PC vendors worldwide are making strenuous efforts to find the answer on how to create a perfect ultraportable laptop, and Lenovo strongly believes it knows how to do it with its ThinkPad Helix machine. At CES 2013 trade show we got a chance to spend some time with a pre-production sample, and mainly we feel impressed.
While we’ll take a look at the machine’s faults later, let’s first come to the number of challenges it handles.Firstly, users look for a strong-performing laptop when needed, but holding something hefty when in tablet mode is not at all tempting. Lenovo does an excellent job here – the 1.8-pound screen panel moves up from the hinges when pressing down on the catch on the left side. Secondly, they need power, but reliable longevity is also what they are looking for. No problem. The manufacturer offers six hours of battery life when using in tablet mode and an extra four hours from the base. Given that this is a full-fledged ultrabook, so it will pack a Core chip on board, that’s a wonderful compromise.
Thirdly, everyone wants a laptop they can properly work on. Check again. The new ThinkPad Helix machine boasts a nice 0.06-inch-travel keyboard, and as with all ThinkPads, it delivers an extremely pleasant typing experience.Measuring 11.6 inches, the display is a worthy option for using at length, moreover, with its 400-nit panel, it is strikingly bright. The resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels is impressive as well.
On top of that, it’s obvious that Lenovo has thought long and hard of the way users will work or play on the Helix ultraportable. The device’s screen has been weighted in such a way that it does not come inclined to tip when using in laptop mode which is really comfortable and eliminates many of the issues that other convertibles may suffer, and it tilts 135 degrees backwards, which is enough. The manufacturer’s promises related to an advantage from one of the Thinkpad convertible’s key parameters seem pretty controversial: Lenovo claims that users will truly benefit from being able to rip and twist the display so it looks backwards as against the keyboard.
According to Lenovo’s representatives, this so-called Stand mode makes the Helix transformer really comfortable for watching movies like in a movie theatre or showing presentations at business meetings. Well, we would be very much interested in how often users actually do any of the above things.The representatives go on saying that when using the ultrabook in the Stand mode users can also fold the display down to use the machine as a tablet while the base remains connected for extra connectivity capabilities.
Here again, we have some doubts about how many times users will do this, but yours truly are happy with the comments by Lenovo stating that the tablet features a USB 2.0 socket and mini-Display port. The dock excels with two USB 3 connections and an extra mini-Display port. Continuing the foible theme, the Lenovo’s idea of offering such a level of transforming capabilities to its gadget seems disputable. We have two questions here:
Above the left side you will see the tablet silhouette looking like someone has sliced it off at the bottom to make a mediocre flat edge. Furthermore, above the right side is a close-up of the hinge (the right-hand one): the tablet has to be precisely slid over it including the mirror one on the left, to put the hinge back into its place.
The above photo showing the tablet’s bottom hopefully gives an idea of how this all works in reality. Besides, it shows some of the Helix’s ports and connections including the SIM card slot, the mini-Display port and a power socket (so the tablet can be directly charged). On a minus side here is that the Lenovo’s Helix lacks an SD card slot which some of the users may consider a serious drawback.
All things considered, the new Helix is hardly perfect, but in practice nothing can be ideal. Any product requires a sacrifice, whether that’s to longevity, operating system choice or keyboard quality. Against our comments, we are happy to admit that it will be a pleasure to give the Helix convertible a try for some time and see how it performs in benchmarks. We believe, we can turn a blind eye to all the faults in return for up to ten hours runtime and a wonderful keyboard.
As soon as the manufacturer releases its gadget for sale, here at ultrabooksreview.com, we will be ready to grab the first full production units to give you the most detailed specs and price charts.