There are a number of companies making inexpensive, mid-size Windows tablets. Lenovo has unveiled one that offers more upscale features for a slightly higher price.
I was able to spend some time with this upcoming model at CES 2014, and came a way with a good first impression.
Build and Design
Like most Windows devices of this size, it does not have an active digitizer, so there’s no support for Wacom pens, etc. (A rare exception to this is the upcoming Asus VivoTab Note 8.)
Mid-size tablets like this one are easier to carry around than a full-size one while offering more display area than a 7-inch model.
This tablet uses the full version of Microsoft Windows 8.1, not Windows RT. Which means it is powered by a x86 processor, an Intel quad-core 2.4GHz “Bay Trail” chip, part of the latest generation from Intel that offer significantly better performance than their predecessors, while also using less power. There’s 2GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of storage, along with a microSD memory card slot.
The ThinkPad 8 is targeted at business users, not consumers, and Lenovo’s demonstration at CES showed off its ability to drive two external monitors, a keyboard, and a mouse simultaneously through its microUSB 3.0 port. That said, Lenovo has been careful to point out that this is not a high-end device — the apps running on those external monitors are Word and Excel, not Skyrm and Grand Theft Auto.
The tablet also sports a microHDMI port for those who would rather hook up an external monitor that way.
There’s an 8MP cameras on the back of the ThinkPad 8, which beats the 5MP ones that are more typical on devices of this size. And Lenovo has developed a nice accessory for it: the QuickShot Cover magnetically attached to the tablet, and includes a flap that can be folded aside to expose just the rear-facing camera when the cover has been flipped around to the rear of this computer.
Lenovo is promising 8 hours of battery life, but that’s something that I’d like to confirm in real-world tests.
The 32GB version of the Lenovo ThinkPad 8 will start at $400 when it launches later this month. That’s a bit higher than many of the other Windows 8.1 tablets that have come on the market lately, but this one sets itself apart from the pack by offering higher specs than the devices that are coming in at $300 or less.