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CES: Lenovo Thinkpad 8 hands-on review

8in tablet runs Windows 8.1 and Intel Bay Trail processor
Wed Jan 08 2014, 11:30

LAS VEGAS: SMALL TABLETS are becoming increasingly popular, but traditionally these devices have opted to use the mobile focused Google Android or Apple iOS operating systems, rather than Microsoft's Windows 8.

The Lenovo Thinkpad 8 is a clear move by the Chinese PC maker to amend this problem, offering full Windows 8 Pro and Microsoft Office software in a travel friendly 8in tablet.

Design and build
Visually the Thinkpad 8 has the barebones black design synonymous with its namesake, but it is slightly curvier than previous Lenovo tablets, boasting rounded corners and sides. The curves mean that while retaining the unashamedly corporate look of its predecessors, the Thinkpad 8 is very comfortable in the hand. This is helped by its small 132x224x8.8mm dimensions.

Lenovo ThinkPad 8 front

However we did find the ThinkPad 8 far heavier than other 8in tablets, such as the 331g Apple iPad Mini. We tested the 4G model, which weighed a hefty 439g. The WiFi-only version weighs a slightly lighter 430g.

The Thinkpad 8 is reasonably stocked with ports, with single microUSB 3.0, microHDMI and microSD inputs. These mean that it should be easy for users to connect the tablet to a monitor and keyboard and turn it into a fully functioning PC.

We were also fairly impressed with the Thinkpad 8's build quality. Despite being constructed out of plastic the Thinkpad 8 felt fairly sturdy in the hand. Unlike the larger Thinkpad Tablet 2, the Thinkpad 8's back offered no flex when pressed and in general left us confident that it could survive the odd accidental drop or bump.

Lenovo has configured the Thinkpad 8 with an 8.3in 1920x1200 resolution full HD screen with 10 finger multitouch, and we were impressed with how well it performed.

Lenovo ThinkPad 8 back

On the ultra-bright CES showroom floor, the tablet remained usable, even when hit with direct light. We also found the display was wonderfully crisp and featured brilliant brightness and vibrant colour levels. While we wouldn't say that the Thinkpad 8 display can match the iPad Mini 2 Retina display, it is still pretty impressive.

Operating system and software
The Thinkpad 8 comes with Windows 8.1 Pro pre-installed. This is a big plus point for businesses because, unlike Microsoft's Windows RT, Windows 8 Pro is legacy Microsoft software compatible. This means that as well as having the touch-focused tiled Windows 8 Modern interface, businesses can also install and run desktop applications created for older Windows versions. Windows RT tablets by comparison can only run apps from Microsoft's Windows Marketplace.

Lenovo ThinkPad 8 system info

Lenovo has also bundled the Thinkpad 8 with Microsoft Office, meaning that users won't have to shell out extra cash to work on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or Microsoft Word documents with the tablet.

The Thinkpad 8 features an Intel Z3770 quad-core 2.4GHz Bay Trail processor with Intel HD Graphics and boasts 2GB of RAM. The Thinkpad 8 was nippy and responsive, being able to open applications and webpages in seconds, and we didn't notice any performance issues.

We didn't get a chance to benchmark the ThinkPad 8 or see how it performed with more demanding tasks, such as 3D gaming, but we'll make sure to do this in our full review.

Battery and camera
Lenovo lists the ThinkPad 8's battery as being able to last for eight hours of regular use from one charge. We didn't get a chance to test this during our hands-on, but considering our experience with other Intel Bay Trail powered devices, eight hours of battery life is believable.

Lenovo ThinkPad 8 side

The Thinkpad 8 features 2MP front and 8MP rear cameras. Testing the rear camera we found that, while better than those on most tablets, images taken on the Thinkpad 8 still aren't on a par with those taken on most top-end smartphones. In general we found that the images we took on the showroom floor came out looking slightly overexposed and weren't quite as crisp as we'd have liked, though we were shooting in less than ideal conditions.

First impressions
The Thinkpad 8 will be released in late January with pricing starting at $399. Overall our hands-on time with the tablet was positive. Coming with a powerful Intel chipset, great screen and Windows 8 Pro, the Thinkpad 8 could be a good choice for business users on the market for a small tablet. µ


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