09 Jan 2013
LAS VEGAS: The Helix is one of many new ThinkPads to be unveiled by Lenovo at the 2013, Consumer Electronics (CES) show. However, being the company's first tablet-come-laptop hybrid it is debatably the most interesting.
Taking on the likes of the Microsoft Surface and Samsung Ativ-series of hybrids, the Helix seeks to offer businesses an all-in-one tablet that also acts as an ultrabook.
Having beaten the rush to get our hands on the tablet, if our opening impressions are anything to go by, Lenovo may have actually managed to achieve its goal.
Design and build
At first glance the Helix has a lot more in common with its ThinkPad predecessors than other convertible laptops.
The Helix design is unashamedly barebones, featuring the same minimalist black, hard edged plastic design synonymous with all ThinkPad devices.
It's only when you open it up and look up close that you realise the Helix is actually a convertible, spotting the rather unsubtle left hand switch that when popped separates the 21mm tablet section from its dock.
Playing with the Helix we were fairly impressed by the hinge mechanism's builds quality. Despite being made of plastic the connecting section felt sturdy.
Popping the tablet in and out of the dock a few times we felt suitably reassured the section wouldn't break after prolonged use. The same was true of the Helix main tablet section, with it feeling fairly robust.
Our only qualm with the device is that it feels slightly heavier than many other convertible devices weighing a hefty 835g.
The Helix comes loaded with an 11.6in Full HD 1920x1080 pixels, 10-point multi-touch screen. During our opening tests we found that looks very nice, boasting great viewing angles, colour and brightness levels.
Testing the screen we found the Helix was pleasantly responsive, with it easily picking up and responding to every swipe and poke we threw at it.
Another added boon for artistic users, is the inclusion of a Wacom stylus, that sits neatly in the Helix's top edge.
While we didn't have time to do anything but use the stylus to make a few quick doodles, we were impressed with how well it worked.
Using Photoshop Elements, we found the Helix was able to pick up on even minor variations in pressure and angle and are fairly certain it could be used for digital painting and design purposes.
Performance and price
The Helix is designed to offer users ultrabook-level performance with the top-end version coming loaded with an Intel Core i7 processor 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal storage. However, for this, users will have to shell out a massive $1,500.
For those shopping on a budget Lenovo's also confirmed the Helix will be available in Intel i3 and i5 versions, though there is still no official word on how much these lower specced versions will cost.
Overall our opening impressions of the Helix are positive. However, costing over $700 more than other cheaper convertible laptop-tablet hybrids, we're unsure whether the Helix will be able to attract anyone but the wealthiest of users.
With Windows 8 now available, PC manufacturers will be hoping to see improved sales in the coming months after disappointing figures over recent quarters, mostly as firms and consumers awaited the launch of Microsoft's new platform.
Another firm that has plenty riding on this is Intel, which has thrown its weight behind the ultrabook category of devices now entering the market as it aims to boost sales of Windows device, and Windows 8 gives it another opportunity to do just that.
So it was no surprise that the firm held an event in central London on Tuesday showing off a raft of products from its partners such as Lenovo, Dell and Acer running the platform.
V3 popped along to have a look to try out some of the devices on show.
Certainly all the devices had something to recommend them, whether the novel combinations of display options such as the Lenovo Yoga (below) with four different viewing stances: laptop, tablet, ‘tent' or as a single screen, with the keyboard used as the stand at the back.
The device itself was nice to use, with a good quality keyboard and the system responsive to both touch and mouse-based inputs.
We also had a chance to see the new Windows 8 version of the Acer Aspire S7 ultrabook (below). The device has been on the market for a while running Windows 7 and secured a four-star review when we looked at it last year.
Now it's been updated with a touchscreen system so it can run Windows 8 in full and is certainly one of the nicest looking devices on display, with a compact 13.3in screen and weighing a lightweight 1.35kg.
However, if we're talking lightweight then we should probably mention the NEC Lavie Z Ultrabook (pictured below).
Although this isn't available in the UK at present and doesn't run Windows 8 either, the device is hugely popular in Japan for one key reason; its weight. It's just 875g.
The weight of devices is always something touted by manufacturers and usually it worth nothing more than a "yes it's quite light" comment but the NEC device was probably the lightest laptop device we've ever seen; there are paperback books that are heavier.
While it's not set to come to the UK - a shame - it's a good indication of how light laptops could still become. With the portability of tablets often touted as a selling point over laptops devices like this undermine that argument to some degree.
Lastly, no product showcase would be complete without something from Dell, so Intel had brought along the Dell XPS 12 which has a rather nifty rotating screen that can be swivelled within its casing to work as either a tablet or a laptop.
This mean it can also be propped up in the "tent" style akin to the Lenovo Yoga, as pictured below.
Overall, then, it's clear there's no lack of interesting, novel and quality devices from numerous manufacturers on offer for Windows 8, with Intel's technology an integral part of that.
Whether consumers take to the new system and this helps boost flagging sales, though, is another matter.
12 Jan 2012
Lenovo will be the first manufacturer to ship a smartphone with Intel's Medfield processor, a surprise considering the firm's lack of experience in the handheld market.
The K800 is a large high-end device that sports an angular frame, much like Lenovo's ThinkPad range. One of the best features is the 4.5in display with a resolution of 1280x720. We found the video playback was very vibrant and the screen was a good size.
With a thickness of 10mm, the device appears quite chunky compared to other handsets on the market such as the Samsung Galaxy S II and the forthcoming Huawei Ascend PS 1.
The K800 was running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, with a unique overlay. On first glance it didn't even look like the device was running Android. However, we found this to be quite user friendly. Lenovo expects to upgrade the device to Ice Cream Sandwich.
On the home screen there are shortcuts that allow you to access calls, messages, IMs and mails. In the middle is an icon to view contacts. It's not too fancy, and there are options to customise this so we like it. However, questions will remain over how the overlay will impact battery performance. From experience we have seen overlays such as HTC Sense drain a lot of juice.
Performance of the device was very snappy with the Intel Atom Medfield chip running at 1.6GHz and providing more than enough grunt to power applications.
Lenovo provides 16GB of internal memory, but it looks like there wil not be any micro SD support.
It remains to be seen whether the K800 will make it to western markets. We can't help but feel that Intel's reference smartphone is more likely to make an appearance in the UK than this device.