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Posted on January 8th, 2014 by Sasha Muller

Lenovo ThinkPad 8 review: first look

Lenovo’s ThinkPad 8 is the first compact Windows tablet to enter the ThinkPad family, and it’s an absolute stunner. With Windows 8.1 powered by quad-core Bay Trail and an 8.4in, 1,920 x 1,200 IPS display, this looks to the be the must-have business tablet.

The hardware

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In a word: gorgeous. The aluminium rear is cast in a pleasingly understated greyish black, and a gentle accent of ThinkPad red skims around the rear 8-megapixel snapper. It’s not as ostentatiously lovely as Apple’s iPad Mini, but from the moment you cradle it in your hand (and you can actually hold it in one hand), it feels every inch the ThinkPad. It’s a premium-feeling, rock-solid tablet – and it weighs a very respectable 430g.

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The optional Quickshot cover is a nice touch, too. It attaches magnetically, just like the Apple Smart Cover, and is finished in a lovely velour effect material which is black on the outside, and bright Thinkpad red on the inside. The party trick is the foldable top corner – flick it back, and it reveals the 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and fires up the camera app. There’s no word on any matching keyboard docks as yet, though – we can only hope.

The display

The display is fantastic. It’s great to see that Lenovo has dumped the 16:9, Full HD panels of consumer devices in favour of a more spacious 16:10, 1,920 x 1,200 panel. The extra vertical breathing room is very welcome, and very noticeable coming after a standard HD panel – as ever, those 120 pixels of vertcial resolution make all the difference.

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Of course, pushing so many pixels inside an 8.4in diagonal means that pixel density reaches a squint-inducing 224ppi, so it is necessary to rely on Windows 8.1’s scaling to keep text and applications at a comfortable size. Still, quality is near-perfect. To the naked eye, the panel is fantastically bright (we’d say it was well over the 400cd/m2 mark), which bodes well for outdoor usage. Colours look balanced and nicely saturated, too.

Desktop power

Behind the scenes, the range-topping Bay Trail CPU, the 1.46GHz Atom Z3770 takes the reins. It’s the same CPU we saw in Dell’s excellent Venue 11 Pro, and that means you can expect a pretty respectable level of performance. We clocked the Dell at 0.38 in our Real World Benchmarks, and we’d expect the ThinkPad 8 to perform very similarly. With the same 2GB of RAM as the Dell, and 32-bit Windows 8.1, the only question is whether the Lenovo’s 64GB eMMC drive will be nippy enough to squeeze the best from the Z3770.

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The level of power afforded by Bay Trail is enough to blaze past pretty much any other compact tablet, but it’s looking likely that the ThinkPad 8 will also be able to double as a very functional desktop. This is down to the presence of a micro-USB 3 port on the ThinkPad 8’s edge – this serves charging duties, but also provides the bandwidth needed to hook up to a docking station back at a desk.

Features

In addition to that micro-USB 3 port, there’s everything else you could ask for. Dual-band 802.11n, optional 3G and Bluetooth 4 serve all your networking needs; there’s expandability via the microSD slot; and the presence of TPM ticks the security box, too.

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The only omission? A stylus. Lenovo told us that it simply wasn’t possible to accomodate one without either shrinking the stylus to uncomfortably tiny proportions, or dramatically increasing the device’s thickness. We’d say it made the right call.

Our verdict

Intel’s Bay Trail has spurred a swell of promising, compact Windows 8.1 devices, and the ThinkPad 8 is one of the most exciting yet. It’d be unfair to cast it purely as a business device, though – there’s no reason that this shouldn’t make plenty of friends in the consumer sector, too. It’s a light, well-built tablet which packs serious power into a 430g chassis.

In fact, the only thing which may put off any prospective purchasers may be the price. With confirmed US pricing putting the Wi-Fi version at $399, and the  QuickCover costing another $49 on top, we suspect the ThinkPad 8 will probably grace UK shores at around the £350 mark. Regardless, this is one tablet we can’t wait to get in for review – keep an eye on PC Pro for the definitive verdict.

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Posted in: CES 2014, Hardware, Random

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20 Responses to “ Lenovo ThinkPad 8 review: first look ”

  1. milliganp Says:
    January 9th, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    However awful people felt Windows 8 was in the beginning and the lacklustre sales of surface it was always inevitable that, sooner or later, someone would get it right. At that price I’d happily pawn my iPad for a device that is fully windows compatible.

     
  2. gazzat5 Says:
    January 9th, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    £350 was what my brother paid for an IBM PII Thinkpad 380z back in the noughties. I think that’s a price we can live with for this quality of kit!

     
  3. Rock Says:
    January 9th, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    You can buy Dell Venue 8 for half of the price, same specs

     
  4. What? Says:
    January 9th, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Dell Venue has a slower processor, lower resolution screen, smaller hard drive and no HDMI output.

     
  5. GeddyBaby Says:
    January 9th, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Not exactly half the price; £284 including offer and VAT for the same storage. Also has a much smaller resolution, lower power processor, no usb3.. I think I can see when the £66 might have gone!

     
  6. wyson Says:
    January 9th, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    @nickallison

    How long do you think Windows Phone 8 has got before Microsoft Handsets gets full fat Windows?

     
  7. Peter C Says:
    January 9th, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    That thinkpad is ruddy, ruddy tempting. I paid £600 for the acer W700 last year and, while it still has a marginally more powerful processor and more RAM, it cost nearly twice as much!

     
  8. ZIM Says:
    January 12th, 2014 at 12:30 am

    My only real concern is the USB power. Like very other 8″ WIN 8.1 tablet on the market, is it going to be USB DEVICES or POWER ONLY? Can you charge the machine while its in this, so called, “Desktop Mode”? Because I know of NO DESKTOP COMPUTER that requires you to unplug it from the AC in order to use the USB ports…

     
  9. nick allison Says:
    January 12th, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    @wyson
    I reckon Win Phone will go through another iteration before the hardware is up to the task of running full fat windows.
    whether WP9 and Win 9RT become one, looks increasingly likely

    This Lenovo, however. I’d love one of them. Its the 3G that really sells it for me.

     
  10. Paul Says:
    January 14th, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Yes please. By the looks of things this pi**es all over the Surface 2 and is a more appropriate size for a tablet. I fully intend to get one despite the excessive $-£ conversion. Its nice to see an article that acknowledges that this device will suit an audience outside of the business market too!

     
  11. Abdulaziz Says:
    January 22nd, 2014 at 7:54 am

    guys help me out here,

    I just purchased a Lenovo Miix2 with cover and stylus, but realized afterwards that the stylus is just like finger input, not a real pressure sensitive stylus.

    now the thinkpad 8 does not have stylus support, does that mean I wont be able to use a stylus pen completely? or just like the case of miix2?

    if its similar to miix2 I think then the thinkpad 8 is a better option between the two.

    thanks…

     
  12. lemonstar Says:
    January 24th, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Any UK release date yet?

     
  13. RainmanP Says:
    January 24th, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    You will probably be able to use a stylus for capacitive screens, the soft rubber tipped kind. These are OK for many uses, but do not have the pinpoint accuracy of an active digitizer and pen which allow for much finer work.

     
  14. lemonstar Says:
    January 27th, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Phoned Lenovo uk (+44 (0) 870 608 4465) – sales guy said device will be available around the end of Feb. At least there is the Asus VivoTab Note 8 tablet with Wacom Digitizer – to consider http://youtu.be/OMBsVMG_aK8

     
  15. Paul Says:
    January 30th, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Anyone notice that the Miix 2 is £349 in the UK and $299 in the US?

    http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/tablets/ideatab/miix-series/miix-2/

    http://shop.lenovo.com/gb/en/tablets/ideatab/miix-series/lenovo-miix2/

    I know they like to charge us a bit extra and there are taxes to consider but to actually charge more pounds than dollars is ridiculous. Double the price. Not holding out for a good price on the thinkpad 8 now!

     
  16. bogdan Says:
    February 1st, 2014 at 7:05 am

    Hi. I see it does not have a stylus, but can I use a third-party one? Thanks.

     
  17. ScruffR Says:
    February 4th, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    As for now, not active digitizer will be supported, since the active digitizer layer in the display is missing.
    Only capacitive pens will work.

    As for the reason why Lenovo has decided against a stylus, because it would have been to thin or the device to thick – that’s just lame!!
    I have the Lenovo TPT2 and hardly use the original pen. I rather use my WACOM Bamboo Feel, so I don’t really care how thin the original is or would be. As as standby it’ll always do – and so would a slightly thinner TPT 8 stylus!

     
  18. HJay Says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Oh yes, I can just see Windows 8 classic desktop in a resolution like that – gonna make stabbing all those close window icons REALLY easy without a stylus ;) – ’scaling up’ is not a solution it’s an impediment. for Metro and apps, maybe. For real Windows use, you’ve got to go 10″+
    And no active digitizer?….. NOT a must-have business tablet, then! lol
    Come on, reviewer, use your brain…

     
  19. Bianca Says:
    March 26th, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    No stylus? No thanks. I dumped IOS ever since Galaxy Note 1, solely because of its stylus. I also bought Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet, due to its stylus, only to be replaced by Galaxy Note 10.1, cause n-trig is awfully lame compared to wacom. Now Lenovo try to sell windows 8 tablet without stylus? Gee good luck. Windows 8 desktop is optimized for mouse and keyboard, where real stylus can be beneficial in case of absence of those two. And good luck writing in one not with crayola stylus. Btw, love Asus vivotab note 8, with its real stylus.

     
  20. P Says:
    April 1st, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    but the vivotab has a crappy screen resolution best suited to the olden days. The first manufacturer to get the features right can have my money..

     

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