Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet - Mobile Workhorse

Launch SRP: S$999


BFF - Business Friendly Features

Similar to the IdeaPad Tablet K1, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet runs on Android Honeycomb 3.1 OS out of the box. As such, you will not expect anything significantly different from the rest of the Honeycomb tablets. 

Android 3.1 OS has became the standard Honeycomb version on most tablets today.

Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 or HTC Flyer where the stock Android user interface is heavily skinned by their own overlays, you will only notice subtle changes on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet. As we have covered the refinements that Lenovo made to the interface in the IdeaPad Tablet K1, you can find out more about these refinements here.

Located at the centre of the home screen is Lenovo's Launch Zone app that provides one-touch access to videos, web browsing, email, music and e-books. You will find the App Wheel on the right side where you can easily scroll through six of your favorite apps.

Adding onto the Honeycomb multitasking menu, Lenovo has made it even more convenient by allowing users to close apps through this feature.

One of the main highlights is its own App Store, named the Lenovo App Shop. It has a collection of unique and popular apps that are tested specifically for Lenovo tablets

The problem with mainstream tablets today is that most of them are unable to match up to the requirements or conditions necessary in the sensitive and complicated corporate environment. They do not possess the security, reliability and manageability features that IT departments of companies need in order to deploy the use of tablets among their employees.

This is where the branding steps in.The ThinkPad branding is widely recognized as one of the best brands in the corporate world. By leveraging on its solid reputation, Lenovo hopes that it will be easier for companies to buy and deploy the ThinkPad branded devices. 

You can find some business friendly apps preloaded on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet. The Mobility Manager app enables IT departments control over the tablet, allowing them to remotely wipe date and encrypt data to guard against unauthorized access of sensitive information.

What's a business-centric tablet without the trusty keyboard and optical trackpoint? Well, Lenovo has the ThinkPad Tablet equipped with an optional accessory, the Keyboard Folio Case. As the name suggests, this is a keyboard with an optical button for cursor use. The exterior of the case is mainly leather, giving it a premium look and feel. Business users will appreciate the convenience of having a keyboard in a case if they are considering serious productivity on-the-go with the ThinkPad Tablet. However, if you are using the tablet for basic internet surfing, you can save some money by skipping the Keyboard Folio Case. 

The ThinkPad Tablet Keyboard Folio Case is an optional accessory that you can get at S$129.

A USB port locks the tablet in place. We are glad that Lenovo opts for this physical connection over a Bluetooth connection as it does not affect the battery life of the tablet.

The keyboard folio case (650g) needs to go on a diet as it weighs almost as heavy as the tablet itself (730.5g). When you take into account the tablet in the case, you are looking at a combined weight of about 1.4KG. In addition, folding the keyboard to the back of the tablet is not recommended. As such, you are unable to use the tablet on its own when it is in the case.

Once you place the tablet inside the case, it fits securely in place. This also means that you will require more force to remove the tablet from the case when the need arises. You can position the table at three different angles although the difference is minimal. Keeping the tablet in position is a magnetic catch at the bottom, which locks the top part firmly in place.

We had no problems typing on the keyboard. The key size is good and comfortable to type on. This is expected of a ThinkPad-branded device although the typing experience cannot be compared to a full fledged ThinkPad notebook. You will notice the signature red optical trackpoint in the middle of the keyboard.

If you need to jot down notes during meetings occasionally and do not need the S$129 keyboard folio case, Lenovo has included an optional ThinkPad Tablet Pen which you can get for S$41. (Note that the Pen is included as part of the current sales package.) So far, we have only seen one other brand that utilizes a digitizer pen on a tablet, that being the HTC Flyer. Both Pens use the same N-Trig's DuoSense digitizer technology, which rely on battery for operation. In both cases, the Pens draw power from a single AAAA battery. While you can use the HTC Pen in most applications (e.g. browser) on the Flyer, you are limited to using the ThinkPad Tablet Pen on the native note-taking app and PDFs.  

 In true ThinkPad fashion, the Tablet Pen is easily identified by its red cap on the top.

You have the options to change the color of your font,

You have the option to change the language, font, ink thickness and pen color.

Here are some examples of the capabilities of the Pen and its native note-taking app. The Real Time Conversion Pen Input converts your handwritten notes automatically into uniform fonts while the Standard Pen Input maintains the style of your writing.

Overall, we found the implementation to be better on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet. We liked how the display responded smoothly to each pen input and the software integration. However, there is certainly room for improvement as the handwriting recognition software is not perfect.

As seen in the photo above, "hardwarezone" is initially written together but was converted to two words, "hardware" and "zone". Although Lenovo claims that the display can differentiate between the input of a pen and interferences from our palm, we still encountered issues. As Notes Mobile can only be used in portrait mode, we tend to put our palm on the display first before using the Tablet Pen to write. The display registered our palms, and as we moved across the screen, faint lines appeared where they were not supposed to.

As part of its unique selling propositions, Lenovo preloads some paid apps onto the ThinkPad Tablet. These apps are from a number of categories such as tools, communications and entertainment. If you are feeling bored during travelling or in between office hours, the preloaded Zinio app comes in handy as you can browse from thousands of magazine titles including our digital version of HardwareMag Singapore. You also have games apps preinstalled such as Angry Birds HD and Hardwood Solitaire to help you kill time.

The Good
Full-sized USB and SD card slot
Good implementation of Tablet Pen
Preloaded apps
The Bad
Sluggish performance at times