Lenovo ThinkPad Helix review

Reviews 16 Jul, 2013

A hybrid Ultrabook with Intel Core i power, great keyboard dock and decent battery life.

4
Price: 
£1,300 inc VAT
Pros: 
Great keyboard; Pin-sharp display; Battery in the display and keyboard
Cons: 
Top heavy and prone to tip while on lap; Expensive when compared with more desirable rival machines
Verdict: 
One of the best Windows 8 hybrids on the market, but it comes at a high price. The ThinkPad Helix performs provides good performance with the x86 architecture without sacrificing battery life. Coupled with the excellent keyboard from the trusted ThinkPad range, it's a well crafted all-round machine.

With Apple tablets flying off the shelves at breakneck speeds and PC shipments continuing to fall off a cliff, OEMs are trying desperately to come up with unique form factors to attract users.

Lenovo is one of a long line of vendors hoping to generate cash from Windows 8 hybrid tablets in the form of the ThinkPad Helix - a convertible Ultrabook. But hybrid tablets are a questionable breed and in our experience provide a subpar experience overall. Can the ThinkPad Helix change that?
 
Dock and flip

You cannot complain about the build quality and looks of the ThinkPad Helix. After Apple's gorgeous MacBook range, the Lenovo is the next best thing.

As it is more of a tablet than an Ultrabook, virtually all of the guts of the machine sit behind the display. This gives the feeling the machine is top heavy. However,the whole thing weighs in at 1.70kg with the tablet accounting for 0.835kg, so the tablet is just under half the weight of the whole machine.

The dock fastens to the display via six different connections and snaps shut reassuringly. You can pick it up by the display when docked and it won’t fall apart. But we're not entirely convinced by one part of the design. At the back of the hinge is a flap that covers the fan. This flap, according to manufacturer, redirects air from the fans to keep the machine cool.

We don't really see why it's needed though and it doesn't do anything - much like everyone's appendix. We also have the feeling that after prolonged usage it will snap off at some point in its lifetime.

The design allows for the display to face the keyboard or to face away, presumably for that presentation or a bit of movie watching in the hotel room, post conference. When in the latter mode, the flap can cover the start button at certain angles.

When the tablet is not docked, the hinge is rather hard to move. It’s easier to move when docked, but there have been a few times when testing that you want to close the hinge flat but have to put in quite a bit of effort to do so when the tablet is undocked.

Specifications: 

Display: 11.6in Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS (400 NITS)
Processor: Intel Core i5 5-3427U (2.8GHz) or Intel Core i7-3667U (3.2GHz)
Memory: Up to 8GB DD3 Operating System: Windows 8 (64-bit) or Windows 8 Pro (64-bit)
Storage: 128GB/180GB/256GB SSD
Wireless: WANN Ericsson C5621 TFF (with GPS), Wi-Fi (Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235)
Ports: 1x USB 2, 2 x USB 3, 2x Mini DP, Sim, audio jack
Camera: 720p HD face-tracking technology, low light sensitive
Dimensions: 297 x 185 x 12.7mm
Weight: 816g (Tablet only) 1.72kg (Clamshell)
Battery: 4-cell battery in keyboard dock and 3-cell battery in tablet.