Review: Updated: Lenovo Thinkpad Helix

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Hey business travelers, if you found a magic lamp in the overhead compartment on your next flight, exactly what’d you want? Limitless regular leaflet miles? Free first class upgrades for life? Leg space the length of a bowling lane? Or possibly you ‘d dream huge and try to lighten the tons in your continue?

Lenovo is no genie, however that’s one wish it’s wanting to provide. Its ThinkPad Helix is a convertible ultrabook, a Windows 8 tablet that hooks into a custom dock for laptop style productivity.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix review

Lenovo has actually had the ThinkPad name considering that acquiring it from IBM in 2005. Its kept the brand name’s reputation with exceptional notebooks like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, however its ventures into hybrid devices have been more mixed.

While the ThinkPad Helix enhances on the design of devices like the ThinkPad Tablet 2, it’s not a Windows 8 dream machine. Lenovo has made some doubtful design selections with the Helix, consisting of an overhaul of the ThinkPad’s signature trackpad that can dismay its most specialized fans.

It’s also priced the Helix into the upper echelons of the ultrabook market, with setups starting at $1,649. That’s a heavy asking cost for an equipment packing Ivy Bridge, not Haswell, the brand-new Intel chip that’s providing a dozen hours of battery life for the new MacBook Air.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix review

When we initially saw the ThinkPad Helix at CES 2013, our interest was piqued. Lenovo machines are popular for sound building, and if there was ever a design that needed some love, it’s the convertible ultrabook. But also that was months ago, and the Helix may be too late to the game.

So should you go all in with the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix? Or keep letting your shoulder suffer with a different tablet and laptop computer? Note that either option is more affordable than those obscene first class ticket rates.

Design

Lenovo understands the best ways to make a laptop for the fit and briefcase group, which appears to be the target audience for the ThinkPad Helix. The equipment has a matte black done with a number of red highlights. It produces an appearance that’s subdued if not terribly appealing. It’s a rubbery feel that makes it easy to grip and enjoyable to hold.

It’s on the chunkier end of the ultrabook picture, with the tablet considering 1.73 lbs, 3.54 lbs when joined with the keyboard stand. The tablet gauges 11.66 x 7.37 x 0.46 inches. Docked with with its keyboard, it’s 11.66 x 8.90 x 0.80 inches.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix review

The Helix dock has 2 hooks that slide into the tablet and hold it in location, and a switch to the left to release it. It can be somewhat finicky to line it up right, but also you can rest assured that it’s a protected connection. That’s one of the greatest advantages the Helix hases more than the ThinkPad Tablet 2: it cannot tumble out of its dock, and it can fold up clamshell style like a true laptop. It’s the more mobile device of the two.

The Helix’s dock does even more than offer a keyboard. It in fact has its own battery and followers, so the Helix gets added long life when its linked, and its processor overclocks for an obvious efficiency boost.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix review

The expense of this is ugly fans hidden behind an odd plastic flap. It’s among lots of problems we’ve about the Helix’s overall design. Like all convertibles, it’s leading heavy. This is not really an issue when you are using it at a desk, however on your lap or the sofa, it’s vulnerable to toppling in reverse.

It’s likewise tough to open the Helix with one hand. There’s no groove to grab it by, and if you just raise the screen without keeping the base, the 2 don’t different.

We are likewise not insane about the tiny, sunken on/off and volume switches on the tablet. They are you need a fingernail to press them. When you are utilizing the Helix as a tablet, it’s outrageous you cannot utilize the easy to press, prominently put Windows button to wake the gadget.

Display

Like a Surface Pro and a lot of Windows 8 slates, the tablet has a large type factor. It’s uncomfortable to type on the Helix tablet while holding it, unless you’ve thumbs like an orangutan you’ll want to select the split onscreen keyboard.

The tablet is likewise very tall when held in picture alignment. We felt a bit goofy holding it that way when doing some Kindle reading.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix review

It’s a facet ration that’s not terrific in the hand, but also excellent for seeing videos. It’s a complete 1080p display, so Netflix and YouTube all look fantastic. Nevertheless, that ultra high native resolution makes the desktop and its apps look eye-strainingly small.

To battle this, we discovered ourselves zooming in on Google Chrome pages before just dropping the resolution to 1600 x 1900, a lot for full 1080p. All the Windows 8 apps looked great though, this is truly simply a desktop problem.

Keyboard and touchpad

Lenovo notebooks are understood for having fantastic keyboards, which reputation comes through for the ThinkPad Helix in spades. A great deal of convertible keyboards, like the one on the Acer Iconia W510 and ThinkPad Tablet 2, are either cramped or don’t have keypress depth. That’s not the case with typing on the Helix.

The keyboard has been truncated in some small means, like a little smaller arrow keys. The function keys each pull double responsibility, however you can toggle on and off a function lock that prevents this.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix review

There’s no backlight on this keyboard, which is a pity, and keys like caps lock don’t radiance when engaged. Instead Lenovo has constructed in on display cues to let you know when they are active.

Minor quibbles aside, the general typing experience on the ThinkPad Helix is excellent. We ‘d say this is the best keyboard we have used on a hybrid machine. The secrets are slightly curved and equally spaced, with adequate depth to journalism that they are entirely useful. For our cash it quickly bests the kind cover on the Microsoft Surface.

The touchpad, however, is a various story. Lenovo has actually eliminated the devoted click buttons found on past ThinkPads and rather made the touchpad itself clickable. You can click by weighing down, or with a quick tap, anywhere on the pad. It likewise has multi-touch recognition, so a 2 finger tap is a right click, and moving with 2 fingers is a scroll.

There are likewise multi-finger motions, similar to exactly what you’ll discover on a MacBook, however optimized for Windows. For instance, a four finger swipe switches between the tiled Start display and the desktop computer.

The gestures are great, but also the touchpad has been divided into various zones that overcomplicate things. If you scroll with 2 fingers to the top of the pad, the Helix starts to scroll till you choose your fingers up. It’s too simpler to trigger on mishap and blow past exactly what you wish to see.

Basically, the touchpad feels finicky, and will likely annoy traditional ThinkPad fans. A minimum of they’ve the trackpoint to fall back to.

The Helix also comes geared up with a stylus, which you’ll discover helpful if you plan to use a note taking app. Otherwise it’s an excellent way to browse the desktop when you are in tablet mode. It provides accuracy that you’ve to strike little things like a YouTube pause button or the X to close a window.

Specifications

Those are the specifications for our testimonial unti, which retails for $1,679. Right off the bat, it’s a real pity that the ThinkPad Helix isn’t a Haswell machine. While Intel’s brand-new fourth generation chip doesn’t provide a lot of extra processing power, it’s created to offer prolonged battery life. That would have been best for this machine.

Not that the Helix misbehaves on power consumption. It really includes rather respectable battery life, but also all day battery would assist justify the premium cost.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix review

For ports, the Helix tablet has USB 2.0, a mini displayport, a full size SIM card slot (making it 3G and 4G LTE capable) and a headset jack. It needs to be kept in mind that every one of these ports and slots, with the exception of the headphone jack, are on the bottom of the tablet and become inaccessible once the tablet has actually been docked.

The dock offers its own set of ports to compensate. You’ll discover 2 USB 3.0 ports, and a mini displayport all lined up along the back of the dock.

The Lenovo ThinkPad Helix’s SSD is available in three sizes: 128, 256 and 386 increments. It can also be updated to 8GB of RAM.

Performance and battery life

A 1.8 GHz processor and 4GB of RAM could appear small on paper, however in practice the ThinkPad Helix is a surprisingly capable machine. Both the Windows 8 tiled user interface and desktop computer ran efficiently on our review space.

Browsing in either Chrome or Internet Explorer, we could get a lots tabs preceding efficiency began to chug. This is with the tablet docked in its valuable stand, which offers additional cooling and permits the processor to overclock a little.

The efficiency improvement is obvious, and the followers produce minimal noise. This is by no implies a gaming machine, however we’d the ability to play some Half Life 2: Episode 2 with an acceptable framerate.

The stand likewise offers additional battery life. With its help, we typically got 7 to 8 hours of internet browsing and word processing. As just a tablet, the Helix got in between 5 and 6 hours. That’s not bad at all, certainly much better than a Surface Pro, but also one cannot help however consider what Haswell might have done for this equipment.

Verdict

When we initially saw the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix at CES 2013, it had us actually thrilled. We thought Lenovo had finally fractured the convertible ultrabook, a design we have never been absolutely offered on.

But that was months ago, in a pre-Haswell, 12-hour MacBook Air world. The ThinkPad Helix is better late than never, however its $1,679 cost point inconveniences to recommend. Why? Let’s break it down for you.

We liked

The ThinkPad Helix’s keyboard is the very best we’ve actually seen on a convertible machine. In our opinion, it’s as small as you can go without getting cramped and awkward, and it still offers essential presses that’ll please typists used to banging away on a typical notebook keyboard.

The 1080p screen is an excellent kind element and resolution for watching videos. The viewing angles are wide and there’s not a noticeable pixel to be discovered.

The trademark ThinkPad matte black done with areas of red comes as a result of for the Helix. It’s a controlled, stylish and conservative design that’ll please the business group it’s created for.

The Helix also has great battery life, for an Ivy Bridge machine. About 7 hours docked, 5 to 6 as simply a tablet is a competitive providing.

We disliked

Again, it’s actually a shame that this isn’t a Haswell machine. Intel’s new chip might have reinforced the Helix’s currently strong battery performance to an incredible degree.

The touchpad on the Helix is going to prove dissentious. We liked the Windows 8 gestures, but the autoscroll zone hindered more often than not. There are some thoughtful ideas right here, but also it’s unintuitive overall.

The ThinkPad Helix is likewise very expensive, $500 more than a Surface Pro. We dislike to keep harping about the MacBook Air, however consider this: you can get the base model of Apple’s brand-new ultrabook and a retina iPad for this cost. That makes the ThinkPad Helix a really suspicious value, useful convertible design or not.

And pertained to consider it, simply how handy is that convertible design? You wind up with an ugly flap on the back of your device, and an awkwardly sized tablet with buttons so sunken they’ll make you reconsider when cutting your nails. Its top heavy design is also rather tippy on anything but a nice flat desk.

It’s also irritating that the equipment’s high end resolution makes the desktop computer so small it’s nearly illegible. Thank goodness there’s a stylus to help you poke and prod all those little icons, but also good luck reading anything unless you focus or decline the resolution.

Final Verdict

In regards to functionality, the ThinkPad Helix is one of the best convertible ultrabooks out there. It’s decently powerful, has capable battery life and a keyboard that can actually get some typing done. It likewise has a 1080p screen that’s perfect for relaxing with Netflix.

But as far as design goes, the Helix stumbles big time. When docked, it feels like Dr. Frankenstein’s hybrid PC/tablet, thanks to that goofy flap in the back and a leading heavy building.

It doesn’t open quickly, that finicky touchpad got on our nerves, and we found it awkward as a tablet. Its broad type factor is difficult to manage, and its small little switch is irritating to turn on and off.

It’s a jack of all trades, master of none, and that makes its heavy cost hard to swallow. $1,679 is a lot to request this Ivy Bridge machine.

If you genuinely want a Windows 8 convertible ultrabook that’s even more functional than a Surface Pro, then the ThinkPad Helix is the means to go. Nonetheless, we think you and your pocketbook would be better served by Microsoft’s tablet or more separate equipments. Save the money and put it towards a chiropractic specialist, choose 2 devices till Lenovo or someone else improves this design and gets the price right.