color accuracy when I place the tablet face-up on a table to watch a movie.

While Wollman appreciates the device’s premium feel, the lack of a stylus and poor battery life are big downsides to this tablet:

That metal casing makes it feel more premium than other 8-inch tablets, as does its especially slim shape. Indeed, at 0.35 inch thick and 0.89 pound, it’s thinner and lighter than both the Toshiba Encore and Acer Iconia W4. In terms of portability, the closest contender is the Dell Venue 8 Pro, which is just as thin, but weighs two-hundredths of a pound less (not that you’ll notice). The downside to having such a skinny frame? Worst-in-class battery life… The only other potential caveat? It doesn’t support pen input. For that, you’ll have to look at Lenovo’s bigger ThinkPad Tablet 2 (or the rumored ThinkPad 10). Otherwise, you might want to consider Dell’s Venue 8 Pro, one of the only 8-inch Windows tablets with an active pen digitizer.

PCWorld’s Michelle Mastin notes it holds up well against the competition in terms of performance:

When we benchmarked the Thinkpad 8 with PCMark 8: Work, Lenovo’s tablet slightly outperformed tablets with Intel’s Atom Z3740 processor, but it fell slightly behind the Atom Z3770-powered Dell Venue 11 Pro. (That device has an 11-inch screen with resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. It earned a PCMark: Work score of 1404, to the ThinkPad 8’s 1378.) In my usage, the ThinkPad 8 handled everything I threw at it, including some more intense desktop programs, but it just didn’t leave me as impressed as the Venue Pro 11 (which is far more versatile in terms of its optional accessories).

Over at Uber Gizmo, Raymond Wong shares the concerns about battery life:

Lenovo says the ThinkPad 8 has an 8 hour battery life to “support an entire business day’s worth of video streaming, document sharing and web browsing.” In my testing, I only ever managed to get 6 hours and 47 minutes at the most per full charge when juggling multiple workflows that included lots of web browsing, watching a few YouTube videos, editing documents and some light gaming. On most days, however, the ThinkPad 8 lasted just a little over 6 hours when multitasking; well below the advertised battery life.

Should I get one?

As with other tablets running a full version of Windows 8.1, such as the Surface 2, one of the benefits is the ability to run full Windows desktop apps and use it as a laptop. If that isn’t important to you, there are far cheaper tablets on the market. Likewise, an iPad mini might be a better option if you’re already wedded to Apple’s ecosystem.

Assuming you have settled on a Windows 8.1 tablet, the key points to consider with the ThinkPad 8 are how important battery life is, and whether you need a stylus to go with it. Again, if you do, there are better options in the market.

That said, if you’re looking for a tablet with good performance, a bright display and a relatively large amount of storage (128 gigabytes) with the ability to run desktop PC apps, this is the tablet for you.


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