Lenovo ThinkPad 10 Windows 8.1 Bay Trail Tablet

Design & Accessories

The overall functionality of the ThinkPad 10 is directly tied to the accessories you choose to equip it with, which is by design -- Lenovo's ecosystem of optional add-ons is a major selling point compared to the competition. We have three on-hand to examine, including the QuickShot cover ($45), Ultrabook Keyboard ($119), and Tablet Dock ($129). There's also a Protector case ($69) and Touch Case ($119) available, and as time goes on, we expect even more accessories will find their way to the ThinkPad 10. We'll take a look at the three Lenovo sent us, but first, let's get up close and personal with the ThinkPad 10 itself.

ThinkPad 10 Main

At just 1.3 pounds, the ThinkPad 10 certainly fits into the light and portable category with ease. Like all tablets in this size range, fatigue will inevitably become a factor after extended one-hand holding, but with a two-handed grip, you can squeeze in plenty of reading time before bed.

A sizable bezel tracks around the main display. This gives your thumbs a place to rest, and in our testing, accidental screen taps never became a problem. This was true no matter which way we held the ThinkPad 10. We weren't sure if this would be the case after noticing its asymmetrical shape -- the top two corners are rounded while the bottom two are flat and sharp. Lenovo designed its tablet that way to accommodate the wealth of accessories that clip onto the bottom section.

The 10.1-inch touchscreen display sports an IPS panel with a 1920x1200 resolution. It's protected by Corning's Gorilla Glass and supports Lenovo's Digitizer Pen, which will come bundled with some models. A Full HD resolution might not seem all that exciting compared to the ultra high resolutions being offered by some Android and iOS tablets, but it's very much a sweet spot for a Windows 8.1 tablet designed for work and play. Once you go too much higher, funky things can happen on the desktop in terms of icon sizing (a pixel scaling issue) and navigating built-in tools for applications that weren't written to take advantage of ultra high resolutions (such as Photoshop). Lenovo chose the ThinkPad 10's resolution wisely, and being an IPS panel, you're able to see the display from a variety of viewing angles.
ThinkPad 10 Side ThinkPad 10 Side 2
ThinkPad 10 Side 3 ThinkPad 10 Side 4

On the right side of the ThinkPad 10 you'll come across the headphone jack, volume rocker, and Micro ports (SIM, SD, and HDMI). The left side houses the full size USB 2.0 port and charging port for the included AC adapter. On top you'll find an auto-rotate button (you can turn this feature on or off) and power button, while the bottom contains connectors for accessories.

Compared to Apple's iPad Air, the ThinkPad 10 is slightly thicker at 0.35 inches (8.89mm) versus 0.29 inches (7.5mm). It's more comparable to Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 (see our review) in that regard, which itself is 0.36 inches thick and weighs 1.76 pounds. That's to say it's not the thinnest or lightest tablet available, though it's not chunky and it feels solid thanks in part to its aluminum construction.

ThinkPad 10 Back

We haven't talked about the speakers yet, and that's because they're firing out of the ThinkPad 10's backside. If holding the tablet in landscape mode, the stereo speakers are found on the left and right side. There's enough volume to compensate for rear-facing speakers, though in terms of quality, we found the built-in speakers to be a bit tinny, even by tablet standards.

An 8-megapixel camera with auto-focus and LED flash occupies the top-left corner of the backside. Over on the front of the tablet is a 2-megapixel webcam. Both cameras can record in 1080p.


ThinkPad 10 QuickShot Cover

The optional QuickShot cover runs $45 from Lenovo. A felt-like material protects the tablet's display when closed, while magnets inside the cover put the ThinkPad 10 to sleep and wake it up when opened.

When you open the cover and lay it flat on the tablet's back, the rear-facing camera is covered. However, you don't have to remove the cover to snap pics -- there's a flap in the upper-right corner that folds back and magnetically snaps into place. This also fires up the camera app automatically.

The last trick of the QuickShot cover is to serve as a stand. Just fold the cover back into a tent and the tablet sits propped up for watching movies on Netflix, YouTube, and so forth.

ThinkPad 10 Keyboard

A ThinkPad 10 Ultrabook Keyboard is available for $119, as is a Touch Case, which is a folio type case with an integrated keyboards. Lenovo sent us the former, and if you're planning on doing a lot of typing, it's the better option. The keyboard is compared to the ones found on Lenovo's laptops, only a little flatter. The curved keycaps are easy to type on and there's sufficient spacing between keys to keep from tripping over yourself.

The integrated touchpad is a different story. At first we thought there was something wrong with our ThinkPad 10 sample because mouse movements via the touchpad were jerky -- an errant app hogging too many CPU cycles, perhaps? It turns out the touchpad just isn't all that great with continued movement. We verified this by plugging a mouse into the tablet's USB port, after which the cursor sprinted back and forth the length of the display without any hiccups. The touchpad is fine for short bursts, but long stretches of movement, the loss of finger detection will drive you batty.

ThinkPad 10 Dock

All work and no play might make Jack a dull boy, but try telling Jack's wife and kids they need to sell their home and all their belongings because dad was fired for neglecting his work. Jack could avoid such an unhappy fate by picking up a Tablet Dock for $129. This gives Jack three USB 3.0 ports to play with, as well as an Ethernet port and full size HDMI port, and it also serves as a charging station. That means at the end of the work day, you can pop the ThinkPad 10 out of the dock, put the QuickShot cover on, and bring home a fully charged tablet.

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