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CES: Lenovo Thinkpad Helix hands-on review

We take a look at the firm's latest Windows 8 tablet-ultrabook hybrid
Thu Jan 10 2013, 15:17

LAS VEGAS: THE THINKPAD HELIX is one of many new Thinkpad laptops to be unveiled by Lenovo at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. However, as the company's first tablet-laptop hybrid, it is perhaps the most interesting.

Taking on the Microsoft Surface tablets and Samsung Ativ series of hybrids, the Thinkpad Helix offers businesses an all-in-one tablet that is also an ultrabook.

Having pushed past the crowds to get our hands on the device, if our first impressions are anything to go by, Lenovo might have managed to achieve its goal.

Design and build
At first glance the Thinkpad Helix has a lot more in common with its Thinkpad predecessors than other convertible laptops. The product's design is unashamedly barebones, featuring the same minimalist black, hard-edged plastic design associated with all Thinkpad laptops.

It's only when you open it up and look closely that you realise that the Thinkpad Helix is actually a convertible, sporting the obvious left hand switch that when popped separates the 21mm tablet section from its dock.

Lenovo Thinkpad Helix

Playing with the Helix, we were fairly impressed by the hinge mechanism's build quality. Despite being made of plastic the connecting section felt sturdy.

Popping the tablet in and out of the dock a few times, we felt suitably reassured that the section wouldn't break during prolonged use. The same was true of the Thinkpad Helix main tablet section, which also seemed fairly robust.

Our only qualm about the device is that it is slightly heavier than many other convertible devices, weighing a hefty 835g.

Screen
The Thinkpad Helix comes with an 11.6in 1920x1080 resolution 10-point multi-touch screen. During our initial tests we found that looks very nice, boasting great viewing angles, colour and brightness levels.

Testing the screen we found that the Thinkpad Helix was pleasantly responsive, easily picking up and responding to every swipe and poke we threw at it.

Lenovo Thinkpad Helix detached

Another feature for artistic users is a Wacom stylus that sits neatly in the Thinkpad Helix's top edge. While we didn't have time to do anything but use the stylus to make a few quick doodles, we were impressed with how well it worked.

Using Photoshop Elements, we found the Helix was able to pick up on even minor variations in pressure and angle and are fairly certain that it could be used for digital painting and design purposes.

Performance and price
The Helix is designed to offer users ultrabook level performance, with the top-end version having an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. However, for this, punters will have to shell out a massive $1,500.

For those shopping on a budget, Lenovo has said that the Thinkpad Helix will also be available in Intel Core i3 and Core i5 processor versions, although there is no word on how much these lower specification versions will cost.

Overall
Our initial impressions of the Thinkpad Helix are positive. However, since it is priced at over $700 more than other convertible laptop-tablet hybrids, we're unsure whether the Thinkpad Helix will be able to attract anyone but the wealthiest of users. µ

 

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