Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2: Windows 8 Slate Review

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Conclusion

The ThinkPad Tablet 2 is a difficult thing to suss out. It's clearly great at what it is: being a business-optimized Windows 8 Atom tablet.  However, the form factor itself is sort of an awkward compromise that is pretty good at most things, but not quite great at any one thing, save perhaps for media consumption -- which one might argue is a tablet's primary domain.

The tablet's Atom processor generally means a performance sacrifice in favor of battery life, and, well, battery life is great. The ThinkPad Tablet 2's performance is respectable for basic tasks, but anyone with business needs beyond simple email, browsing, and word processing is going to wish they'd gotten a more powerful laptop instead. A computer is fast enough when it never feels slow, and it's easy to make the ThinkPad Tablet 2 feel pokey. Loading up a half-dozen Chrome tabs will suffice.

The ThinkPad Tablet 2's keyboard itself is so great you might think ought to be permanently attached. As it is, though, you can’t adjust the screen angle when docked, which means there’s absolutely no way to use the keyboard dock for long stretches in a way that doesn't end up hurting your wrists or your neck. The stylus is great too. As always, you pay a premium for ThinkPad build quality, styling, ports, and features. 

The fact that the ThinkPad Tablet 2 runs Windows 8 Pro is great for business users and anyone who finds it hard to do real work in Android, iOS, or Windows RT--which is probably the vast majority of people. But it's just not quite powerful enough to replace a laptop for most business people.

If you know you're going to use it with a keyboard most of the time, you should wait a few months until the ThinkPad Helix and IdeaPad 11S show up. Both of those will have ultrabook guts, higher-resolution touchscreens and an adjustable-angle hinge connecting the keyboard and screen. The Helix's keyboard dock is detachable, while the Yoga 11S's keyboard folds all the way around against the back of the tablet. It's likely that neither will have battery life as good as the ThinkPad Tablet 2, so as always you have to weigh your needs carefully before committing to a laptop/tablet convertible. 

It's hard to decide whether to recommend the ThinkPad Tablet 2. On the one hand it's great for what it is, and the keyboard is a must-have addition. It's the best tablet keyboard I've ever used, and the ThinkPad Tablet 2 is one of the best Atom-powered Windows slates you can buy. If you know that's what you want, get the ThinkPad Tablet 2. Otherwise, you'll want a hybrid that's a little bit more like a laptop.

 

 

     
  • Runs Windows 8 Pro
  • Fantastic keyboard
  • Excellent battery life
  • Great screen
  • Optional stylus
  • Keyboard dock has no hinge
  • Won't replace laptop for most business people
  • Optional broadband package is expensive
  • Fingerprint magnet


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