IPS Display and Wacom Digital Pen
The ThinkPad Tablet 2's small size and light weight plus digital pen make it an excellent choice for note takers, science and math types who scribe equations and those who use vertical market apps that require pen input. Digital artists: I'd recommend an Intel Core i5 tablet like the Samsung ATIV 700T or Microsoft Surface Pro because graphics and art apps can get a little laggy on the Intel Atom. But for casual art, the ThinkPad Tablet 2 is fine. And no artists, there are no WinTab drivers yet for pressure sensitivity in Photoshop or Corel Painter, but apps that support the newer Windows APIs for pressure sensitivity like ArtRage and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro do offer up to 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. On Lenovo's website, most models include the Wacom digitizer and pen, but some models in retail stores lack the digitizer, so if you want the pen, make sure the model you select comes with the pen. If the pen isn't in the box, then the display digitizer itself doesn't support digital Wacom pens, only capacitive styli. The model that does not include the pen ends with 23U.
The display is sharp, bright and clear. Since it's IPS, viewing angles are very wide and contrast and colors are very good. Granted, at 1366 x 768, resolution isn't cream of the crop, but it's well suited to the relatively small 10.1" LCD size. Since the Windows 8 desktop handles scaling similarly to Windows 7, extremely high resolutions are hard to read unless you increase scaling, negating some of the benefit of having 1080p display. So we're perfectly OK with the resolution given the compromises Windows 8 offers in desktop mode. In terms of quality, colors are warmer and more natural and viewing angles are wider on the Tablet 2 vs. the Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T tablet with the same Intel Atom CPU, Wacom digitizer and 1366 x 768 resolution.
USB Port Gotcha
The USB port has enough power for flash drives, keyboards, mice and game controllers but not external hard drives (even 2.5" portable models) or optical drives, unlike most Windows 8 tablets. That's a strong minus and we're surprised Lenovo went with this limitation. That said, if you use a powered external USB hub (yet another thing to carry) you can use USB hard drives and optical drives.
Horsepower and Performance
Since this runs Windows 8 rather than the RT version, it can run Windows 7 .exe programs, making it a versatile machine. But this is an Intel Atom Z2670 Clovertrail CPU, and that means heavy lifting and serious 3D gaming aren't its strong points. That said, you can install Windows drivers for most any USB device, connect a monitor or projector via HDMI and install apps like Adobe Photoshop and full Office 2013 with Outlook. Don't expect current laptop level performance from demanding apps: launch times are slower, and heavy computational tasks take longer. Photoshop is very usable for images under 20 megs but 3D gaming with Windows 7 3D games from your Steam Library aren't. Casual and 3D games from the Windows Store in the Metro UI do play perfectly well.
The 1.8GHz dual core with PowerVR SGX545 graphics licensed from Imagination Technologies by Intel handles MS Office nicely, and inking in OneNote is a smooth and pleasant experience. The tablet can play HD video up to 1080p and iTunes is usable though not peppy (iTunes isn't the fastest program on any Windows machine).
PCMark 7: 1425
Windows Experience Index (scale of 1.0 - 9.9):
Desktop Graphics: 3.7
Gaming Graphics: 3.3
Primary Hard Disk: 5.5
PC Mark 7 Benchmark Comparison Table, Windows 8 Intel Atom (unless otherwise noted) Tablets:
Battery Life: Oh Yeah!
This is why you're considering an Intel Atom tablet: long battery life, and the Tablet 2 delivers excellent runtimes. Lenovo claims up to 10 hours on a charge and in our tests we routinely get 9 hours with brightness set to a very usable 50%, WiFi on for mixed productivity and leisure tasks including MS Word 2013, email, social networking, editing 10 photos in Photoshop and streaming a 1.5 hour movie in Netflix.
The Lenovo ships with a 5v 10 watt charger that's small like a smartphone or mobile OS tablet charger. That means it doesn't charge very quickly compared to Lenovo laptops with bigger chargers, and it charged from 10% to 100% in 4 hours. The tablet has superb standby times: we literally left it on and sleeping for a week and it had lost only 12% charge. That means you can treat it much like an iPad or Android tablet and leave it on but sleeping until you need it.
Camera and Wireless
The 3G/4G option is very expensive: in the US the ThinkPad Tablet 2 with digital pen and Gobi 4000 HSPA+ and LTE 4G (compatible with AT&T) is $949. Why so much money? We can't imagine. The WWAN 4G model has a full size SIM card slot rather than the now more common micro SIM card slot and it includes GPS functionality. All models have Dual band Broadcom SDIO WiFi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0. The tablet doesn't have NFC.
The ThinkPad Tablet 2 vs. the Competition
The ThinkPad Tablet 2's nearest competitors are the 10.1" Dell Latitude 10 and the Asus VivoTab Smart. The VivoTab Smart is less expensive but has a less robust build and it lacks the Wacom pen. Like the ThinkPad, the Latitude has a strong build and is also available with a Wacom pen. The Acer Iconia Tab W510 also competes in the small Windows tablet space, and though it's a bit more plasticky, it's the only one here to offer an optional keyboard dock that also extends battery life--it's a transformer rather than a pure slate like the other three. The Iconia W510 doesn't work with digital pens, alas.
It's hard to not love this little guy. If you're looking for a small Windows 8 tablet, this is one of the smallest and lightest, yet it's sturdy and ready for the road. Battery life is super and standby times are among the best we've seen on a Windows tablet. The Wacom pen makes drawing and note-taking a pleasure and the IPS display is colorful and crystal clear. The tablet is smart enough to handle business and productivity tasks as well as streaming HD video. But remember, this is an Intel Atom CPU, and the tablet isn't meant to handle demanding tasks like Windows 7 3D games and HD video editing/encoding as your laptop or desktop would.
Price: Starting at $679 for WiFi only model, $949 for WiFi + 3G/4G model
HP Envy x2
Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx
Microsoft Surface Pro
Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T
Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T
Acer Iconia Tab W510