LAS VEGAS: LENOVO IS REIMAGINING its ThinkPad X line-up, bringing a convertible, bendable and now modular 2-in-1 with the launch of the ThinkPad X1 Tablet.
Lenovo told us at CES that the firm carried out in-depth customer research for the first time in 10 years to find out exactly what IT professionals want from a device.
The fruit of this research is the ThinkPad X1 Tablet, a hybrid tablet/laptop that allows three different modules to be attached: a battery boosting performance module, a 3D imaging Intel RealSense module and an add-on that turns the ThinkPad into a makeshift projector.
Lenovo's X1 Tablet follows in the footsteps of Microsoft with a built-in kickstand and add-on keyboard, but doesn't leave its ThinkPad heritage behind, offering a solid, robust design that looks as slick, although somewhat masculine, as it is sturdy. The ThinkPad X1 Tablet also features a removable rear panel for easy servicing and upgrades to further appeal to professionals.
Lenovo is aiming the device at on-the-go workers, so it's no surprise that the device is light at just shy of 735g, or 1.08kg with the keyboard cover attached. It's about what we'd expect from a 12in device.
The keyboard is the best thing about the device. Lenovo has brought its AccuType keys and TrackPoint to the add-on keys, which makes the keyboard just as satisfying to type on as a traditional laptop.
The X1 Tablet has one USB 3.0, one USB Type-C for charging and data, a mini DisplayPort, a microSD port, an audio jack and a nanoSIM slot, and is the first to offer LTE-A connectivity.
But the most interesting thing about the ThinkPad X1 Tablet is the add-on modules, which snap easily onto the bottom of the tablet. The battery add-on promises to equip the device with an extra five hours of battery life, taking the total to 15 hours, while the Intel RealSense module can capture and scan images in 3D.
We got to see the projector module in action (below). It adds a mini Pico projector to the X1 Tablet, and performed impressively even under the bright lights of the showroom.
There are only three modules at present, but Lenovo said that it is developing more and that all future add-ons will be backwards compatible.
The ThinkPad X1 Tablet has a 12.1in 2,160x1440 IPS display. The screen was bright and competent enough, but seemed somewhat drab when compared with the OLED display on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga.
Lenovo has equipped the ThinkPad X1 Tablet with support for its Active Stylus, which can be picked up separately, in a bid to further position itself alongside Microsoft.
Performance and software
Lenovo has fitted the ThinkPad X1 Tablet with a 6th-generation Intel Core M processor, rather than Intel's latest and greatest Core i5 and i7 processors, mimicking Acer's Aspire Switch 12 S 2-in-1.
This fanless chip makes for a slim design and silent operation, but we've previously found the performance of the dual-core chip uninspiring. It will cope well with everyday tasks, but the ThinkPad X1 Tablet is unlikely to perform like a top-end device when put under pressure. We'll reserve full judgement until we've put the device fully through its paces.
Like most of the devices unveiled at this year's CES, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 will ship with Windows 10, which means you can expect a near identical software experience to that offered by the Surface Pro 4.
Lenovo continues to prove itself as one of the most innovative PC makers out there, and the ThinkPad X1 Tablet with its modular design is a prime example.
However, there's no denying that the device has limited appeal. Each add-on will be sold separately, and it remains to be seen how many business folk will see the need for an add-on projector or 3D camera. µ