Lenovo Miix 2 8in review
A competent Windows tablet let down by a disappointing screen and a lack of video output
The compact cousin of the Lenovo Miix 2 10in, the Miix 2 8in, is not only the first compact Windows tablet from Lenovo we've reviewed, but one of only a handful of compact Windows tablets on the market. Like its larger stablemate, the 8in Miix 2 is generously equipped, both in terms of core hardware and ports, and at first glance it's a handsome piece of kit. See also the 11 best tablets of 2014
Tall at 215mm, but surprisingly thin at only 8.5mm, the Miix 2's lean, 9mm bezels make the 8in screen seem even longer and broader than you'd expect. Turn the tablet over and it still looks good, the slightly dimpled, gunmetal-grey plastic back panel broken only by a similarly textured Lenovo logo and a thick band of smooth, silver plastic along the bottom.
It's an understated design that, coupled with the Miix 2's extra size, gives it the look of a grown-up compact tablet. However, while it may look attractive, it isn't the best made tablet we've come across, exhibiting a worrying amount of flex and bendiness when twisted.
The Miix 2 has a reasonably generous array of connections, with a microSD slot, a 3.5mm audio jack and a micro-USB port that doubles as the tablet's charging point. We were a little disappointed with the lack of a dedicated video output, though, and the Miix 2's micro-USB port isn't MHL-compatible. Since one of the strengths of Windows tablets is their ability to be put to use as an occasional work machine, that's a disappointment. There's also no 802.11ac Wi-Fi, the tablet instead boasting dual-band 802.11n.
In real-world use, we found the tablet delivered quick and fluid browsing around Windows 8.1 and the web, while the Miix 2's 4,730mAh battery helped it to a time of 9hrs 37mins in our looping video test. It isn't the longest-lasting tablet around, but it should get you through at least a day on a full charge.
While graphical grunt may be weak by laptop standards, for a compact tablet it's actually pretty good. Intel's integrated HD Graphics chip delivered a smooth performance in our tests, finishing the onscreen GFXBench T-Rex HD test with an average frame rate of 21fps, and even graphically demanding games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne ran well, with no visibly dropped frames.
The 8in 1,280 x 800 IPS panel's LED backlight reached a respectable 395cd/m2 at maximum brightness, so outside use isn't out of the question. However, competent screen luminance is pretty much the only thing this display has going for it.
The contrast ratio of only 410:1 leads to limp, washed-out colours, grey-looking black and anaemic skin tones. We'd consider this obstructive to our enjoyment of any tablet, but on a tablet costing £330 it's unforgivable. In addition, the relatively low resolution means text appears pixellated when you hold the tablet at a natural distance.
Finally, the Miix 2's 5-megapixel rear camera is fine for taking casual snapshots outside, but in low-light it produces noisy, smeary photographs, and the 2-megapixel front camera suffers from the same problems.
With some adjustments, the Lenovo Miix 2 8in might have been a contender for the A-List crown; it's generously equipped, attractive and fast, and it even comes with a copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student preloaded, however, we simply can't get over that washed-out display, the lack of video output and the high price. In a market where competition is fierce, and prices cutthroat, this tablet simply hasn't got it where it counts.
|Price ex VAT||£275|
|Price inc VAT||£330|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Features & Design||4|
|Value for Money||2|
|Dimensions||132 x 8.5 x 215mm (WDH)|
|Resolution screen horizontal||800|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,280|
|Display type||IPS touchscreen|
|CPU frequency, MHz||1.3GHz|
|Camera megapixel rating||5.0mp|
|Built-in flash type||N/A|
|Upstream USB ports||1|
|Mobile operating system||Windows Phone 8.1|