With a couple exceptions, we hadn’t heard much about Lenovo’s Windows 8 plans until now. Okay, it teased the IdeaPad Yoga back at CES, and recently unveiled the business-friendly ThinkPad Tablet 2. But surely the company wasn’t going to stop there, right? Hardly. Lenovo just announced the IdeaTab Lynx, an 11.6-inch laptop / tablet hybrid aimed at mainstream consumers. Like so many other products with this form factor, it runs a dual-core, Clovertrail-based Atom processor, paired with 2GB of RAM and either 32 or 64GB of solid-state storage, depending on the configuration you choose. Unsurprisingly, the detachable keyboard dock has a built-in 6,800mAh battery of its own, which promises to double the tablet’s runtime from eight hours to 16. In this case, though, the machine benefits from Lenovo’s keyboard know-how, so as small as the 1.45-pound dock is, it still offers an AccuType layout similar to what you’d find on Lenovo’s bigger notebooks.
Detach the tablet from its dock and you have a 1.4-pound tablet that measures 9.45mm thick. That 11.6-inch, 400-nit screen is of IPS caliber, so the viewing angles should be decent if you attempt to use it outdoors or watch movies from an odd angle (say, with the screen dipped forward on an airplane tray). Poke around the device and you’ll find micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports, along with a microSD slot for external storage. It also has a 2-megapixel webcam up front for video chatting, though interestingly, there’s no camera module on the back side. The dock, meanwhile, adds two full-sized USB 2.0 ports. According to Lenovo, the Lynx will be available in December, starting at $600 for the standalone tablet. (The keyboard dock will be a $150 add-on.) Until then, we’ve got some early hands-on photos below, along with the usual spate of press shots.
Intel just outed its new Atom SoC, and at its tablet event in San Francisco today, the company had a whole slew of slates packing the Clover Trail silicon on hand. Dell’s Latitude 10, the ASUS Tablet 810, Acer’s Iconia W510 and W700, Lenovo’s ThinkPad 2, the HP Envy x2 and Samsung’s Series 5 were all there. However, it was the handsome slice of Windows 8 from ZTE that really caught our attention. Called the V98, it has a 10.1-inch, 1366 x 768 LCD on top of an aluminum chassis with a beveled edge similar to what you’d find on a white iPhone 5. Beneath that handsome exterior is the aforementioned Intel Z2760 chipset, 64GB of ROM, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (plus a microSD slot if you need more digital space). There’s 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, tri-band UMTS and quad-band GSM radios, plus NFC and LTE can be had as options. It’s got an accelerometer, proximity and ambient light sensors, a magnetometer and a gyro, too. An 8-megapixel camera is stuck in the back, while a 2-megapixel shooter resides round front. ZTE managed to stuff all that and a 7,000mAh battery inside a svelte 8.9mm-thin package.
We got to spend a little bit of time with a prototype ZTE model, and found the hardware to be solid for a hand-built unit. Its aluminum chassis makes for quite a rigid device in hand, and the machined and polished bevel gives the V98 a very high-end look. The chromed plastic volume rocker, power button and screen orientation lock switch nestled in the plastic radio reception strip at the top of the device are decidedly less luxurious, however — the travel of each was shallow, and the finish on the plastic appeared a bit cheap to our eyes. That said, the rotating magnetic aluminum door that reveals the SD card and SIM slots is slick — far easier to open and close than the plastic port covers found on most other slates. There’s also a 30-pin docking port on the bottom edge of the tablet, but ZTE informed us it’d be another month or so before the dock is ready for public consumption. Unfortunately, the V98 won’t be available for purchase until Q1 of next year, but you can see if its worth waiting for in our gallery of shots below.
Intel details Clover Trail tablets: three weeks on standby, 10 hours of use, ‘full’ Windows 8 experience
You only have to look at the tidal wave of Ultrabooks to know that Intel design specifications can carry a lot of influence with manufacturers. That’s why the chip-maker’s claims about its latest reference tablet, built around a dual-core Atom Z2760 processor (aka “Clover Trail”), likely give us a broad hint of what to expect from devices like the forthcoming Lenovo Think Pad 2, ASUS Vivo Tab and Samsung ATIV Smart PC.
In particular, Intel has shown us slides claiming that the dual-core 1.8GHz chip with Imagination SGX545 graphics will offer the “best Windows 8 experience” on a tablet with “compatibility and support for traditional apps and peripherals.” And if you think that sounds like a subtle jibe at ARM-based tablets running Windows RT — a version of the OS that doesn’t even try to play nice with existing software — then you could be right. To be fair though, the point of RT is to offer superior portability, and that’s why Intel is also keen to emphasize that Clover Trail won’t impact too heavily on your freedom of movement. Tablets should come in below 1.5 pounds (680 grams — similar to the RT spec and much lighter than a Windows 8 Pro tablet) and 8.5mm in thickness, with built-in 3G, 4G and NFC. You shouldn’t need to carry a charger either, since a new power management system promises a distinctly un-laptop-like three weeks on standby and a full day of “active use” — defined as being at least 10 hours.
Windows 8 tablets won’t be like Windows 8 Pro machines, however, so don’t go expecting USB 3.0, or a guarantee of 1080p visuals (most Clover Trail devices we’ve seen are 1,366 x 768) or souped-up security — the Atom Z2760 is very much an evolved Medfield processor, with similar silicon and firmware, rather than a shrunken laptop chip.
Needless to say, what really matters is how well manufacturers adopt this design and what price points they manage to hit. Intel says that at least 20 different Clover Trail tablets are already in the works, and early price tags seem to be around the $799 mark — a hefty demand for sure, but perhaps one worth paying for those who need full-fledged Windows 8 and true portability at the same time. RT tablets, meanwhile, will have to come in much cheaper than that in order to be worthwhile.
Samsung didn’t leave its ATIV introductions to just an ARM tablet and a phone. We first saw them as the Series 5 and Series 7 tablets, which will likely be their final US names; to recap, though, the newly branded ATIV Smart PC and ATIV Smart PC Pro both look to capture some of that Transformer-like aura by mating an 11.6-inch tablet with a detachable keyboard dock for a laptop experience. Some of Samsung’s own Galaxy Note vibe rubs off on them, too — both carry an S Pen and a bundled S Note app for some on-the-spot writing. They likewise share support for 3G and 4G as well as micro-HDMI and USB, but there’s a clear difference depending on what you buy. Going for the regular Smart PC loads in a modest Clover Trail-based Intel Atom processor and a 1,366 x 768 display, but offers a lengthy 13.5-hour battery life, 2GB of RAM, up to a 128GB flash drive, a rear 8-megapixel camera and a 2-megapixel front camera. Slap that “Pro” moniker on the front and you have to drop to eight hours of battery life and a 5-megapixel rear camera, but you’ll get a much faster Core i5 processor, a 1080p display, 4GB of RAM and as much as a 256GB SSD. Unlike the ATIV Tab, we do know the Smart PCs will be available in the US on October 26th at $649 for a base Smart PC/Series 5, $749 for a bundle with the keyboard and $1,119 for a Smart PC Pro/Series 7 with a 128GB SSD built-in.
Yes, another Windows 8 tablet. After getting hands-on with some new devices from Acer, ASUS and Samsung, you might already having trouble telling one device from the other. You might even say the same about Lenovo, which is showing off an early-stage tablet here at Computex. The difference? We can’t remember the last time we saw even a Windows 7 tablet by Lenovo. So when the company trots out a slate running Win8, it doesn’t just feel like a mandatory upgrade from one OS to another; it feels like Lenovo entering a new category.