Lenovo recently hopped on the tablet bandwagon with the IdeaPad and ThinkPad tablets. Like in the case of their laptops, the IdeaPad is targeted at the general audience, while the ThinkPad is skewed more towards office productivity.

The App Market

The App Market

Design and Build Quality
The design of this 10.1-inch tablet is reminiscent of Lenovo’s Thinkpad laptops. The all-black shell with a soft matte finish on the back panel exudes class and lends a sturdy feel.  However, measuring 58.4 x 181.7 x 14 mm, it’s quite bulky for a 10.1-inch tablet. It’s not svelte like the Galaxy Tab 750, which makes it a bit uncomfortable to use handheld, but it doesn’t matter when you’re using it at your desk.

What make this tablet stand out from the rest are the accessories, slew of ports lined up on the sides and a few extra hot keys. When held in landscape mode with the camera located at the top, you have a Mini HDMI port, a docking connector, a 3.5 mm audio jack and a micro USB slot all exposed on the right side. A SIM card slot and an SD card slot are also present, but they’re hidden behind a plastic flap. On the opposite side, you have the volume rocker and a hollow compartment to store the digitizer pen that’s included in the bundle. The pen uses a single AAA battery and comes with two additional tips. The power button is placed on the longer side right above the camera and on the opposite side features a full size USB 2.0 port, which has been cleverly placed. This port supports USB host function for accessing data on external storage devices and it doubles as an interface for the keyboard folio.

Connector at the bottom

Connector at the bottom

The keyboard folio adds value to the tablet, but it’s an optional accessory that costs Rs 6,129. It serves the same purpose as the dock, which the Asus EeePad Transformer users, but this one neither features a battery pack nor a USB port. The tablet snugly fits into the housing and you can incline it at one of the three angles depending on your viewing comfort. The keyboard has large keys and the layout is standard with a row of keys on the top for commonly used functions, such as volume control, home, zoom, media playback, back and delete. Instead of the conventional touchpad, Lenovo has gone in with an optical trackpad, which is placed at the center. The red ring around the trackpad and the red borders on the left and right mouse buttons are typical of ThinkPad’s styling. The keyboard is definitely more comfortable than using the on-screen keyboard and the feel of the keyboard is very good.

Features and Performance
Interface
The Lenovo ThinkPad runs Android Honeycomb 3.1 and the hardware that it uses is similar to that used in other 10.1-inch tablets of its class – 1 GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM and graphics powered by Nvidia Tegra 2. This tablet is available in two capacity variants – the 32GB model costs Rs.44,871 and the 64GB model costs Rs.47,871. Since there’s a difference of a few thousand rupees between the two capacities, it’s wiser to go in for the latter, if your budget allows you.

The user interface is pretty standard with very little customization and a few widgets. A useful feature is that you can view and close applications running in the background using the icon next to the Home icon. Also very handy is the large widget called Lenovo Launch Zone at the centre of the home screen. It has zones for watching, email, listening and reading. You have the option to associate the programs of your choice to the zones and there’s also a shortcut to the Settings page.

Hand writing recognition capabilities

Hand writing recognition capabilities

The ThinkPad breezed through the multi-thread test in Linpack in 3.15 seconds and logged an impressive 53.545 MFLOPS. Single thread test reported 31.481 MFLOPS. AnTuTu logged an overall score of 4989 points.

Media
The audio and video player provided are stock applications that have limited features, but serve the purpose. We recommend installing third party media players, if you want better playback controls and enhancements. The stock video player supports DivX, XviD, WMV and H.264 formats without any problems. 720p video playback was smooth and the quality of audio was good. However, the volume level wasn’t to our satisfaction even when cranked to full.

The neat interface

The neat interface

Connectivity
Along with Wi-Fi connectivity, the Lenovo ThinkPad supports 3G. The USB host function and SD card slot come in very handy for instant data transfer. Simply insert the SD card containing photos that you shot with your digital camera and you can view and copy them without any hassles. Lenovo has provided an app called USB File Utility, which pops up as soon as you plug-in an external storage device. You can then transfer data between the internal memory and the external source (dragging and dropping icons is supported).

Misc. applications
The ThinkPad comes pre-installed with a big bunch of apps and games. These include, HW Hears SE, HW Solitaire SE, HW Spades SE, Movie Stdio, Docs to Go, mSpot Music, Notes Mobile, ooVoo, PrinterShare and Social Touch. Out of these, Notes Mobile and PrinterShare are most interesting. Notes Mobile is meant for note taking and supports handwriting recognition. It’s the only bundled app that makes the best use of the digitizer pen. You can also use the digitizer instead of touching the screen, but touch input is much more convenient. PrinterShare allows printing documents and photos wirelessly.

A compartent to store the pen digitizer

A compartent to store the pen digitizer

Battery life
After charging the device completely, we first put it through the Tech 2 battery test in which we looped playback of a standard definition video. The video played for a little more than thrice and the battery lasted for a good 8 hours.

Tablet designed for office productivity

Tablet designed for office productivity

Verdict
Discrete input devices are much more convenient than the touchscreen, especially when a lot of typing is involved (for example e-mail, chatting and word processing). At Rs.44,871 the Lenovo ThinkPad is a little more expensive than the Asus EeePad Transformer. Go in for the ThinkPad, if the digitizer pen is of prime importance to you (for digital art, note taking, etc). Otherwise, the EeePad Transformer offers better value for money with the provision of an additional battery pack and a USB port.

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