Lenovo ThinkPad Helix review

Lenovo asserts its mastery of the Windows 8 hybrid with the ThinkPad Helix, but it comes at a cost

4
Price when reviewed 
1,769

Page 1 of 2 Lenovo ThinkPad Helix review

While most Windows 8 hybrids have sought to capture everyone’s attention, Lenovo’s ThinkPad Helix is happy to appeal to a more select audience: it’s the first one to take aim at the business user. With the body of an 11.6in tablet, the heart of an Ultrabook and a nifty keyboard dock, the Helix is Lenovo’s vision of a hybrid that’s destined for the boardroom.

At first glance, there’s no mistaking the Helix for anything but a traditional ThinkPad. It’s hewn from a slab of matte black, interrupted only by the occasional logo. There’s just the faintest hint of silver glitter in the matte finish, but with delicately tapered edges and a soft-touch rubberised feel to every inch of the chassis, this business-focused machine doesn’t draw attention to itself.

Business hardware is often synonymous with dull and boring design, but someone clearly didn’t tell the designers of the ThinkPad Helix. It isn’t as slender as Lenovo’s gorgeous ThinkPad X1 Carbon, but there’s a good reason for it: the Helix is actually a self-sufficient 11.6in tablet seamlessly mated to a keyboard dock.

The tablet itself weighs 848g – a little less than the 904g of Microsoft’s Surface Pro – and the keyboard adds another 822g to the total. That sounds a bit much, but it crams a lot in, adding an extra battery, a couple of USB 3 ports and a mini-DisplayPort output.

Features and design

With the tablet slotted in place, the Helix masquerades as an alluring 11.6in laptop. The full-sized keyboard lacks depth compared to the best ThinkPads, but it’s quite capable. The subtly scooped-out profile of the Scrabble-tile keys grips the finger, and the wide channels separating the keys make it easy to build up a rapid touch-typing cadence. Needless to say, it’s far superior to the Type Cover of the Microsoft Surface Pro.

The classic red trackpoint is set adrift in the keyboard’s centre, and there’s a huge, buttonless touchpad beneath. The only departure from standard ThinkPads concerns the trackpoint’s buttons, which are actually built into the top of the touchpad. Both work well, though, and as the touchpad is almost perfectly flush with the wristrest, Windows 8’s edge-swipes respond reliably to light flicks of the finger.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix

In laptop mode, the Helix’s display has a very limited amount of backward tilt, which leaves the display at a rather steep angle. It’s a compromise Lenovo has had to make to stop the Helix toppling backwards, whether on a desk or a lap – where it’s essential to gently counterbalance the tablet’s weight with your wrists – but it’s far from unworkable.

We had little trouble tapping out emails and reviews with the Helix sitting on our lap on a packed train or tube carriage – it’s certainly far more usable than the Surface Pro while out and about. Also, when you’ve finished working, you can flip the tablet around and dock it backwards, turning the keyboard base into an adjustable stand.

If you depress the small latch on the bottom left of the hinge, the tablet separates from the keyboard. Visually, it’s as plain and ordinary as tablets come, but it feels reassuringly sturdy, and it’s well appointed with features. Along the bottom edge, there’s a power input, a docking connector, a SIM card slot for the integrated 3G, a USB 3 port and a mini-DisplayPort output.

Page 1 of 2 Lenovo ThinkPad Helix review

Warranty

Warranty3 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions296 x 187 x 18mm (WDH)
Weight1.670kg
Travelling weight2.0kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i7-3667U
RAM capacity8.00GB
Memory typeDDR3L
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total0

Screen and video

Screen size11.6in
Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,080
Resolution1920 x 1080
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics 4000
DisplayPort outputs1

Drives

Capacity180GB
Spindle speedN/A
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0

Networking

802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapteryes
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad, trackpoint, touchscreen
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating5.0mp
TPMyes

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use6hr 47min
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.64
Responsiveness score0.76
Media score0.70
Multitasking score0.47

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 8 Pro 64-bit
OS familyWindows 8

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