Lenovo ThinkPad 10 (2nd generation) review: Classy, but pricey and underpowered

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  • Editors' rating
    7.9 Very good

Pros

  • Good display with excellent viewing angles
  • High-quality industrial design
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Multiple configurations available

Cons

  • Underpowered for more demanding business workloads
  • Relatively expensive when kitted out for business use
  • Entry-level model is short on RAM and storage
  • Windows 10 Home on lower-priced models
  • Mobile broadband is only available on the top-end model
  • Holder for optional ThinkPad Pen Pro obscures the USB 3.0 port

Lenovo's ThinkPad 10 Windows tablet is now on its second generation. Last year we were impressed with the first version, noting that it would be "equally at home in the boardroom and living room."

The new ThinkPad 10 comes with Windows 10 and is again designed to be fully business-ready. However to take full advantage you'll not only need to purchase the optional ThinkPad 10 Folio Keyboard, but also move up from the entry-level £459.99 (inc. VAT) price to replace Windows 10 Home with Windows 10 Pro, add more RAM and internal storage, and mobile broadband if required.

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The 10.1-inch ThinkPad 10, slotted into the optional ThinkPad 10 Folio Keyboard.

Image: Lenovo

As its name suggests, the ThinkPad 10 has a 10.1-inch screen. It's a high-quality IPS panel with a resolution of 1,920 by 1,200 pixels (224ppi) delivering a clear, sharp and bright image. As with many tablets, the panel's surface is very reflective, which we found extremely distracting while working. On the plus side, viewing angles are superb.

The screen sits in a wide bezel, giving the tablet an overall footprint of 256mm by 177mm and allowing you to hold it in one or two hands without accidentally prodding the screen. The ThinkPad 10 is notably larger than the iPad Air 2's 240mm by 169.5mm, although of course the iPad has a smaller screen at 9.7 inches.

We were able to flex the 9.1mm-thick ThinkPad 10 chassis a little between two hands. It's not that the build quality is particularly poor, but Lenovo's tablet does feel slightly less robust than the iPad Air 2.

There's a neat design feature in the chassis shaping, with rounded corners on the top long edge and square ones on the bottom. This isn't just about looks: the squared-off bottom edges allow the tablet to dock neatly with the ThinkPad 10 Folio Keyboard -- an optional extra that will add $110 (around £80) to the overall cost. We weren't provided with a keyboard as part of our review kit, but can confirm that the magnets used to support the tablet when docked are effective -- they adhered the ThinkPad 10 to our metal tablet stand pretty well.

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The ThinkPad 10 has a good set of on-board connections, including full-size USB 3.0 and Micro-HDMI.

Image: Lenovo

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The chassis materials don't mean that the ThinkPad 10 is a particularly light hold -- at 597g it's significantly heavier than the 437g iPad Air 2, for example. That said, the ThinkPad 10 feels quite comfortable when held in one hand and we don't see its weight as a problem.

Where Lenovo does steal a march over Apple is in terms of connectivity. The right short edge houses a headset jack, the volume rocker and power connector, along with a MicroSD card slot and a Micro-HDMI port.

There's also a full-sized USB 3.0 port (under a difficult-to-replace and easily-mislaid rubber protector) plus, on the top-of-the-range £709.99 (inc. VAT) model, a Micro-SIM caddy for the optional (LTE) mobile broadband module. For local-area wireless connectivity, there's 802.11ac wi-fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

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The back of the tablet houses an optional fingerprint reader and a 5-megapixel main camera with LED flash.

Image: Lenovo

The back of our review unit had a fingerprint reader and a marker for the NFC touch point, which are both optional extras. The back is also home to the ThinkPad logo with its characteristic status LED built into the dot of the 'i'.

There's also the lens for the 5-megapixel rear camera, which has an LED flash. The front camera is a 1.2-megapixel unit.

We noted earlier that you'll need to spend more than the headline £459.99 (inc. VAT) if you want a top-notch business-ready tablet. There are three preconfigured models available, and you only get mobile broadband if you opt for the top-end £709.99 (inc. VAT) version, which also includes smartcard support and is the only preconfigured model to run Windows 10 Pro. The others run Windows 10 Home.

If you don't like the preconfigured models you can always tweak the specifications to get a configuration that suits your needs. Moving from Windows 10 Home to Pro costs an extra £55.20 (inc. VAT), for example.

The processor remains the same across all three off-the-shelf configurations: Intel's 1.6-2.4GHz Atom x7-Z8700. The two more expensive models have 4GB of RAM and 128GB of eMMC storage, while the entry-level version has 2GB and 64GB.

The processor choice is a bit of a problem for this tablet. Even relatively simple tasks like opening a Microsoft Edge window up to full screen resulted in a discernable wait, and we have some reservations about the processor's ability to cope with even mildly demanding business tasks -- especially if you're using multiple apps simultaneously.

You might want to note, too, that even when idling the back right of the chassis becomes noticeably warm.

Lenovo rates the ThinkPad 10's battery life at up to 10 hours, which could get you through a working day off a full charge if you're just doing a bit of document creation/editing and the odd email or online session. However, if you turn up the screen brightness or push the processor with connected sessions, you may need to give the tablet a mid-afternoon power boost.

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More ThinkPad 10 options: ThinkPad Pen Pro and ThinkPad Tablet Dock.

Images: Lenovo

The screen's touch responsiveness is pretty accurate considering its high resolution, but you should really consider accessorising the device with the optional ThinkPad Pen Pro, which allows you to perform functions like dragging, opening, swiping and clicking as well as make handwritten input for conversion to editable text. It will set you back $40 (around £30).

You'll need the ThinkPad Pen Pro to take advantage of Lenovo's WRITEit app, a clever preinstalled piece of software that lets you write into any application that has a facility for user input and turns that writing into editable text. You could write into the Google search box, for example, or fill in a form with handwriting. Unfortunately we weren't sent a ThinkPad Pen Pro to test, but the concept seems excellent.

It's worth noting that if you do want the pen there's a holder for it that slots into the USB 3.0 port. This locates the pen handily on the side of the chassis but obviously rules out the USB 3.0 port, which is not a particularly elegant or user-friendly solution.

Conclusion

Lenovo positions the second-generation ThinkPad 10 as a business-ready multi-modal tablet. But to get to that status you need to invest in the Folio Keyboard on top of spending £710 (inc. VAT) for the top-end model including mobile broadband and Windows 10 Pro. Even then, the Atom x7 processor is not up to the level of a fully-fledged business notebook running a Core i5/i7, or even a Core-M CPU.

As an alternative you might consider Microsoft's Surface Pro 4. It does have a considerably larger (12.3-inch) screen, but it also has features that arguably mean it can replace a laptop entirely. And of course if you don't mind a larger screen there are plenty of laptops with detachable screens and 360-degree hinges worth considering. All of which means that Lenovo may not have done enough with this ThinkPad 10 update -- not least because, when fully kitted out, it's the price of a second laptop.

Specifications

Display
Resolution 1920 x 1200 (WUXGA)
Touchscreen Yes (10-point multi-touch)
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
TFT Technology IPS
Diagonal Size 10.1 in
Diagonal Size (metric) 25.65 cm
Native Resolution 1920 x 1200
Image Aspect Ratio 16:10
Miscellaneous
Features 3D accelerometer, 3D compass, 3D gyrometer, MIL-STD-810G tested, Windows button, reset switch, security lock slot (cable lock sold separately)
Color graphite black
Color Category black
Case Material glass-fiber reinforced plastic, polyamide
Compliant Standards GREENGUARD, RoHS
Processor
Type Atom x7
64-bit Computing Yes
Number of Cores Quad-Core
Processor Number Z8700
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 1.6 GHz
Memory
Max Supported Size 4 GB
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Camera
Features autofocus, rear camera with flash
Networking
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth 4.0, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
Input Device
Security Devices fingerprint reader
Battery
Technology 2-cell lithium polymer
Technology lithium polymer
Capacity 32 Wh
Power
Run Time (Up To) 10 sec
Header
Brand Lenovo
Product Line Lenovo ThinkPad 10
Localization English
Country Kits United States
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility PC
System
Platform Windows
Security Devices fingerprint reader
RAM
Technology LPDDR3 SDRAM
Installed Size 4 GB
Digital Camera
Features autofocus, rear camera with flash
Audio Input
Type three microphones
Expansion Slots
Type none
OS Provided
Type Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Edition
Language English
Power Device
Nominal Voltage AC 120/230 V
Frequency Required 50/60 Hz
Battery Life Details
Usage Mode standby time, video playback
Run Time (Up To) 10 sec, 26 sec
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Dimensions & Weight
Width 10.1 in
Depth 7 in
Height 0.4 in
Weight 21.06 oz
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Full Contract Period 1 year

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