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Home > Laptop Reviews and Windows 8 Tablet Reviews> Lenovo ThinkPad Twist (S230U)


Lenovo ThinkPad Twist

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What's hot: Relatively affordable, excellent keyboard, IPS display.

What's not: Battery life so-so with HDD option (SSD is better), a well-configured Twist borders on ThinkPad X230t pricing.


Reviewed December 30, 2012 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

The Lenovo ThinkPad Twist joins the small number of convertible Windows 8 tablets to hit the market after the launch of that new operating system at the end of October 2012. The Twist looks like a standard ThinkPad or ThinkPad Edge compact system until you open it up and try out the center swivel hinge that allows you to use the Ultrabook like a laptop, as a tablet or in presentation mode. The 12.5", 350 nit brightness IPS display is sharp and colorful. Better yet, it has 5 points of capacitive multi-touch, though there's no digital pen option as with the ThinkPad X230t.

Lenovo ThinkPad Twist

The ThinkPad Twist is a relatively affordable machine that at first was going to be a part of Lenovo's affordable Edge line, but the company created a new category for the Twist. Like Edge machines, it has that ThinkPad look and Raven black soft touch finish, but the chrome accents and occasional gloss that are telltale Edge touches. Lenovo calls this 3.5 lb. machine an Ultrabook, and though it's a little heavy for that designation, it has all the key elements: third generation Intel Core i3/i5/i7 ULV CPUs, Intel HD 4000 graphics, 4 or 8 gigs of DDR3 RAM and your choice of a spinning hard drive with a small caching SSD or a full 128 gig SSD drive.

Keyboard and Trackpad: ThinkPad Goodness

As you'd expect from a ThinkPad, the Twist is a sturdy and understated laptop with a superb keyboard and very good Synaptics trackpad plus Trackpoint. Alas, the keyboard isn't backlit, but that's our only qualm. The keyboard, as you'd expect from a ThinkPad, is exceptional with good key travel and tactile feedback. The keys are roomy and the "smile" curve makes them comfortable and distinct from each other.

Lenovo ThinkPad Twist

Design and Ergonomics

The build is solid and the unidirectional traditional center swivel hinge that's been used on Windows Tablet PCs for a decade is strong. There is a little bit of wobble when you poke at the screen with a finger, and so far slider designs do the best job of fighting wobble.

Below the soft touch black finish a metal casing keeps the laptop safe from occasional bumps and thumps. As with all ThinkPads, we expect this one to tolerate more abuse than the average plastic notebook. There's no chassis flex and it feels like and is a well made computer. The exterior and keyboard deck are matte but the display surround is a gloss black plastic that cheapens the look a bit. But this is an Edge system, and that means occasional gloss and chrome bits that are flashy and distracting from the overall stately design.

The tablet's power button is on the right edge of the display, as is the rotation lock button. There are volume controls on the Fn row of the keyboard and just below the display so you can access them in tablet mode.


Lenovo ThinkPad Twist


Unlike the 1600 x 900 Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13, the Twist's display is the more common 1366 x 768 resolution. It looks sharp enough, though it's obviously not as razor sharp as full HD displays like that of the Sony Vaio Duo 11 and Dell XPS 12 convertible Windows 8 Ultrabook-tablets. Still, this is a high quality IPS display with wide viewing angles and good colors, and it's protected with Gorilla Glass. The display is glossy and it does have the usual glare you'd expect from a Gorilla Glass gloss display. The 350 nit display has good brightness and it supports 5 points of capacitive multi-touch but there is no digital pen option (you can use a capacitive stylus, which is less accurate).


Deals and Shopping:


Lenovo ThinkPad Twist Video Review


The ThinkPad Twist has two USB 3.0 ports (one on each side), a mini HDMI port (we'd actually prefer micro HDMI or full size since those are both more commonly used), a mini DisplayPort (perfect for driving higher than 1080p monitors), a 3.5mm combo audio jack, an SD card slot and an Ethernet jack. It has the traditional barrel charging connector rather than Lenovo's new compact rectangular port used on some of their skinnier systems. There is currently no fingerprint scanner with TPM option, though the tablet does have a 3G SIM card slot (in the US we currently can't order it with a 3G module however).

Performance and Horsepower

Our review unit shipped with the usual 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U ULV Ivy Bridge CPU with Turbo Boost to 2.6GHz, 4 gigs of RAM and a 128 gig SSD. The configuration sold at Staples stores for $899 has the same internals except the drive, which is a 500 gig HDD SATA drive with a 24 gig mSATA SSD caching drive to speed up boot and launch times. If you're a self-upgrader, you can upgrade the drive yourself at a later date by purchasing a SATA 2.5" SSD drive.

If you order from Lenovo's website, you can go with an SSD drive and there's a 1.9GHz dual core Intel Core i7-3517U option with Turbo Boost to 3GHz. RAM is apparently soldered to the motherboard and you can only get 8 gigs if you opt for the Core i7 CPU. All Twist models ship with Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics, and that's a capable GPU that can handle moderate gaming, though we wouldn't call an Ultrabook with integrated graphics a gamer's machine. It can handle World of Warcraft and Left4Dead 2 at native resolution at better than 30 fps. The Twist can handle 1080p playback easily as well as productivity apps like MS Office, web browsing, email and social networking as well as Adobe Photoshop and other more demanding applications. While it lacks the pure computational speed of the ThinkPad X230t with full mobile Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs, it offers enough power for the average user and then some (the same is true of most Ultrabooks).


PCMark07: 4324 (1.7GHz Core i5, 4 gigs RAM and 128 gig SSD)

Windows Experience Index (scale of 1.0 - 9.9):

Processor: 6.9
RAM: 5.9
Desktop Graphics: 4.4
Gaming Graphics: 6.1
Primary Hard Disk: 8.1

Benchmark Comparison Table, Windows 8 ULV Notebooks:

  Lenovo ThinkPad Twist Sony Vaio Duo 11 (Core i5) Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 (Core i5) Dell XPS 12 (Core i5) Toshiba Satellite S955 Asus VivoBook Q200 (Core i3)
PCMark 07 4324 4772 4427 4678 1970 1523


The ThinkPad Twist vs. the Lenovo ThinkPad X230t

What's the difference between the ThinkPad Twist and the Lenovo ThinkPad x230t? The Twist is approximately $300 less, and it runs on slower ULV CPUs rather than the full mobile CPUs used in the X230t. The X230t is available with either touch or a digital pen (but not both) and has a matte display vs. the glossy Gorilla Glass-clad Twist.

Battery Life

As is the norm for Ultrabooks, the ThinkPad Twist's Lithium Ion Polymer battery is sealed inside. The 42.4Whr battery is ample enough, but as with other Windows 8 touchscreen convertibles and Ultrabooks, runtimes aren't terribly impressive. Our machine gets a boost from the power-frugal 128 gig SSD drive, and we've averaged 4.5 hours on a charge with brightness set to 50%, WiFi on and Bluetooth off. Our test includes a mix of productivity work with MS Office, email set to check at 15 minute intervals, web browsing, social networking and 30 minutes of streaming HD video playback. Users with the standard issue 500 gig HDD have reported 3.5-4 hour runtimes.


The Lenovo ThinkPad Twist has relatively little competition in the convertible Windows 8 touchscreen camp. In fact, Lenovo's own IdeaPad Yoga 13 may be its biggest competitor. Even in a more populated field, we can see why the Twist has sold so well since it came out: the price is very reasonable, the laptop offers capable performance, a sharp and bright IPS display, a fantastic keyboard and Lenovo's usual sturdy build quality. The 12.5" laptop is also very portable and the center-swivel hinge is a thing of practical and timeless functional beauty. Our only complaint? We'd love to see longer battery runtimes.

Price: Starting at $829



Lenovo ThinkPad Twist


Lenovo ThinkPad Twist


Lenovo ThinkPad Twist


Lenovo ThinkPad Twist


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Display: 12.5", 1366 x 768 LED backlit IPS 350 nit display with 5 points of capacitive multi-touch. Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. Mini HDMI and mini display Ports.

Battery: 42.4 Whr Lithium Ion rechargeable, sealed inside.

Performance: 1.7GHz Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5-3317U ULV CPU, 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-3517U optional (both with Turbo Boost). 4 gigs of DDR3 RAM on Core i5 and 8 gigs on Core i7 (soldered to motherboard). Available with 500 gig 5400 RPM hard drive and 24 gig SSD caching drive or SSD drive only.

Size: 12.3 x 9.3 x 0.80 inches. Weight: 3.48 pounds.

Camera: 720p webcam and mic.

Audio: Built in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack. Realtek HD audio with Dolby Home Theatre 4.0 audio.

Networking: Integrated dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n (Broadcom and Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 options) and Bluetooth 4.0 + HS. Realtek Gigabit with Ethernet RJ45 jack.

Software: Windows 8 64 bit, Windows 8 Pro also available.

Expansion and Ports: 1 SD card slot, mini HDMI, mini DisplayPort, two USB 3.0 ports, 3.5mm combo audio jack and Ethernet RJ45.



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