Productivity-minded tablet users have a new compelling option in the Lenovo ThinkPad 8, an 8.3-inch Windows 8.1 slate with plenty of high-end features. Announced today and available later this month for $399, the ThinkPad 8 features a sharp 1920 x 1200 screen, an 8-MP rear camera, a free copy of Microsoft Office and a speedy, power-efficient Intel Z3770 Atom “Bay Trail” processor.
We had a chance to go hands-on with the ThinkPad Tablet 8 at CES 2014 and were intrigued by its attractive design, vibrant display and innovative optional cover.
MORE: Best of CES 2014 Awards
With its raven black chassis, subtle ThinkPad logo and red-rimmed rear camera lens, the Tablet 8 has a classy design that’s all business. At 8.9 x 5.2 x 34 inches and 15.2 ounces, the Tablet 8 is a bit bigger than the Dell Venue 8 Pro (8.5 x 5.11 x 0.35 inches, 13.6 ounces) but it also has a larger 8.3-inch display. We found that the Tablet 8 was easy to grip with one hand in portrait mode and we appreciated the cool, sturdy feel of the aluminum back.
The ThinkPad 8 has the kind of connectivity options business users need, with a microUSB port for connecting to peripherals, a microHDMI port for video out, a microSD card reader aqnd optional mobile broadband connectivity. In its demo area, Lenovo showed a ThinkPad 8 connected to one of its ThinkPad USB docks, which powered two giant full HD monitors and a full size keyboard.
With its Intel Atom Z3770 Quad-Core processor, the ThinkPad 8 packs enough power for serious productivity work and strong battery life. As a member of Intel’s Bay Trail family of low-cost, low-energy CPUs, the Z3770 has the ability to decode 4K video and even play some modest action games such as Torchlight 2, all while lasting over 8 hours on a charge.
Because Lenovo expects people to use this tablet for serious productivity, the company offers up to 128GB of internal storage for your files and applications. A free copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student lets you edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations without spending any more money.
Lenovo is emphasizing photography with this tablet, providing an 8-MP rear shooter that is much sharper than the Dell Venue 8 Pro’s 5-MP camera. We were particularly impressed with the optional QuickShot cover, which fired up the Windows 8.1 camera app as soon as we flipped down the portion that covers the rear lens. This process took us straight to the camera app even when the system was locked.
Better still, the cover is rigid enough to prop the tablet up in tent mode or portrait mode when you place it on a flat surface. You’ll want to prop it up like that when watching a video, showing a presentation or docking with a keyboard and mouse.
The ThinkPad 8′s most attractive feature might be its 1920 x 1200 display, which is significantly sharper than we’ve seen on competitors like 1280 x 800 Dell Venue 8 Pro. When navigating through the OS, images were sharp and colorful and did not degrade when we viewed the device from an angle.
We were big fans of last year’s ThinkPad Tablet 2, because it was the first Windows 8 tablet to combine long battery life, solid performance and a lightweight design. Although it loses pen input, the ThinkPad 8 could be the new must-have Windows tablet, not just for business users but for everybody who needs to get work done.