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CES 2015: Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon 3rd-generation hands-on

09 Jan 2015

LAS VEGAS: Lenovo unveiled its third-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook this week, featuring Intel's 5th-generation Core processor to bring the best possible performance for the form factor.

We got a chance to play with the device while running between the booths at CES 2015.

CES - Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon hands-on review - overall

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon looks all but identical to its 2014 predecessor, with the same black finish and red detailing. 

The updated features are subtle, but very welcome. The laptop features an even thinner and lighter chassis, weighing just under 1.3kg and measuring 17.7mm thick, almost a full millimetre thinner than last year's model which measured 18.5mm.

The laptop felt especially light and thin in our hands and we can see it being ideal for travel or business trips. 

Another new feature is PCIe SSD storage in a similar vein to the MacBook Air, which can take advantage of faster onboard SSD drive storage. The laptop will ship with up to 512GB drives.

CES - Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon hands-on review - lid

The Thinkpad X1 Carbon (2015) is available in touchscreen and non-touchscreen versions. The demo unit we tried boasted a 14in, 10-point multi-touch display, with WQHD in-plane switching.

As well as being nicely responsive to touch, the new Thinkpad X1 Carbon's screen is pleasant to look at. Using the Thinkpad X1 Carbon in the brightly lit showroom floor, the ultrabook's display proved suitably bright and remained legible even when hit with stray light.

We were also impressed with its viewing angles, as text remained crisp even when viewing the screen from the side.

CES - Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon hands-on review - thickness

Colours were suitably vibrant and, while not as crisp as the Retina displays seen on Apple Macbooks, the Thinkpad X1 Carbon's screen was far better than those seen on most competing Windows 8 ultrabooks.

The laptop will be available with FHD display options.

Performance and software
Lenovo didn't go for an Intel Core M design and instead opted for the chipmaker's latest 5th-gen Core processor. The model we tested was running a Core i7 chip, and felt super fast in our initial tests.

It seemed to handle Windows 8.1 very well. There was no lag when swiping between pages, and programs popped up almost as soon as we selected them. It handled everything we threw it at with ease.

CES - Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon hands-on review - keyboard

Beyond its performance-boosting powers, the real benefit of Intel's new Broadwell chip architecture is its ability to boost ultrabooks' battery lives.

Lenovo lists the Thinkpad X1 Carbon as being able to last for 10 hours of regular use from one charge, one hour more than last year's Broadwell model.

Intel's Core update packs in 35 percent more transistors than in Intel's previous 4th-generation Haswell CPU, while also shrinking die size by 37 percent, allowing for super powerful machines with form factors like the XPS 13, so expect many more like it to pop up from other OEMs later this year.

In terms of other features, there's wireless connectivity in the form of 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a selection of USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI output.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon starts at $1,249 and will be available in the US from January. UK release dates are yet to be announced.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix hands-on review

12 Sep 2014

Lenovo revealed a range of new phones, all-in-ones and business laptops at IFA in Germany earlier in September. The Chinese firm's most significant unveiling was an update to its Lenovo ThinkPad Helix, unveiled at CES in January.

Taking on the Microsoft Surface tablets and Samsung Ativ series of hybrids, the ThinkPad Helix offers businesses an all-in-one tablet that is also an ultrabook.

Lenovo announces Thinkpad Helix at IFA for businesses - overall

Design and build
The 11.6in ThinkPad Helix features a Gorilla Glass display, weighs 815g and measures just 9.6mm thick, a design that has been made possible by the featured Intel Core M processor, which Intel also announced at IFA during its press conference on Friday.

At first glance the ThinkPad Helix has a lot more in common with its ThinkPad predecessors than other convertible laptops. The product's design features the same minimalist black, hard-edged plastic design associated with all ThinkPad laptops.

Lenovo Thinkpad Helix hands on - dock

It's only when you open it up and look closely that you realise that the ThinkPad Helix is actually a convertible, sporting the obvious left-hand switch that, when popped, separates the tablet section from its dock.

Playing with the ThinkPad Helix, we were fairly impressed by the hinge mechanism's build quality. Despite being made of plastic the connecting section felt sturdy.

Lenovo Thinkpad Helix hands on - keypad

Popping the tablet in and out of the dock a few times, we felt suitably reassured that the section wouldn't break during prolonged use. The same was true of the ThinkPad Helix main tablet section, which also seemed fairly robust.

The 11.6in ThinkPad Helix features a Gorilla Glass FHD display with a 1920x1080 resolution, 10-point multi-touch screen. During our initial tests we found the display boasts great viewing angles, colour and brightness levels.

Testing the screen we found that the ThinkPad Helix was pleasantly responsive, easily picking up and responding to every swipe and poke we threw at it.

Lenovo Thinkpad Helix hands on - stand

Performance and OS
The ThinkPad Helix is designed to offer users ultrabook-level performance, with the top-end version having up to an Intel Core M processor, either 4GB or 8GB of RAM and a range of different storage options such as a 128GB SATA, 256GB SATA eDrive, 512GB PCle or 180GB to 360GB Intel hard drive.

Running Windows 8.1 Pro, the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix has the same five modes as seen on the previous version and the consumer IdeaPad Yoga products, allowing users to put the device into Tablet, Stand, Tent, Laptop and Desktop modes.

In our tests the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix seemed to work flawlessly, with apps and web browser pages popping up instantly. 

Lenovo announces Thinkpad Helix at IFA for businesses - hands on tent

Our initial impressions of the ThinkPad Helix are positive, as it has some worthy upgrades from its predecessor, particularly the Intel Core M processor.

Lenovo added that the ThinkPad Helix also features better power efficiency and battery life compared with its predecessor, as well as a suite of add-on security options, including a biometric fingerprint reader, a military-grade smart card reader and three-factor authentication. We weren't able to test the improved performance or battery life on the IFA showroom floor, but check back soon for a full review. 

With a hefty $999 starting price, which tops many other convertible laptop-tablet hybrids, we're not sure the ThinkPad Helix will attract a great deal of users when it is released worldwide at the start of October.

IFA: Lenovo Tab S8 hands-on review

05 Sep 2014

BERLIN: Since Apple released its original iPad Mini, 8in tablets have become increasingly popular and manufacturers around the world have been releasing a steady stream of the mid-sized devices.

Key players were Samsung's Galaxy Tab S and Note ranges and Acer's latest 8in Iconia tablet, for example. Unperturbed by the strong competition, this IFA Lenovo chose to join the 8in tablet race, unveiling its first ever mid-sized Android tablet, the Tab S8.

Design and build
Unless you pick the yellow colour option, the Tab S8 is fairly unassuming, featuring a round back and sides, and barebones front that's free of noticeable design features. In fact, were it not for the Lenovo stamp emblazoned on the Tab S8, you could easily mistake this for one of Asus' or Acer's existing devices.Lenovo Tab S8 lock-screen

While some may complain about the Tab S8's unassuming design, we didn't really have too much of an issue with it. This is largely because, while not terribly ostentatious the Tab S8 ticks all the necessary design boxes. For starters, measuring in at 210x124x7.9mm and weighing 299g, the Tab S8 is suitably travel friendly and feels comfortable to use, or hold one handed.

Additionally, despite being made of plastic, the Tab S8 doesn't feel too cheap and, from what we've seen, it's reasonably well built. While we didn't get to drop test the Tab S8, its chassis did feel scratch and drop proof.

In a world where tablets regularly break the 300ppi milestone, we were a little disappointed when Lenovo announced the Tab S8 will feature an 8in 1920x1200, 283ppi in-plane switching (IPS) LCD.

However, during our hands on we found the Tab S8's display is pretty impressive, especially when you consider its $200 price tag. Using the Tab S8 on the showroom floor at IFA, while it was occasionally prone to picking up stray light, the display did perform fairly well. Colours, while not on a par with those seen on Samsung Super Amoled tablets' displays, were rich and the Tab S8 featured impressive brightness levels. Text and icons were suitably crisp and we never experienced any serious issues with the display during our hands on.

Operating system
The Tab S8 runs using a customised version of Android 4.4 KitKat. We're not massive fans of Android skins as generally they don't add to the user experience, either making superfluous, or detrimental changes that make Android less user friendly and slow down future updates.

Lenovo Tab S8 app tray

Some of these issues remain true with the Tab S8, which features a number of needless applications and user interface changes that don't really add anything.

For example, in the app menu Lenovo has added a random shortcut icon. This brings up a tab on the bottom of screen with links to the tablet's main settings and theme options, all of which can also be accessed directly from the app menu.

That said, the skin is still significantly lighter than those made by some of Lenovo's competitors, such as Huawei Emotion or Samsung Touchwiz, and most Android users won't take too long to get used to it.

Unlike the majority of manufacturers, Lenovo has chosen not to use a Qualcomm snapdragon chip and has instead loaded the Tab S8 with a quad-core, 1.3GHz Intel Atom processor and 2GB of RAM.

We didn't get a chance to benchmark the Tab S8 during our hands on, but found the tablet was very fast for basic tasks. Webpages opened in seconds, even on the showroom's over-stacked WiFi the Tab S8 ran smoothly.

While we didn't get a chance to see how the Tab S8 ran when faced with more demanding tasks, such as 3D gaming, considering its use of Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics we have high hopes and are keen to see how it performs in our full review.

Tablets of all sizes are yet to really offer anything above average imaging performance when compared with their smartphone siblings and, from what we've seen, this will remain true with the Tab S8.Lenovo Tab S8 back

Testing the Tab S8's 8MP rear camera we found the device is fairly average and images, while more than good enough for sharing on social media, rapidly lost their clarity when zoomed in on. The same remained true when we took a few snaps on the Tab S8's 1.6MP front camera.

Battery and storage
We didn't get a chance to test the Tab S8's 4290mAh battery life, but even if Lenovo's projected seven-hours is true it will still be below average, with most similarly sized tablets lasting at least eight to nine hours before dying. In terms of storage the Tab S8 comes with 16GB of internal space that can fortunately be upgraded using the tablet's Micro SD slot.

The Lenovo Tab S8 will be available from the beginning of September, with prices starting at $199. While we did notice some issues during our hands on, considering its low cost and the inclusion of a powerful Intel processor, there is still plenty to like about the Tab S8 and we can see it being a popular choice for buyers on a budget.

Hopefully our positive opening impressions will ring true when we put the Lenovo Tab S8 more thoroughly through its paces in our full review later this year.

By V3's Alastair Stevenson

Lenovo Vibe X2 hands-on review

04 Sep 2014

When Lenovo announced its desire to purchase Motorola from Google, it made it clear the move was designed to increase its global smartphone presence and let it break into the Western European market.

The Vibe X2 is the latest step in Lenovo's expansion plans and debuts a number of cutting-edge technologies designed to showcase what the Chinese firm has to offer.

Design and build
Lenovo prides itself on the Vibe X2's design, claiming it is the first "layered smartphone" in the world, and we can see why the firm is so keen to boast about it. The Vibe X2 is built from three distinct sections, each of which has a different colour and texture. These range from basic polycarbonate backplate to a more esoteric "wood" finish.

Another interesting design twist, which we sadly didn't get to test during our hands on, is the addition of "Xtensions". These are extra custom covers that add add new functions to the Vibe X2, such as improved sound quality.Lenovo Vibe X2 home screen

Despite being composed of three layers, the Vibe X2 is reasonably thin, measuring in at 7.3mm. The 5in device is also comfortable to hold and feels fairly similar to Sony's range of straight-edged Xperia devices.

We were also reasonably impressed with the Vibe X2's build quality. It felt solid and left us fairly sure that it would survive the odd accidental bump and scrape. The rear backplate's slightly matt finish also felt suitably scratch and blemish resistant.

Display technology is an increasingly important factor for many potential buyers, so Lenovo has configured the Vibe X2 with a 5in, 1080x1920, 441ppi, in-plane switching (IPS) LCD touchscreen. Using the screen on the brightly lit showroom floor we were impressed by how well it performed. Colours on the display were rich and vibrant and the screen showed surprisingly wide viewing angles.

Operating systemLenovo Vibe X2 operating system
Unlike Motorola, Lenovo chose to tweak the Vibe X2's Android 4.4 KitKat operating system with its custom Vibe UI 2.0 skin.

The changes we noticed during our hands on were fairly unobtrusive and amounted to little more than tweaked application icons and menu layouts, but under the hood the Vibe X2 does have a few notable features, one of the most useful of which is its quick-access lock screen.

The feature is designed to let you more quickly access regularly accessed applications from the lock screen using screen taps. It lets you can activate the lock screen from sleep with one tap and access a quick menu with shortcuts to recently opened apps with a second tap. While small, we can see the feature being a selling point for business buyers who regularly have to access emails or check incoming messages on the move.

One of the Vibe X2's most interesting features is its MediaTek eight-core processor, using a mix of ARM Cortex-A17 and low-power Cortex-A7 cores. In a clear shot at Samsung, which has recently launched smartphones and tablets running on its own Exynos "octa-core" chips, Lenovo claims the MediaTek processor is the first "true" processor of this kind and, paired with 2GB of RAM, will allow the Vibe X2 to easily outperform competing handsets.

We found there could be some truth to this claim. During our hands-on, the Vibe X2 moved between windows and open applications smoothly and stutter free, and proved capable of opening multiple content-rich websites in the native browser app hassle free.Lenovo Vibe X2 side

We're keento see how the Vibe X2 performs when faced with more demanding tasks, such as 3D gaming, upon its release later this year.

The Vibe X2 comes with a 13MP rear camera with a back-illuminated sensor and 5MP front camera, which we were also impressed with.

Shots taken on the Vibe X2 looked reasonably vibrant, crisp and had decent colour balance. The only possible issue we noticed was that, on a few occasions, the shutter speed was slightly slower than we'd have liked, which is odd as Lenovo claims the handset has advanced "instant-capture" capabilities.

In terms of shot modes, the unit we had featured all the staple options you'd expect, such as burst, panorama and HDR, plus a more esoteric "beauty mode". The beauty mode works the same way as the equivalent feature seen on Huawei's Ascend P7 and is meant to let users quickly remove blemishes from "selfies". But we really can't see this taking off with business users.

Battery and storage
The Lenovo Vibe X2 comes loaded with 32GB of internal space, which sadly can't be upgraded due to the device's lack of a Micro SD card slot. However, considering the number of cloud-storage services available, we can't see this being too much of an issue for many buyers.Lenovo Vibe X2 back

Past this, the Vibe X2 is powered by a 2,300mAh non-removable battery, which Lenovo claims will easily last a full day's use off one charge. But we didn't get a chance to check this claim during our hands on.

Price and release date
The Vibe X2 will launch in China in September, costing $399 SIM-free. It is currently unclear if the Vibe Z2 or X2 will be released in the UK, though Lenovo has promised to make the phones "available in select regions starting in October".

While it's still unclear if the Vibe X2 will launch in the UK the device is still interesting. Featuring a unique and original design and "true" eight-core mobile processor the Vibe X2 is clear proof that Lenovo wants to establish itself as an innovator in the smartphone industry, and we'd be pleased to find out if it delivers on its promise, if and when it arrives in Europe.

By V3's Alastair Stevenson

CES: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch hands-on review

07 Jan 2014

LAS VEGAS: Lenovo released the original ThinkPad X1 Carbon in 2012 and it was one of a select few unashamedly business-focused ultrabooks.

But despite being lightweight and ultra powerful, the first X1 Carbon's enterprise appeal was hampered by a few issues, chief of which were its lack of Ethernet port and slightly poor non-removable battery. Two years on Lenovo has attempted to address these flaws by releasing a brand new, Intel Haswell-powered version of the X1 Carbon.

Design and build
At first glance the 2014 X1 Carbon looks all but identical to its 2013 predecessor, featuring the same sleek black carbon fibre chassis. It's only when you get closer to the device that you realise it's slightly smaller than the 2013 X1 Carbon, measuring in at 331x226x18.5mm. By comparison the 2013 model was 331x226x21mm.Lenovo X1 Carbon 2014

The 2014 X1 Carbon also features a slightly more impressive array of ports, with two USB 3.0 as well as a single full-size HDMI; OneLink Docking; mDP; and Native Ethernet inputs. Opening up the X1 we also noticed the newly added Adaptive Keyboard.

The Adaptive Keyboard is a capacitive strip that lies on the top of the X1 Carbon's keyboard dock. It is designed to provide users with a choice of touch shortcut keys that dynamically update depending on which application is open.

The feature was fairly useful and responsive. While playing a video file on the X1 Carbon the bar offered basic stop, start, fast forward and rewind keys, but switched to offer home, forward back and refresh keys when we opened Internet Explorer.

The 2014 X1 Carbon is available in touch and non-touch screen options. The demo unit we tried boasted a 14in, 10-point multitouch, 2560x1440 in-plane switching (IPS) display.

As well as being nicely responsive to the touch, the X1's screen was also fairly pleasant to look at. Using the X1 Carbon in the brightly lit showroom floor the ultrabook's display proved suitably bright and remained legible even when hit with stray light. We were also impressed with its viewing angles, with text remaining crisp and legible even when viewing the Carbon's screen from the side.

Colours were also suitably vibrant and, while not as crisp as the Retina displays seen on Apple MacBooks, the Carbon's screen was far better than those seen on most competing Windows 8 ultrabooks.

Operating system
The X1 Carbon comes with Windows 8.1 Pro preinstalled, so the Carbon is running the latest version of Windows. While some businesses are choosing to sit on the fence with Windows 8, upgrading their systems to the more familiar desktop-focused Windows 7, we're big fans of the latest version of Microsoft's operating system (OS).Lenovo X1 Carbon side

As well as featuring full legacy software support, Microsoft has also fixed a number of minor tweaks in Windows 8.1, reinstating a Start button on the Desktop menu's user interface and improving its search capability to let users search the internet as well local menus using the built-in Search setting.

Our demo unit ran using a fourth-generation Intel Core i7 Haswell processor and boasted 8GB RAM. The combination meant that for pure productivity purposes the X1 Carbon was more than powerful enough, and it opened web pages and applications seamlessly.

Sadly we didn't get a chance to properly benchmark or see how the X1 Carbon dealt with more demanding tasks such as 3D gaming or design during our hands-on. But considering its integrated Intel HD graphics we're guessing it will struggle to play most current PC games – meaning its bring your own device appeal could be limited for some users.

As a final enterprise perk, the X1 Carbon also features Intel vPro technology. VPro is a custom technology from Intel designed to protect devices from cyber attacks at a hardware level. Considering the growing number of criminals looking to target corporations, its inclusion is seriously worthwhile.

Battery and storage
Past its performance-boosting powers, the real benefit of Intel's new Haswell chip architecture is its ability to boost ultrabooks' battery lives. Intel claims that thanks to its more energy-efficient design, Haswell chips are able to offer third-generation Core processor-level performance, coupled with Atom-length battery lives. For this reason it's unsurprising that Lenovo lists the X1 Carbon as being able to last for nine hours of regular use off one charge.

Lenovo X1 Carbon closed

We didn't get a chance to battery burn the X1 Carbon to check this, but considering the fact that the X1 Carbon's battery is non-removable it will be a serious pain for business users on the move if it doesn't live up to Lenovo's claims. Storage-wise Lenovo has stocked the X1 Carbon with a generous 512GB of internal space, which should prove more than enough for most regular users.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is confirmed to arrive later in January, priced from $1,299. While we're disappointed at the lack of a removable battery, our opening impressions of the 2014 X1 Carbon are positive. Featuring a powerful and efficient Haswell processor, vPro technology and the latest version of Windows, the X1 Carbon could be one of the most enterprise-friendly laptops available in 2014.

Check back with V3 later this month for a full review of the 2014 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

By V3's Alastair Stevenson


CES: Lenovo ThinkPad 8 Windows 8.1 tablet hands-on review

06 Jan 2014

LAS VEGAS: Small form factor tablets have been increasingly popular in the technology industry. But traditionally these devices have opted to use the mobile-focused Google Android or Apple iOS operating systems, rather than Microsoft's touch-focused Windows 8.

For consumers this isn't too much of an issue as the entertainment offerings on iOS and Android are great. However, for businesses it can be a bit of a pain as neither Android or iOS were ever designed with IT managers' needs in mind.

The Lenovo ThinkPad 8 is a clear move by the Chinese PC maker to amend this problem, offering businesses full Windows 8 Pro and Microsoft Office software in a travel-friendly 8in form factor device.

Design and build
Visually the ThinkPad 8 has the barebones black design synonymous with its namesake, but it is slightly curvier than previous Lenovo tablets, boasting rounded corners and sides. The curves mean that while retaining the unashamedly corporate look of its predecessors, the ThinkPad 8 is very comfortable in hand. This is helped by its small 132x224x8.8mm dimensions.Lenovo ThinkPad 8 front

But we did find the ThinkPad 8 far heavier than other 8in tablets, such as the 331g Apple iPad Mini. We tested the 4G model, which weighed a hefty 439g. The WiFi-only version weighs a slightly lighter 430g.

Ports-wise the ThinkPad 8 is reasonably stocked, with single micro USB 3.0, micro HDMI and micro SD inputs. These mean it should be easy for users to connect the tablet to a monitor and keyboard and turn it into a fully functioning PC.

We were also fairly impressed with the ThinkPad 8's build quality. Despite being built with plastic the ThinkPad 8 felt fairly sturdy in hand. Unlike the larger ThinkPad Tablet 2, the ThinkPad 8's back offered no flex when pressed and in general left us confident it could survive the odd accidental drop or bump.

Lenovo has loaded the ThinkPad 8 with an 8.3in 1920x1200 full HD screen, with 10 finger multitouch, and we were seriously impressed with how well it performed.Lenovo ThinkPad 8 back

On the ultra-bright CES showroom floor, the tablet remained usable, even when hit with direct light. We also found it was wonderfully crisp and featured brilliant brightness and vibrant colour levels. In short, while we wouldn't say the ThinkPad 8's display could match the iPad Mini 2's Retina display, it is still pretty impressive.

Operating system and software
The ThinkPad 8 comes with Windows 8.1 Pro pre-installed. This is a massive plus point for businesses because, unlike Microsoft's Windows RT, Windows 8 Pro is legacy software compatible. This means as well as having the touch-focused tiled Windows 8 interface, businesses can also install and run desktop applications created for older Windows versions; Windows RT tablets by comparison can only run apps from the official Windows Marketplace.Lenovo ThinkPad 8 system info

Lenovo's also bundled the ThinkPad 8 with Microsoft Office, meaning users won't have to shell out extra cash to work on spreadsheets or Word documents using the tablet.

The ThinkPad 8 will feature an Intel Z3770 quad-core 2.4GHz Bay Trail processor with Intel HD Graphics and boast 2GB of RAM. The ThinkPad 8 was very nippy and responsive, being able to open applications and webpages in seconds, and we didn't notice any performance issues.

We didn't get a chance to benchmark the ThinkPad 8 or see how it performed with more demanding tasks, such as 3D gaming, but we'll make sure to do this in our full review.

Battery and camera
Lenovo lists the ThinkPad 8's battery as being able to last for eight hours of regular use from one charge. We didn't get a chance to test this during our hands on, but considering our experience with other Intel Bay Trail-powered devices, eight hours is believable.Lenovo ThinkPad 8 side

The ThinkPad 8 features 2MP front and 8MP rear cameras. Testing the rear camera we found that, while better than most tablets, images taken on the ThinkPad 8 still aren't on a par with those taken on most top-end smartphones. In general we found the images we took on the showroom floor came out looking slightly overexposed and weren't quite as crisp as we'd have liked, though we were shooting in less than ideal conditions.

The ThinkPad 8 is confirmed for release in late January with pricing starting at $399. Overall our hands-on time with the tablet was positive. Coming with a powerful Intel chipset, great screen and featuring all the inherent business perks of Windows 8 Pro, the ThinkPad 8 could be the best choice for businesses on the market for a small form tablet come its release.

Make sure to check back with V3 later for a full review of the Lenovo ThinkPad 8.

By V3's Alastair Stevenson

CES: Lenovo ThinkPad Helix hands-on review

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.Lenovo Thinkpad Helix

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.

Lenovo Thinkpad Helix detached

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.

Intel shows off Windows 8 ultrabooks from Lenovo, Dell and Acer

30 Oct 2012

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.

Lenovo Yoga Windows 8

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.

Acer Aspire S7 Windows 8 ultrabook top

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.

NEC Lavie Z Windows 8 ultrabook

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.

Dell XPS 12 running Windows 8

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.

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