Microsoft will soon unveil one or more new Surface tablets, but Lenovo has a new business-friendly slate of its own. Available in June for a starting price of $599, the ThinkPad 10 combines a sharp 1920 x 1200 display, an Intel Atom Baytrail processor and a digitizer pen. You’ll also find a plethora of business-friendly accessories, including two different keyboard covers and a docking station.
On the outside, the ThinkPad 10 looks a lot like its smaller sibling, the ThinkPad 8, with a smooth black aluminum chassis that’s accented by a red ring around the rear camera lens and the silver and red ThinkPad logo. The front has a rather clean glossy black bezel while the aluminum sides are adorned with a few useful ports, including a full size USB 2 port, micro HDMI out and a micro SD card slot.
The ThinkPad 10 includes either 64 or 128GB of eMMC storage memory, along with an 802.11n Wi-Fi radio and oprtional 3G or 4G connectivity.
At 10.1 x 7 x .35 inches and 1.3 pounds, the new ThinkPad is thinner but slightly heavier than the ASUS Transformer Book T100 (10.4 x 6.7 x .41 , 1.2 pounds) yet much lighter than the 11-inch Dell Venue Core 11 Pro (11 x 6.95 x .6 inches, 1.6 pounds) and Core i5-powered Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (10.8 x 6.81 x .53 inches, 2 pounds).
In a brief hands-on with the ThinkPad 10, we were particularly impressed with its vivid 1920 x 1200 display, as Windows 8.1′s tiles and wallpaper appeared particularly colorful. At 224 pixels-per-inch, the tablet is significantly sharper than the 207 PPI Microsoft Surface Pro 2, but behind the iPad Air’s 264 PPI. The screen supports 10 points of touch and works with the included active stylus.
On the inside, the ThinkPad 10 has a quad-core, 1.6-GHz Intel Atom Baytrail Z3795 CPU with either 2 or 4GB of RAM. Because of the low-power CPU, Lenovo promises up to 10 hours of battery life, a claim we find reasonable based on our experience with other Baytrail-powered slates like the TransformerBook T100.
While many tablets skimp on camera quality, Lenovo includes a generious 8-MP rear camera to go with a 2-MP front-facing sensor for web chats. Like the ThinkPad 8, the 10 has an optional, $69 Quickshot cover which launches the camera app as soon as you fold down a flap on its rear.
In addition to the Quickshot cover, Lenovo will offer a wide variety of useful accessories to help users make the most of the ThinkPad 10. A $129 Ultrabook keyboard dock features physical keys and a touchpad, along with a powerful magnet that holds the tablet in place and allows it to close like a clamshell. Later in the summer, Lenovo will release a $119 touch case which has flat keys like those on the Microsoft Surface Touch Covers.
A $119 Tablet Dock provides Ethernet, full size HDMI out, two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack, an always-on charging port and rapid charging capability for the ThinkPad 10. Also due later in the summer, a $69 rugged case will protect the ThinkPad 10 from water and drops; an elastic strap on its back will make it easy for users to hold the tablet as they walk around.
Because it’s a ThinkPad, Lenovo will offer a number of IT-friendly services with the ThinkPad 10, including accidental damage protection, laser etching and many extended warranty choices.
We look forward to seeing just how well the ThinkPad compares to the best productivity tablets on the market, including the Surface Pro 2 and Dell Venue 11 Pro, when it comes out later this spring.