Lenovo ThinkPad tablet

In a world where Android tablet manufacturers have had to scramble on the hardware side to differentiate themselves, there are two trains of thought. One is to go light and sleek, the other is to cram as much functionality into the device as possible while allowing for a little bit of girth.

Lenovo has gone the latter route with its ThinkPad Android tablet, but it's done so, at least from a design standpoint, with the sort of style and usability you'd expect from one of the business world's predominant laptop makers.

We take our first look after the break.


Youtube link for mobile viewing

The 10-inch tablet isn't thin. It's not light. And like others before it, it's got a full-size USB port, mini HDMI port, full size SD card slot, and so on and so forth. But it's all put together in a relatively stylish platform. The USB port is tucked behind a sliding dock -- which is the way it should be done, and most of the other ports are covered as well. The ThinkPad's a mix of soft-touch plastic and Gorilla Glass, which is good, because the screen's going to get use.

Lenovo ThinkPad Android TabletLenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet

Lenovo ThinkPad Android TabletLenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet

Like the HTC Flyer before it, the ThinkPad was made to be drawn on. It comes with a stylus that tucks away into the edge of the case (leaving an interesting red nub exposed -- a conversation starter, no doubt). Open the mobile notes app and start drawing or writing, and you'll immediately notice a different feel than on the Flyer. Using the stylus on the ThinkPad feels nothing like fingernails on a chalkboard. And an even better surprise is that its handwriting recognition is actually usable, even with our live-event chickenscratch. Words and pictures are digitized and can be exported from the program.

The ThinkPad's your "basic" NVIDIA Tegra 2 platform, which is to say it's pretty powerful. Android 3.1 is on board and has been skinned a bit, with a custom launcher front and center on the main home screen, and an interesting quick-app launcher. (The normal Honeycomb launcher is there as well.) We were told what we saw was production software, which leaves us a little worried. Rotating from landscape to portrait mode was sluggish -- when it worked at all. And despite the touchscreen being capacitive, it also reacts to pressure (which is used in the notes app). And as such, we had to work to launch apps a few times. These probably aren't insurmountable hurdles, but they stood out.

Lenovo ThinkPad Android TabletLenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet

Lenovo ThinkPad Android TabletLenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet

The four hardware buttons at the bottom of the display are an odd mix, too. The first button is a rotation lock that probably will be mistaken for a multitasking button. There's also back, home and an Internet button. The power button and volume rocker are in the usual place, on the bezel of the tablet.

And if that's not enough functionality, it's also got a pretty killer keyboard dock/case that connects via the full-size USB port. It's got the telltale Lenovo eraser nub mouse pointer, plus left and right buttons. The keyboard itself is plenty usable. We have no problem saying it's easily competing with the likes of the ASUS EeePad Transformer for Android business tablet of the year.

Lenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet

Lenovo ThinkPad Android TabletLenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet

Lenovo ThinkPad Android TabletLenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet

Lenovo ThinkPad Android TabletLenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet

Lenovo ThinkPad Android TabletLenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet

Lenovo ThinkPad Android TabletLenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet

Lenovo ThinkPad Android TabletLenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet

Lenovo ThinkPad Android TabletLenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet

Lenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet

 
There are 23 comments

Hey, Netflix on a tablet...

Nice business tablet. Waiting on Panasonic's toughpad.

moosc says:

First yea!!!!!! But the browser still sucks

voiceonly says:

First yea!!!!!!

Epic Fail! :)

plunder says:

I hope AC get a chance to review this one soon. Looks interesting, but that keyboard dock is bulky. When you look at the details of the dock, it looks very crude and with a USB cable link to it. ASUS did a much better job at this.

briankurtz79 says:

Is it just me or does that bezel look bigger than average?

domenci says:

I think that's because of the skin having a black bar at the top and bottom in most screen shots, it actually looks thinner than say, an iPad bezel on the long sides to me

domenci says:

I really like the pen input, looks like someone finally got that right on a desirable device

turbofan says:

$$?

jaykingofgay says:

definitely getting this one. Pen input is a killer feature. Can't wait to draw and write on it. Not so sure about the folio case. It's not a dock, doesn't have a backup battery in it, so not sure I want it.

Find out much more about the ThinkPad Tablet at www.ThinkPadTabletForums.com

Don't get in a rush for this tablet. I have had one for about 5 days and let's just say it was not ready to be released. Besides not having all of the features that Lenovo advertises on their site, there are plenty of secrets they need to make known to customers before they buy this. First off, you must purchase the charging dock for this tablet if you want to charge it within a reasonable amount of time. What they don't tell you is that the A/C adapter that comes in the box is only a trickle charger. My unit had about 20% battery when I first received it. It took almost 16 hours of charging to get it close to 100%. That is unacceptable. I didn't find out the truth until I read the user manual on the tablet and it clearly states that you need the cradle. Why not include it if it is the only reasonable way to charge it. The second problem is that I could not get any full size SD card to work in this. I had to put a microSD in an SD adapter to get external storage. The next problem was the single speaker that is very quiet. The next big problem for me was the digitizer. While it is smoother than the HTC Flyer, you don't have any annotate features at all, even though the Lenovo site says it does and show it in demo videos. The only thing you can do is write notes in a notebook and then those can only be forwarded by email, printed or Evernote. No print to PDF or copy to storage like the HTC Flyer or IPAD. The digital pen features menu in the Notes app was not well thought out. I purchased this to use at college and it is so cumbersome to change ink colors and thickness that I just had to use one setting because I could not make changes quick enough to take lecture notes. The HTC Flyer and even the iPad do this much better. The other problem is there are no ADB's for this yet, so I could not sync my Outlook contacts and calendar with my PC. I called Lenovo and right now they are only recommending using Exchange or Gmail. I don't use either so that doesn't work for me. The pros are an excellent build quality and finish. The screen has good viewing angles, but could be brighter. I experienced alot of inking vectoring after using the digitizer for more than 10 minutes. It finally got so bad I stopped using it to take notes. If you want a good, durable, honeycomb tablet and want all of the accessories this might work ok, if you are willing to put up with the missing inking features and battery charging problems. The other issue is the screen. It picks up hand and finger grease very quickly and doesn't come off very easily with a microfiber cloth. I am very OCD about keeping my hands clean and the screen. It became very frustrating just after the first day. I guess what I am saying is if you use Exchange and need security on an Android tablet and don't mind waiting for Lenovo to fix the bugs and provide all of the features they advertised, this could be a great tablet. As it stands, I could not recommend this tablet to anyone in its current state, especially to a college student. If you don't really need the inking capability it is at the top of the current Android Honeycomb tablet list.

Nirvana328 says:

wow I almost had a stroke when I saw this monstrosity.

Dude ever heard of things called "paragraphs?"

jaykingofgay says:

This statement doesn't make any sense. " I experienced alot of inking vectoring after using the digitizer for more than 10 minutes." I even tried googling "inking vectoring" and nothing came up that sounded remotely negative.

"It finally got so bad I stopped using it to take notes. If you want a good, durable, honeycomb tablet and want all of the accessories this might work ok, if you are willing to put up with the missing inking features and battery charging problems."

What missing inking features? The rest of the comment doesn't detail any inking features that are missing?

"If you don't really need the inking capability it is at the top of the current Android Honeycomb tablet list."

Again, it's unclear what the complaint is, what's the missing feature(s)? I've seen a couple videos of people using the pen and it seems there are no inking issues.

There's also the question of whether you've talked to tech support about any of the issues. Did you do a factory reset of the device, as is recommended for any device before getting too far into using it? A factory reset seems to fix bugs for some reason.
There is also the question of exchanging the unit. There are duds in every production line, despite agressive QA, something can still slip through.

unowennyc says:

Aren't guys who still live in mom's basement ...great...

TheyLOVE babbling.

This guy -whose 'reviewing' the ThinkPad thinks it's...'cool' because...of it's technology? No. 'cos of innovative..(fill in the blank)? Again - no.

It's 'cool' 'cos it's stamped 'ThinkPad.'

Hey - you ever tongue kiss another human (please: don't say 'mom )?!?!

sakasune says:

Wow - troll much or are you just aching to get of your mom's basement? Be honest

Puzzlegal says:

I don't get it. He's used the thing and he's trying to be helpful. And he succeeds more than you do. The first reply about paragraphs is helpful - the comments would be more useful if they were broken into logical chunks. But all the personal attacks? Why? (please don't asnwer that, it was a rhetorical question.)

JOHNGAETANO says:

Give the guy a break. Too many jelous people on this forum.

blackntan says:

Looks to me like this article was plagiarized in almost its entirety on a crappy site called OMGDroid by "Cliff Wade".

ro_bro says:

Wow, totally:

No, I'd say full plagiarism. Oddly he "sources" Android Central, but it's actually just copy and paste:

Androidcentral's paragraph:
"The ThinkPad's your "basic" NVIDIA Tegra 2 platform, which is to say it's pretty powerful. Android 3.1 is on board and has been skinned a bit, with a custom launcher front and center on the main home screen, and an interesting quick-app launcher. (The normal Honeycomb launcher is there as well.) We were told what we saw was production software, which leaves us a little worried. Rotating from landscape to portrait mode was sluggish -- when it worked at all. And despite the touchscreen being capacitive, it also reacts to pressure (which is used in the notes app). And as such, we had to work to launch apps a few times. These probably aren't insurmountable hurdles, but they stood out."

OMGDroid's paragraph:
"The ThinkPad’s your “basic” NVIDIA Tegra 2 platform, which is to say it’s pretty powerful. Android 3.1 is on board and has been skinned a bit, with a custom launcher front and center on the main home screen, and an interesting quick-app launcher. (The normal Honeycomb launcher is there as well.) We were told what we saw was production software, which leaves us a little worried. Rotating from landscape to portrait mode was sluggish — when it worked at all. And despite the touchscreen being capacitive, it also reacts to pressure (which is used in the notes app). And as such, we had to work to launch apps a few times. These probably aren’t insurmountable hurdles, but they stood out."

turbofan says:

Congratulations! You, too can copy/paste!

Nick Lockett says:

Buy from a bricks and mortar retailer if you want this but whatever you do, don't buy this from Lenovo direct if you're in Europe, it is fulfilled by Digital River who appear to be the most disorganised fulfillment house in the world from our experience and Lenovo Europe will just lie to you to get you off the phone. Our Tablet promptly crossed the world from China and then spend days sat with UPS because UPS said Lenovo (read Digital River) had forgotten to address it properly. Despite 8 calls to Digital River, ("Sorry, we need to contact our warehouse and we can only do that remotely because we don't even have a phone number for them "- Duh! on 8 separate occasions) and 4 promises that it will get sorted out and someone will call us back (but it seems that not only do Digital River not have a phone number for their warehouse but don't have outgoing call capability either), the system just sat in UPS's warehouse gathering dust. On 2 occasions, Lenovo told us that their logistics people has spoken to the carrier and it would be delivered that day ... but of course it wasn't. Twice it was shown for guaranteed delivery same day by UPS or guaranteed by Lenovo that it would be!.... just not to turn up and Lenovo's promises of expedited delivery as compensation were also lies as no such delivery was ever authorised by them to UPS. Other people on the various blogs have highlighted the dire nature of their after sales support if anything goes wrong - and after this experience, I'll buy from a retailer as I have a right of recourse back to someone local who has to give a damn, rather than Lenovo hidden away in the Luxembourg and irish tax havens who really don't care at all!

All the personal jabs aside, I appreciate both the article (plagerized or not) and the counter-review comment by Techgeek32. No review is ever thorough enough on its own because everyone has different needs & wants regarding the product at hand.

For me, the review did a good job of covering the specifics of the specs and techgeek32's comment did a good job of pointing out what the review did not. The confusing comments ("inking vectoring"?) I can sort out myself later if I think it is important. BTW I think he means "ghosting" of his pen's trails on the screen long after the note taking ceased...

The net is I have a solid understanding of what this tablet offers and what the potential shortcomings are. That is what I am looking to find out about any potential purchase. I always read as many of the negative comments as I can because that is where the official reviewer's bias gets eliminated - everyone has bias, we're human.

I've been intrigued by tablets and the convertible laptops (also known as tablets for a long time) that came before them (and still exist of course). In particular, I have been very interested in the Lenovo Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid since it was first announced. I like the idea of a fully functional laptop with a screen that is a detachable and fully functional tablet (ports, memory, battery, wifi, etc. and all).

But that is the point of Android and open-source in general isn't it? Choice. Flexibility. User defined and customizable parameters.

As a business owner my needs are heavily business focused (durability, functionality, flexibility in that order) with a big focus on the device enabling a seamless transition to my non-work/social activities like media, music and general pissing around with shit because its fun.

Obviously, my needs are different than many. I just hope there are enough like me to equal a profitable marketplace for manufacturers to cater to - I believe, from experience, that there are.

ss_wv says:

Wow...glad I read through this post to yours...practical, polite & to the point...thank you!
I obtained my Tpad about 3wks ago & must say I'm definitely impressed. As a biz user/tech/network admin now, I find it very practical for centralizing my device usage/carry-on, etc.
There are minor improvements, I agree...definitelly wish I'd waited another month for the 3G model. Anyone know of a good way to tether via my BBerry Torch...Bluetooth mode would be optimal I suppose, but curious of any experiences out there?
Nonetheless, I feel it a top-shelf product & thoroughly enjoy the practical development, of which we all get to take part.
Thanks again to all & look forward to any positive feedback of course.
Sincerely,

SS_WV