Lenovo Miix 510 review: An affordable homage to the Surface Pro 4

miix-510-header.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent
  • $599.99

Pros

  • Solid aluminium backplate
  • Well-designed kickstand
  • Good-quality IPS screen
  • Active Pen stylus is bundled

Cons

  • Disappointing battery life
  • Runs warm

Lenovo's Miix series sits in its Ideapad line, and so might not be a professional's first port of call when looking for a laptop. But these two-in-one laptop/tablet hybrids come in three sizes, and may well be worth checking out. The 12.2-inch Miix 510 is the mid-range offering, flanked by the 10-inch Miix 310 and the high-end 12-inch Miix 700.

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery then Lenovo is flattering Microsoft's Surface devices with the Miix 510, whose design is very reminiscent of the Surface Pro 4. The specifications of the two devices don't match, and nor do the prices -- Lenovo comes in lower on both fronts.

The Miix 510 bundle comprises tablet, keyboard, a Lenovo Active Pen stylus, and a soft, flexible carry case.

miix-510-main.jpg

The sixth-generation Core i3/i5-based Miix 510 has a 12.2-inch IPS screen and weighs 1.25kg all told. The tablet section weighs 900g.

Images: Lenovo

Lenovo has brought its signature watchband hinges to the tablet's kickstand. Two of them sit on each side of the stand, which occupies the bottom half of the back of the device. The hinges are made from 280 individual pieces of stainless steel, and are used to set the kickstand at -- almost -- any angle required.

The hinges top out at 150 degrees, so they don't rotate enough to let the tablet quite sit flat on a desk. But they are solid, and hold the tablet securely at any angle up to that maximum point.

miix-510-watchband-hinge.jpg

Lenovo uses its distinctive 'watchband' hinge for the tablet's kickstand.

Image: Sandra Vogel/ZDNet

The kickstand locks away tightly when the tablet is used separately from the keyboard, or when the Miix 510 is closed down, but it's easy to free up thanks to large nicks in the tablet's short edges. One-handed setup isn't possible, but the system is as ergonomic as they come.

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The tablet's entire backplate and sides are made from aluminium, lending it a solid, well-protected feel. It's easily scratched, though: without even trying I managed to spoil its smooth, freshly minted looks. If you want to keep this device looking pristine, you'll need to use the provided soft case.

As a two-in-one hybrid, the Miix 510 tablet is, of course, designed to be used freestanding, with all the computing and connectivity housed within it. Volume controls, the power button, and an audio jack are on the right, while USB-C and USB 3.0 ports, and the power jack, are on the left. There's a slot under the kickstand for either a MicroSD card or a SIM card depending on the configuration chosen.

miix-510-ports.jpg

The Miix 510 has two USB ports -- one USB-C, one USB-3.0.

Image: Lenovo

At the back there's a five-megapixel camera, while the front-facing camera is a two-megapixel unit. The entire top edge is covered by ventilation slots. The fan on my review sample kicked in fairly often, but it's quiet and only really disturbed when I was working in total silence. Fan noise should easily be masked by noise from a radio playing in the house or office, or ambient café sounds, for example.

Even when simply streaming a YouTube video, the back of the tablet section got quite warm -- with or without the fan running to help with cooling.

There are speaker grilles on the left and right short edges, and sound quality is reasonable but not outstanding. The Dolby Audio app has settings for Movie, Game, Music, and Voice modes as well as a personalisation option. None of them made a great deal of difference to the overall quality, which is quite trebly and not best suited to intense movie watching or music listening. That said, the speakers are perfectly OK for video calling without a headset.

The 12.2-inch, 1,920-by-1,200-resolution touchscreen is surrounded by a sizeable 17mm bezel. This does help avoid accidental screen taps when working in tablet mode, but when compared to a device like Lenovo's own Yoga 910 or Dell's XPS 13 two-in-one (both admittedly premium machines that lack detachable screens) the value of smaller bezels becomes immediately apparent. Quite simply, they allow a much larger display to be crammed into a small chassis.

The IPS screen itself is sharp and bright, with good colour, and is comfortable to work with. However, it's very reflective and while viewing angles are good, that reflectivity causes problems with screen sharing if there's a light source like a window anywhere in the vicinity.

The keyboard attaches to the tablet via magnets that lock it at the right position immediately and are strong enough to keep both sections together without fear of slipping. There is absolutely no fiddling necessary to start working in laptop mode.

miix-510-keyboard.jpg

The keyboard is a typical Lenovo effort that secures magnetically to the tablet section.

Image: Lenovo

The keys themselves are well made and robust, with that distinctive Lenovo curved-belly design. The main keys are large and well spaced, though the Fn row is only half height and the Enter key is a little squished. There's quite a lot of travel on the keys and a slight flexing in the board that might trouble heavy-handed typists. There was nothing here, though, that prevented me touch typing at my usual speed.

The touchpad is relatively small, but responsive enough to sweeps, presses, and gesture controls.

Anyone thinking of carrying the Miix 510 around or holding the tablet for long periods will want to know that on its own the tablet weighs 900g and with the keyboard added in the total weight rises to 1.25kg. There are some (admittedly not many) fully-fledged one-piece laptops that can compete with this.

miix-510-stylus.jpg

The bundled Active Pen is welcome, although Lenovo's options for stowing it could be better thought-out.

Image: Lenovo

The Miix 510 comes with a Lenovo Active Pen with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. It's a well-designed stylus that's a comfortable size to hold and use. Now that Windows 10 includes Windows Ink Workspace, with its Sketch Pad, Screen Sketch and handwritten Sticky Notes support, there's plenty of built-in opportunity to use the Active Pen even without additional apps.

The Active Pen comes with a holder that slots into the single USB 3.0 port on the chassis, effectively rendering it useless for attaching peripherals. Surely Lenovo could have thought of a better method. There's also a holder loop for the Active Pen on the soft case, although this sits on the outside of the case, and the pen can easily be dislodged. Again, Lenovo could have put more thought into this.

The processor in my review sample was an Intel Core i5-7200U, but off-the-shelf models currently available in the UK don't offer that processor. There are two configurations, both with sixth-generation Core CPUs:

Intel Core i3-6100U, Windows 10 Home, 12.2-inch 1,920 x 1,200 IPS LED touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 520, 4GB RAM, 128GB PCIe SSD, 802.11ac wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.0
£599.99 (inc. VAT)

Intel Core i5-6200U, Windows 10 Home, 12.2 inch 1,920 x 1,200 IPS LED touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 520, 8GB RAM, 256GB PCIe SSD, 802.11ac wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.0
£899.99 (inc. VAT)

Lenovo claims up to eight hours of battery life for the Miix 510. This may be achievable, but users will have to be very frugal to get there. To give one example from my testing: I set the screen to stay on constantly -- as it would be if I were working solidly with no breaks -- and set to 40 percent brightness. I then used web apps, did some video streaming, and did a range of generally low-level work tasks that did not push the system particularly hard. The battery went from 100 percent to 17 percent in five hours under these conditions.

Conclusions

The Lenovo Miix 510 has some attractive plus points. The kickstand is very solid, the connection between the tablet and keyboard sections is robust, and the keyboard itself is well made. The fact that the Active Pen is bundled rather than an optional extra is welcome, although the inability to store it on the system without disabling the single USB 3.0 port is problematic.

However, there's a lot of heat output through the backplate, and the fan may prove too noisy for those who prefer a quiet environment.

The big problem with the Lenovo Miix 51 is its disappointing battery life. That could prove a deal-breaker for many.

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Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core i3 (6th Gen) 6100U / 2.3 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Cache 3 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Features Hyper-Threading Technology, Intel Smart Cache, integrated memory controller
Cache Memory
Installed Size 3 MB
Memory
Technology DDR4 SDRAM
Speed 2133 MHz / PC4-17000
RAM
Memory Speed 2133 MHz
Memory Specification Compliance PC4-17000
Configuration Features provided memory is soldered
Technology DDR4 SDRAM
Installed Size 4 GB
Storage
Interface PCIe
Interface Type SSD PCIe
Display
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Resolution 1920 x 1200 (WUXGA)
Widescreen Display Yes
Image Aspect Ratio 16:10
Type LED
Touchscreen yes (multi-touch)
Diagonal Size (metric) 31 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation WUXGA
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 520
Integrated Webcam Yes
Sound Stereo speakers, two microphones
Hard Drive
Type SSD
SSD Form Factor M.2
Capacity 128 GB
Input
Type keyboard, touchpad
Features precision touchpad
Communications
Wireless Protocol Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi
Optical Storage
Drive Type no optical drive
Type none
Processor
Type Core i3
Processor Number i3-6100U
Generation 6
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 2.3 GHz
Battery
Capacity 4955 mAh
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Output 45 Watt, 20 V, 2.25 A
Connections & Expansion
Interfaces USB 3.0
USB-C
Headphone/microphone combo jack
Header
Brand Lenovo
Product Line Lenovo Miix 510-12ISK
Model 80U1
Localization English
Packaged Quantity 1
Miscellaneous
Color platinum silver
Included Accessories keyboard, power adapter
Networking
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi
Monitor
Diagonal Size 12.2 in
System
Notebook Type tablet
Mechanical Design detachable keyboard
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 128 GB
Dimensions & Weight
Width 11.9 in
Depth 8 in
Height 0.4 in
Audio Output
Compliant Standards Dolby Audio
Physical Characteristics
Weight 31.04 oz
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Windows 10 Home 64-bit Edition
Video Output
Graphics Processor Intel HD Graphics 520
Graphics Processor Series Intel HD Graphics
Notebook Camera
Integrated Webcam Yes
Input Device
Backlight Yes

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Lenovo, Reviews, Tablets

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Where To Buy

Lenovo Miix 510

Part Number: 80U10066US
Price
$599.99

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