Lenovo’s first tablet to compete in Australia is the ThinkPad Tablet, a device that pairs the design of the company’s pro-level notebooks with a stylus-supported touchscreen.
Sharing the matte black finish of the company’s business notebooks, Lenovo’s ThinkPad Tablet is a bit of a Plain Jane. A glowing red dot on the “i” in “ThinkPad” on the back of tablet adds a bit of pizzaz … but only a bit.
At 730 grams and 14mm deep, it’s not the lightest or thinnest device on the market, heavier and almost one-and-a-half times thicker than the iPad 2. Build materials also aren’t as strong, with plastic and glass used in this tablet.
The front is a fairly standard 16:10 frame of black surrounding a 10 inch touchscreen, all covered by Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass. The LCD screen uses the high quality In-Plane Switching (IPS) display technology, which allows for good viewing angles and strong colour recreation, similar to the IPS panels seen in the Apple iPad 2 and Asus Eee Pad Transformer. Resolution is rated at 1280 x 800 pixels which is standard for this screen size.
Under the hood, it’s pretty much the same technology we’ve seen in every iPad competitor this year. Lenovo has equipped the ThinkPad Tablet with the NVidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor, 1GB memory, 32GB storage, Bluetooth 3.0, and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n.
Because this is targeted at the business user, Lenovo has thrown in good connectivity options, including an SD card slot, 3G SIM card slot, mini-HDMI, and a full-size USB port – useful for plugging in computer peripherals and external hard drives. A headphone jack is also provided, supporting headphones with microphones attached.
MicroUSB is present on the bottom edge of the tablet, and is used for both data transfers and charging of the tablet. A proprietary connector can be found next to the microUSB, designed specifically to connect to Lenovo’s accessories, including the desktop dock and folio keyboard case.
The OS of choice is Google Android Honeycomb, with an already up-to-date version 3.1 installed here. Lenovo has customised the bottom controlling icons of Back, Home, Menu, and Recent Applications, while also throwing in a handy favourite apps shortcut system.
Some of these icons have even been given physical hardware buttons, with the bottom of the ThinkPad Tablet sporting Home and Back buttons on the bottom right. The bottom left is home to a rotation lock and a web browser button. This is significant, given that Android tablets normally feature no front physical buttons at all, and should make it easier for first time users.
Also of significance is what’s in the top right corner of the tablet. Here, Lenovo has bundled in a battery operated pressure sensitive digitizer, or in other words a stylus able to be used for drawing and touch-operations in place of your fingers. This isn’t just for giggles and doodles, though; special software for recognising handwriting performed with the stylus is included for interpreting your scribbles into words.
Cameras are also present here, with a 2 megapixel suitable for video conferencing on the front and a 5 megapixel shooter on the back. No flash is present on either of these.
While not the thinnest tablet we’ve seen, the ThinkPad doesn’t feel extraordinarily heavy for its size. The weight is spread fairly evenly, but holding it in the middle will help ensure it doesn’t topple in your hands.
Turning it on for the first time, we found the screen to be very bright and viewable from practically any angle, the colours constantly clear with no sign of wash-out.