Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2: Windows 8 Slate Review

Design and User Interface

Imagine, if you will, a Lenovo tablet with a ThinkPad's design language. The ThinkPad Tablet 2 looks a lot like that device in your imagination. It's a slate with a 10.1-inch screen, a glossy black bezel, and the usual ThinkPad-style soft-touch matte black finish to the sides and back. The rear edge of the right side is beveled, so the tablet feels even thinner. The left side is not, so as to accommodate the stylus, which slips right into a dock on the tablet's left edge. The result is a 1.3 pound tablet that, especially compared to others in its size class, feels solid but comfortable and easy to hold. And unlike tablets with backs made from glossy, cheap-feeling plastic or industrial-looking aluminum, the ThinkPad Tablet 2 feels, well, like a grown-up tablet. It's serious business.

The left edge of the tablet has a microUSB port for charging and a rubberized flap covering a full-sized USB 2.0 port. Unfortunately, you can't use the microUSB port to sync with a desktop. It's for charging only. And the full-sized USB port only puts out 2.5W of power, which isn't enough to power a portable hard drive or optical drive.

The stylus slots into the top left corner and leaves a little red nub showing on the top left edge of the tablet. The nub, of course, looks just like the fabled ThinkPad trackpoint. Another flap covers the SIM and microSD card slots on the top of the tablet just to the right of the webcam. The far right of the top edge holds the power button. The right edge of the tablet has a headphone/mic jack, the volume keys, and an auto-rotate toggle, while the bottom edge holds a mini-HDMI port and a port for the $100 desktop docking station (sold separately).

The bezel around the screen is just around 2cm on each side. Above the screen (in landscape mode) is the 2MP webcam; the round Start button is its counterpart on the bottom bezel. The right bezel contains the ambient light sensor, and the ThinkPad logo is picked out on the right edge of the top bezel. The back of the tablet has an 8MP camera, LED flash, and the Lenovo and ThinkPad logos.

The 10.1-inch 1366x768 LED-backlit IPS screen is beautiful. Its colors are rich and accurate, and it looks great from any angle, though it's hard to use in direct sunlight due to its extreme glossiness and tendency to pick up fingerprints. The resolution isn't as high as you might want, but pairing high-resolution, small-sized screens with desktop Windows is a perilous task--just look at the Surface Pro's 10-inch 1920x1080 screen and its weird desktop scaling issues. Lenovo took the easier route and stuck with a 1366x768 screen and the standard UI scaling. Even at this scale it's hard to use the desktop mode without mechanical aid, but you don't have to, provided you spring for the keyboard and stylus. And you really should.

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