Price: $1,049 | Web: www.lenovo.com/au
Critical specs: 10.1-inch IPS LCD, 1,366 x 768 pixels, 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2760 CPU, 2GB RAM, 64GB storage, microSD slot, stylus, 8MP rear and 2MP front cameras, 600g.
Lenovo’s ThinkPad Tablet 2 3G isn’t the most imaginatively named example of its creed. To its credit, though, it does basically do exactly what its moniker suggests, carrying the ThinkPad line’s plain-Jane matte black styling into a compact and 3G-equipped Windows 8 Pro slate. With a 10.1-inch five-point touchscreen and weighing in at a just comfortable 600g, it competes quite adeptly with the best of its Android and iPad counterparts physically. However, like the ASUS VivoTab TF810C, under the bonnet it packs the full version of Windows, so it can run all your regular desktop applications in addition to newer tablet-optimised ones.
Like the VivoTab, it can unfortunately be a little slow to get the ball rolling sometimes. The Tablet 2 has basically the same internals as the ASUS, with a dual-core 1.8GHz Atom CPU and 2GB of RAM running the show, married to 64GB of rather slow flash storage (you get around 34GB of usable space here, but you can add more via a microSD slot on the tablet’s top edge). That onboard flash memory is a tad faster than ASUS’s, so there’s generally a little less waiting for programs to launch; like on the ASUS, this mostly rears its head with desktop tasks, but overall it’s not quite as quick, slick or consistent as using an iPad or newer Android competitor. At present, that seems to be the trade-off for getting good battery life (which is 8:39hr here at 50% brightness) combined with Windows 8’s broader features and options.
We do like that Lenovo gives you both a stylus and a slot on the left side to stash it in. A stylus doesn’t quite make up for not having a mouse and keyboard, but it can help give you better precision when using desktop programs, especially when navigating small menus and buttons.
For getting stuff on and off the Tablet 2 there’s a single USB 2.0 port protected beneath a rubber flap. Add that to the mini-HDMI port and you have a tablet that’s small and light enough to go anywhere, but also able to be plugged into a monitor and mouse/keyboard combo to become a real (if low-powered) desktop PC.
We do wish Lenovo had provided 4G data capabilities on the Australian model – it’s reportedly available in other locales – but as a neatly portable work device, this one does have all the constituent features to make it a reasonably attractive option. You’ll need something with more horsepower to do really demanding work, but if you want a lightweight computing device that can adapt as needed, this one’s a solid (if a tad overpriced) little package.