Windows 8.1: Makes the ThinkPad Tablet 2 even better

Summary:Lenovo's tablet has impressed me since buying it a while back. Having updated it to Windows 8.1, I find it even better due to Microsoft's improvements.

ThinkPad Tablet 2 Windows 8.1
Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet

The ThinkPad Tablet 2 has everything I need, and that's why I proclaimed it the best Windows tablet I have used. As good as it was, after updating it to Windows 8.1 I find it is even better. 

Faster in every way

Before the Windows 8.1 update the ThinkPad Tablet 2 wasn't slow, but it was a typical Atom-based PC. The more tasks launched to run at the same time the more the tablet would slow down. This slowdown is just the way it is with Atom processors, they work fine to a point and then performance is impacted.

Since updating the Tablet 2, Windows 8.1 has improved performance across the board and that is surprising. I usually have a number of apps, both Metro and legacy desktop apps, running all the time. They now all run as smooth as butter with the entire system operation noticeably faster. The little lags that would pop up under Windows 8.0 are all gone.

I typically run the Chrome browser on the desktop with 6 or 7 tabs open. I may run another app or two on the desktop alongside Chrome. Under Windows 8.1, the Chrome browser and all open tabs run nicely without bogging down. That performance improvement holds up as I constantly switch back and forth between the desktop and the Metro side of things. Operation is as fluid as can be, and that makes using the Tablet 2 even more enjoyable than it was before the update.

Better tablet operation

Since the Windows update, I find tablet operation to be more fluid than it was. Using the onscreen keyboard is particularly better, with it popping up and closing down almost instantly. The predictive text seems to be better as it suggests words constantly. It's so much better now that I find myself foregoing the Lenovo physical keyboard more than before.

I often switch between landscape and portrait orientations, but with Windows 8.0 I didn't do that with the ThinkPad Tablet 2 as much as with other tablets. Many apps or web sites didn't display well in portrait so I stayed in landscape. That's no longer the case with Windows 8.1 as it handles the orientation change very well. After using Windows 8.1 for a few hours I realized I was rotating the tablet with abandon to always view the screen in the orientation that felt best. This is a major improvement to the user experience.

Using the pen as a pointer and for writing on the screen is also much improved. There was often a lag when using the pen under the old Windows but that's a thing of the past with Windows 8.1. The input panel pops up quickly and converting handwriting to digital text is fast. It makes the pen a more viable alternative for input than it was before.

Conclusion

Windows 8.1 is such a great update on the ThinkPad Tablet 2 that I recommend owners don't wait to upgrade. It's worth the effort, which isn't that great frankly, to raise the level of your tablet. Windows 8.1 is an update done right.

The update process went well with only a small issue on the Tablet 2. After the Windows 8.1 update was applied you need to run Windows Update manually to get all the hardware drivers upgraded for 8.1 I did this on the Lenovo and the system rebooted (as it should) to apply the new drivers.

After the system restarted the tablet's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth keyboard would not work. I didn't panic, and neither should you if it happens. I rebooted the system manually and everything came up working fine. The Windows 8.1 upgrade and subsequent Windows Update got all hardware drivers working.

Since the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 shipped with Windows 8 Pro, the upgrade to 8.1 is free. Based on the smooth upgrade process and resultant improvements in operation, don't procrastinate on applying the update. You'll be glad you didn't wait.

See also: 

Topics: Mobility, Lenovo, Tablets, Windows 8

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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