ThinkPad Twist hands-on: It's a ThinkPad! It's a tablet! It's a super laptop!

ThinkPad Twist hands-on: It's a ThinkPad! It's a tablet! It's a super laptop!

Summary: The new Windows 8 laptops/hybrids are rolling out and Lenovo is leading the charge. The new ThinkPad Twist is a delightful Ultrabook with a swivel touch screen that becomes a decent tablet.

Twist open

Laptop makers are racing to get new Windows 8 laptops to market for the holidays. Lenovo has just introduced the ThinkPad Twist which is a hybrid with a touch screen designed to take advantage of Windows 8.

Twist closed

I have been using the Twist for a week and the build quality is quite good for a hybrid that is available for as low as $746. It features a classic design for a hybrid with a 12.5-inch touch screen that swivels around to become a tablet.

Hardware specifications as reviewed:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5 1.7 GHz
  • Memory: 4 GB
  • Display: 12.5-inch IPS, 1366 x 768 5-point multitouch
  • OS: Windows 8
  • Storage: 128 GB SSD
  • Camera: 720p webcam
  • Ports: 2-USB 3.0, RJ45, audio combo, miniHDMI, miniDP, 4-in-1 SD/MMC card reader
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Battery: 7 hours
  • Dimensions: 313mm x 236mm x 20mm (12.3" x 9.3" x 0.8")
  • Weight1.58 kg (3.48 lbs)

It's a laptop

The ThinkPad Twist is a solid member of the product line in an Ultrabook form. It has ThinkPad styling throughout and is solidly constructed. The 3.5 lb. weight is acceptable for just a thin laptop and the display, while not high-resolution, is a solid IPS screen with wide viewing angles.

See also: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 hands on: Flexible laptop for flexible Windows 8 | Why I can't recommend the Surface RT for tablet shoppersSurface RT hands-on: Not a good tablet, not a good laptop

Twist keyboard

Lenovo makes some of the best laptop keyboards in the industry and the Twist has a great one. I make a living using keyboards and this one is as good as it gets. Lenovo used low-profile keys but they are full keys and not chiclet style as is becoming common.

Typing on this keyboard is a joy and the large palm rest rounds out the good typing experience.

As is common for ThinkPads the Twist has both a multi-touch trackpad and a red trackstick. There are the standard three mouse buttons placed above the trackpad for use with either pointing method. The trackpad is not as large as on the Lenovo Yoga 13 I reviewed, but it works well with Windows 8.

The top row of Fn keys include the standard laptop controls such as brightness and volume controls. There is a key that is really useful in Windows 8 that brings up the screen with all apps installed. 

It's a tablet

Windows 8 is designed to handle both laptops and tablets and the Twist has a swivel screen that turns it into a decent tablet. At 3.5 lbs. the Twist is not the easiest tablet to use but it is typical of the new hybrid class. 

Lenovo has designed the Twist to be easy to use in either laptop or tablet mode by putting common controls on the bezel of the display. There is the standard Windows button (a real button not capacitive), volume up/down buttons, and the sole power button. The latter is situated on the lower right side of the display and is accessible in either laptop or tablet mode. There is also a small screen rotation lock button above the power button that toggles auto-rotation on and off.

I find the Twist to be best used in landscape orientation as a tablet, not my favorite position but it works fine. The touch screen is very well calibrated and it is easy to control Windows 8 by touch in tablet mode. 

I like using the Twist as a tablet better than the Yoga 13 due to the swivel screen of the former. I ever got used to having the Yoga keyboard exposed on the bottom of the device in tablet mode. This is not an issue with the Twist. 

The Twist is reminiscent of the ThinkPad x200 convertible notebooks of the past. This is quite a bit thinner and lighter than the convertible of old, a very good thing. The only thing the Twist is lacking compared to the Tablet PC of old is a pen/inking option. Lenovo has chosen to leave the pen out of the Twist, even though Windows 8 supports it.

It is worth noting that Lenovo is quoting 7 hours of battery life on the Twist and my usage confirms that. It's possible to get all day on a single charge with the Twist.

Good value

Twist tent mode

The Lenovo ThinkPad Twist is an outstanding laptop and a decent tablet making it a good value for the price. It is available now from Lenovo starting at $746. It runs full Windows 8 making it a full laptop for those not wanting to go with Windows RT.

The unique tent mode of the Yoga 13, the ability to place the laptop in a "tent" orientation for working with the tablet can also be done with the ThinkPad Twist. The single swivel hinge on the Twist is rigid enough to place the device in this special mode for circumstances that require it.

Topics: Reviews, Laptops, Lenovo, Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Somewhat pointless

    "available for as low as $746"


    "Hardware specifications as reviewed:"

    OK, but what is the price as reviewed?

    What are the HW specs for "available for as low as $746"?

    These things DO matter. I think you can do better.
    • Don't have pricing

      Lenovo didn't supply pricing for the unit as reviewed so I didn't make one up. I included the Lenovo link to spec and price one so you could check that if you wish.
      • Thank you

        If the information is indeed available a click or two away, it would be better for you as a blogger to do that once than for all the interested viewers to do it individually. You could still include the link for those interested in more information.

        Reviewing one configuration while giving the price for a much more basic configuration has a bit of a bait and switch feel to it, although I doubt that was you intention.
      • Or you could have

        Followed the link yourself and priced out the review model for your readers.
    • I think

      you can do a little research. is a good place to start.
  • Disappointed with Lenovo

    Who in this moderm age make such an interesting device with mobility in mind without including WWAN (3g/4g) support. How will Windows 8 ever compete with Apple without mobility.
    Microsoft Surface both the RT and Pro will not be including WWAN support.
    I work for an organization with a larger field force and was looking forward to purchase large quatities of the Lenovo Twist, without WWAN support I will have to search for an alternate device.

    Looking for recommendation.

    Thanks for reading.

    • Mobile Hotspot

      My recommendation: Use your smartphone as a mobile hotspot and connect the Surface/ThinkPad/whatever to it via WiFi.
    • There are other options for connectivity

      Mi-Fi products are available from most carriers or you can use your phone.
  • 3.5 lbs?

    "At 3.5 lbs. the Twist is not the easiest tablet to use but it is typical of the new hybrid class."

    Wow, at less than 2 lbs, the Surface has been deemed pretty much unusable by you as a tablet because it was too big and heavy. 2lbs = unusable. 3.5lbs = "not the easiest". Are you kidding me? At least this isn't as heavy as Apple's tablet monstrosity, the modbook (weighing in at 5.5lbs) but I simply don't see how anyone could use this in tablet mode for any length of time. People bring up the decade long failure of Windows tablets but they failed for 3 reasons:
    1. Price (this has been fixed)
    2. UI (this has been fixed with Windows 8)
    3. Weight (uh oh)

    I can see the desire of touch screen laptops, my Surface is a joy to use in "laptop" mode. My issue is that this rotating keyboard doesn't come for free and really doesn't give a whole lot of added benefit. I'm shocked that after the hatchet job you made of the Surface RT in tablet mode that you simply give this one a pass. Can you explain?

    This is probably a fantastic touchscreen laptop, one that Apple has absolutely no answer to. And for the price, it actually seems like it might be a decent product. I can't see how it is a good tablet though and I REALLY can't see how, after hating on the Surface RT for being unusable as a tablet, you think that this 3.5lb tablet is the least bit acceptable as a tablet.

    James, my issue with your reviews is your lack of consistency. 10 step iOS procedures for closing apps that rarely works first time because the iPad's physical button stops responding reliably to presses isn't annoying to you but a 1 swipe Windows RT procedure for closing an app ends up turning into a multi-sentence rant about how much the Surface UI sucks. A 2lb tablet is unusable, a 3.5lb tablet is "delightful".

    Next time you go to write a review, I would encourage you to sit back and ask yourself if you are about to write something using the same reference frame you use to review other products. If you can't, then I would encourage you to hit the "Delete" button and start again.

    • Mr troll modbook is not a product of apple so don't make FUD!

      and this thing is 1.59 Kgs i don't know what this author is thinking but it seems completely unusable as a tablet and even heavy as an ultrabook (air is 1.08 kg)!
    • You're comparing oranges and apples (see what I did there?).

      You're faulting him for inconsistency, yet you seem to miss he's comparing two different products. Surface RT is a tablet, and he reviewed it as such. This product is a hybrid, and he reviews it as such. He never calls it a good tablet, he calls it a "decent tablet", and he couches that with fact that this is a hybrid.

      You keep bringing up the iPad an iOS, but he doesn't mention either product at all. We all know you have a thing for Apple, but seriously you're starting to sound like Jan Brady shouting "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"

      Next time you go to write a comment, I would encourage you to sit back and ask yourself if you are about to write something referencing the article you're commenting. f you can't, then I would encourage you to turn off your computer and go outside and play.
      • Keeping one's eyes open, Matthew.

        I confess that I didn't catch the Jan Brady - Marcia - reference at first. (The Brady Bunch occurred during my High School Years - they were not really my type of TV entertainment during that era.)

        However, a few minutes googling and a few more minutes or so on YouTube and I had my answer. It was fun being reminded, once again, why the Brady Bunch was not my favorite TV cup of tea. Grin.

        But in defense of Todd, although his writing style is an acquired taste, I find he keeps my
        sense of objectivity on an even keel and I value his insights on certain topics. That is to say, I don't agree with everything he states but I don't disagree with everything he states either.

        He is far from being a "Jan", IMO.
    • Stop being intimidated by Apple

      1. Apple has no Modbook, it's a 3rd party abomination.
      2. I have not said the Surface RT is an unusable tablet, just not very comfortable FOR ME.
      3. Read my statement again that you quoted in your comment- "not easy to use".
      4. Tablets sold without keyboards must be great tablets IMHO. Surface falls short FOR ME. YMMV.
      5. Hybrids like the Twist being reviewed here are laptops that also permit occasional use as a tablet. This one does that decently.
      6. Stop invoking Apple/iPad/iOS complaints on my articles like this one that doesn't even mention them. You did, not me.
      • Since Surface RT didn't work for you,

        you considered it wouldn't for others and said here that you would not recommend it for public. Isn't it a very generic statement? You should say that it didn't meet my like, but you could if you wish or something like that but not killing the product. James, like I said before, your blogs are losing taste even if they are pro-Microsoft.
        Ram U
      • wow ... way to deflect and make it a personal issue.

        Surprised you didn't ask him to seek help and/or meds.

        Meanwhile, you still haven't addressed any of his valid observations about your review on the surface. For example, closing apps. Its getting harder and harder to take your reviews seriously.
    • I'm glad someone brought this up.

      I played with the twist at Staples and thought it was a nice hybrid device. My question to James is how do you like the 1 swipe procedure to close apps on the Twist? RT or Win 8 the procedure is the same so it wasn't a problem on the Twist?
  • OK, so, $1079.00 for the

    Windows 8 Pro ThinkPad Twist Multitouch Ultrabook
    • Top of the line

      Well, yeah--$1079 for the top of the line. The base model is significantly less.
  • Uh.... you do know these have been around for like seven years, right?

    We used to call them "convertable tablet PCs." Yes, this is lighter and a little cheaper - but it's essentially the same thing. Heck, I have a netbook convertable from Gigabyte I bought almost four years ago like this.
  • No pen on these?

    Hi James, so these are Windows 8 Pro units and offer no pen capability (no Wacom or N-Trig digitizers)? Hmmm....