Windows 8 tablets with Intel Atom CPUs were scarce just a few months ago, but now they're popping up with pleasing frequency. And those who wait seem to have the advantage in terms of responsiveness and stability. The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 is one of the newest on the market, and it's remarkably light at 1.3 lbs. and thin too. The tablet runs your choice of Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro 32 bit on the usual Intel Atom 1.8GHz dual core CPU with 2 gigs of DDR2 RAM and 64 gigs of solid-state eMMC storage. It has a 10.1", 1366 x 768 IPS display with 5 points of multi-touch and a Wacom digitizer with 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 on the go. 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 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity.
The Lenovo has a USB 2.0 port, 3.5mm audio port and an HDMI port. Lenovo offers a dock with multiple USB ports, Ethernet and HDMI as well for $99 and there's a Bluetooth keyboard with stand (shown in this review) that sells for $120. It's every bit a ThinkPad keyboard with good key travel, large keys relative to the small 10.1" frame and an optical eraser stick pointer, but it's still cramped compared to 11.6" and 13.3" Ultrabooks and laptops. The keyboard is similar to iPad keyboards that act as stands and use Bluetooth for the connection. It's not a physically secure design nor does it offer an auxiliary battery or backlight. The ThinkPad Tablet 2 is a tablet first, and a laptop stand-in second given the smallish keyboard and Atom CPU.
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 unfortunate, and you'll need a powered USB hub to use HDDs and optical drives.
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 Clovertrail CPU, and that means heavy lifting and serious 3D gaming aren't its raison d'etre. 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. Office runs fluently and Photoshop is actually usable but takes a relatively long time to launch. 1080p video plays fine.
Here's our Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 video review. Our full written review will follow.