Lenovo ThinkPad 8 Review

The number of Lenovo tablets has multiplied rapidly in the last year or so, and the results haven’t always been positive. With the business-oriented ThinkPad 8, however, the manufacturer clearly opted for a strategy of high quality at any price.

The end result is a tablet that’s bold, beautiful and decidedly pricey compared to tablets meant for the consumer market. It’s no doubt a premium device, but is it worth shelling out the extra cash?

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Hands-On Impressions

The ThinkPad line has garnered a reputation for superior build quality, and that perception is certainly borne out here. The aluminum body and rubberized borders feel fantastic to hold, and the slate seems practically bulletproof.

Measuring 8.8-by-5.2-by-0.35 inches and tipping the scales at 14.4 ounces, the ThinkPad is pretty moderately sized. It’s thinner and lighter than Toshiba’s Encore, but it’s a bit large compared to tablets like the Dell Venue 8 Pro. Even compared to Lenovo’s own Miix 2, the ThinkPad 8 is 0.05 inches thicker and 2.2 ounces heavier.

However, rather than feeling big and bulky, the added heft only reinforces the premium, well-constructed feel.

Tablet Tour

Touring around the ThinkPad 8, the power button, volume rocker and micro-USB 3.0 socket are arrayed along the top of the right edge. The upper left edge is reserved for covered micro-SIM and microSD card readers, with a micro-HDMI port just below.

The top is empty, as is the bottom except for a standard 3.5-millimeter headphone jack. Dual speaker grilles are placed on the bottom of the back edge, with an 8-megapixel camera at top left. The capacitive Windows button is on the bottom center of the front bezel.

Resolving the Details

Though the superb build quality deserves attention, the ThinkPad 8’s display is clearly the star of the show. The 8.3-inch, 1,920-by-1,200 pixel display is a huge step up from the Venue 8 Pro, Miix 2 and Encore, whose 1,280-by-800 panels can’t match up in a tablet comparison.

The ThinkPad’s screen is sharp and vibrant, and the combination of excellent brightness and low glare make it easy to use even outdoors. The viewing angles are also excellent, as there’s little drop-off in image quality as you move away from center.

Under the Hood

The ThinkPad 8 also sports upgraded innards, with a 2.39-gigahertz Intel Atom Z3770 chip and two gigabytes of RAM. It’s certainly an improvement over the competition, though the real-world difference isn’t as big as you might expect.

In a head-to-head tablet comparison, the Lenovo ThinkPad 8 consistently performs slightly better than the alternatives. It’s not something you’re likely to notice during routine use, but still it’s nice to know you’ve got a few extra horsepower under the hood if you need it.

Tablet Roundup

There’s little doubt that the Lenovo ThinkPad 8 is a better tablet than the Dell Venue 8 Pro, Toshiba Encore or Lenovo’s own Miix 2. The build quality is superb, and so is the display. The hardware is the best of the bunch, too, even if the real-world difference is marginal.

The real choice when deciding between these options, then, is the price tag. The Venue 8 Pro and Miix 2 both offer good displays with solid build quality, and they do so at a lower price point. For consumers with a bit of room in their budgets, however, the excellent ThinkPad is hard to pass on.

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