The ThinkPad Helix has a hybrid design with four different usage modes – laptop, tablet, stand and tablet+. To enable these modes, the Helix employs what Lenovo calls a “rip and flip” design. Starting with the Helix as a clamshell laptop, you can detach the tablet from the keyboard dock by pressing a button near the hinge.
Flip the tablet around and slot it back into the dock with the screen facing outwards. This is stand mode, which is intended for presentations.
From stand mode, push the screen back till it rests on the keyboard to get tablet+ mode. The main benefit here is that the tablet will be able to tap into the secondary battery in the keyboard dock. As a tablet, the 11.6-inch Helix is fairly hefty at 830g. This doubles to 1.66kg with the keyboard dock attached.
The Helix lasted a good 7hr 27min with the extra battery from the keyboard dock, but only 4hr 51min without the dock.
The keyboard dock also comes with a pair of small fans at the base where it connects to the tablet. According to Lenovo, the fans cool the tablet when docked, allowing its Intel Core i7 processor to run faster for better performance. In PCMark 7, I noticed that the score increased by around 17 per cent, a decent improvement.
The tablet has a USB 2.0 port, a mini DisplayPort and a SIM card slot for 3G connectivity. The dock adds only a USB 3.0 port. There is no Ethernet port and no SD card reader.
The keyboard dock provides a good user experience. The keys are tactile and well-spaced and the dock itself feels solid. However, the touchpad sometimes failed to register my clicks.
The screen offers excellent viewing angles due to its use of an in-plane switching (IPS) panel. Text and photos look sharp on the 1,920 x 1,080-pixel screen, but the downside is that icons are tiny in desktop mode unless you tweak the display settings.
Lenovo has created a useful and polished Windows 8 app for users to adjust settings such as creating a mobile hot spot using the touch interface.
The business slant is evident from the warranty options available for the Helix. Users can choose from between one and four years of coverage and include extras such as accidental damage protection.
The Core i7 version of the Helix comes with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive. The device is costly, especially when it uses a last-generation Intel processor.
However, business users may find its 3G connectivity and warranty options attractive.
The Lenovo ThinkPad Helix is a solid Windows 8 convertible tablet that may appeal more to business users.
Processor: Intel Core i7-3667U (2GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000
Display: 11.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
Connectivity: (For tablet) Mini DisplayPort, USB 2.0, SIM card; (With dock) 2 x USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort
Battery: 42 watt-hour
Value for money: 2
Battery life: 4
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