The Tablet 2 is not a cheap tablet. It costs a considerable £700 for a model with 64GB of flash storage – and that’s the only capacity on offer. There are no accessories like a keyboard dock included either.
While this is likely to be cheaper than Microsoft’s Surface Pro if it launches in the UK, it has a weaker looking specification than the Surface Pro.
The design of the ThinkPad Tablet 2 is quite plain. It's an oblong slab of black – reasonably thin at 10.2mm and easy to hold, aided by the soft rubberised plastic finish. It weighs a comfortable 574g so isn't as brick-like as other Windows tablets.
Some of the tablet’s ports are hidden by plastic flaps and a small round Windows button sits below the screen on a wide bezel. A stylus slots into one end of the tablet.
Build quality is superficially good but is flawed on closer inspection. The tablet is worryingly bendy and the seams come apart far too easily, exposing internal components.
Hardware and performance
Although the ThinkPad Tablet 2 comes with Windows 8 Pro it doesn't have the specification to match the Surface Pro. Where Microsoft’s hardware has an Intel Core i5, Lenovo has opted for a low-power Intel Atom Z2760, a dual-core processor clocked at 1.8GHz. This is backed with 2GB of slower LPDDR2 memory.
In GeekBench 2 the Tablet 2 scored an average of 1387 points. That’s poor when you consider a modern laptop scores around 10,000 and up-to-date smartphones can even score in excess of 2000 points. PCMark 7 returned a similarly unimpressive score of 1427 points.
What these number means is that the Tablet 2 feels fine when word processing or swishing around the Metro interface using Windows 8 gestures. Any harder work is likely to make the Lenovo struggle.
Gaming is also out of the question, unless you’re content with Cut the Rope from the Windows Store. Our basic FEAR benchmark resulted in a dire result of 2fps.
By default, the Tablet 2 will dim the screen after two minutes of inactivity and go to sleep after five. After the Tablet 2 goes to sleep it takes 20 seconds to wake up again, which is frustratingly slow. This tablet harks back to the days before ‘instant on’.
The Tablet 2 uses a 10.1in touchscreen display with a Surface RT-matching resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. The IPS panel means viewing angles are good but we found the display lacking in brightness. You can try to gesture around the desktop interface with your fingers but the device is supplied with a stylus which is nearly essential to use Windows 8.
We like this addition, which comes in handy for the desktop mode when you require the accuracy of a mouse pointer. Hovering the stylus above the screen makes a cursor appear and a button changes your input to a right-click.
It can be difficult to remember to use it like a mouse rather than a finger sometimes, especially when scrolling. More annoying is lack of precision at the edges of the screen, making it even harder to close or minimise windows.
The 64GB built-in storage simply won't be enough for many potential users. By the time we’d installed a few programs, amounting to a couple of gigabyte, there was only 26GB of free space available.
Like Microsoft's Surface, the tablet includes a USB port, hidden under a plastic flap. It's useful for attaching thumbdrives, and you can also connect mouse, keyboard, or camera. Unfortunately it's not USB 3.0, and it’s underpowered – we couldn't use any external optical drive we tried due to a shortage of bus power.
You'll want to attach a keyboard for typing. But propping the tablet up is tricky since there's no kickstand or other support. Lenovo makes a Bluetooth keyboard with stand but this costs a substantial £133.
The build quality, specifications and performance of the ThinkPad Tablet 2 don't match its high price. The inclusion of a stylus makes Windows easier to manage and the battery life is better than faster Windows tablets. But it’s not enough to warrant any recommendation.