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CES: Lenovo ThinkPad Helix hands-on review

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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.

09 Jan 2013

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