The Bottom Line
Oct 12 2011 - Lenovo's ThinkPad Tablet is a valiant effort to produce a corporate class Android tablet but there are just enough issues with the software that make it a less than perfect choice. It certainly provides a huge number of peripheral connectors that will be useful to anyone traveling and needing to do presentations but they add to the overall bulk of the tablet. The battery life is also below many of its competitors even though it is larger and heavier. The net result is a tablet that has some nice features but there are better alternatives in most cases unless you need the peripheral ports.
- Wide Range of Peripheral Ports
- Nice Textured Surface For Easy Grip
- Below Average Battery Life
- Quick Launch Application Clutters Interface
- One of the Thickest Tablets In Order to Fit Peripherals Ports
- 1GHz NVIDIA Tegra 2 (Cortex-A9) Dual Core Processor
- 1GB Memory
- 32GB Storage
- 10.1-inch WXGA (1280x800) Multitouch Display
- NVIDIA Tegra 2 Graphics
- 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- 2.0 Megapixel Front Camera, 5.0 Megapixel Back Camera
- USB 2.0, micro USB 2.0, mini HDMI, SD Card Slot, Docking Port
- 10.3" x 7.2" x .57" @ 1.63lbs.
- Android 3.1
Review - Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet
Oct 12 2011 - While the Lenovo IdeaPad K1 is targeted at consumers, the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet has the corporate market in mind. In terms of outward appearance, the two tablets look completely different. Functionally, they share much of the same base features and functions. Ovearll, the experience in terms of using the tablet is not unlike pretty much any other Android 3.1 tablet except for the few interface changes made by Lenovo talked about later.
The exterior of the ThinkPad Tablet has more in common with Lenovo's ThinkPad laptop design. It is completely black exterior that has a nice soft finish on the back that makes it easy to grip and carry compared to the slick plastics used by many tablets. One major difference though is the number of exterior buttons. Most Android based tablets have just power and volume buttons. Lenovo has introduced four additional buttons on the bottom of the tablet when held in portrait mode: rotate lock, browser, back and home. For the most part, these buttons aren't that useful other than the rotation lock as they are duplicated within the Android status bar.
Now, the ThinkPad Tablet is relatively thick at over a half inch. This makes it one of the thickest tablets available but this has to do with the large number of peripheral connectors included. In particular, there is a full sized USB 2.0 port hidden behind a sliding door on the lower left corner. This is very useful as the port can be used both for peripheral storage and input devices as well as for charging the tablet. Note that this function needs to be enabled within the settings menu but is handy if you happened to forget the micro-USB cable and power adapter. Another door on the bottom left opens up to an SD card slot and SIM card slot (for 3G versions). This combined with the mini-HDMI port make it extremely flexible for corporate users that might need to transfer data or hook up to make a presentation.
On the upper left of the tablet is a slot that can hold an optional digitizer pen similar to what can be purchased for the HTC Flyer albeit much more affordable. This is useful for those that might want to write notes on the tablet but the included Notes Mobile is hit or miss on translating writing into text. Beyond this, owners will have to purchase compatible pen applications to utilized the pressure sensitive device but finding them can be quite difficult within the various app stores.
Another accessory that is available for the ThinkPad Tablet that many corporate users might consider is the keyboard folio. This is a nicely designed case that also features a Thinkpad style isolated keyboard design in addition to a trackpoint pointer with dedicated pointer buttons. Those using the tablet for frequent document editing or email will benefit greatly from the increased typing speed of the keyboard. Of course, it will increase the overall size to more than some ultraportable laptops though. In addition, the cost of both the tablet plus keyboard accessory is a good deal more expensive than the ASUS EeePad Transformer with its optional keyboard that also includes an extra battery that would nearly double the running time.
All of these features mentioned here are fairly unique to the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet device. At the heart of it, it is still you average Android 3.1 based tablet with a few software tweaks. In fact, the software interface is nearly identical to what was implemented with the IdeaPad K1. This is a major problem because it essentially clutters up the interface which many corporate customers are probably not going to want. The Lenovo Launcher is essentially just a five button quick launch bar with only one of the applications, Email, being really suited to corporate users. In addition to this, there is the six application App Wheel included in the status bar which is at least more discrete.
Outside of the Lenovo tweaks to Anroid OS, they do ship it with a fair number of useful applications. For corporate users, there is the Docs to Go for viewing and editing office documents, Remote Access that allows virtual desktops with Citrix Receiver and McAfee Mobile Security to help protect the tablet. On the entertainment side, there are a number of applications including Netflix, Kindle, Angry Birds and Hardwood Solitaire. Overall, a good mix if not a few too many apps that either consumers or business users might need.
There are two cameras on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet and as with all of the current tablets, image quality leaves much to be desired. There is also some issue with the placement of the tablet. In particular, the front facing camera is position in the upper right when in portrait mode or the upper left in landscape mode. In either case, this means that the tablet must be held off center in order to get your face lines up properly for video conferencing. The mic also seemed to have a few issues with low volume of recorded audio.
For the battery, Lenovo includes a 23.1 WHr capacity lithium polymer battery within the ThinkPad Tablet. This is a bit lower in capacity than the class leading Apple iPad 2 with its 25WHr battery. Since the tablet came shipped with Netflix, I used this for testing initially. It was able to stream for just over four and a half hours before it ran out of battery and shut down. In comparison, the iPad 2 using Netflix was able to stream for six hours with over half its battery capacity left. Now, this can likely be contributed to optimizations of the Netflix software on the two platforms. So, I then ran my normal video playback test with Wi-Fi on and it yielded eight and a quarter hours of usage. This still falls a couple hours short of the iPad 2 and below most other Android tablets.