Lenovo has really gone gung-ho for ‘convertible’ Windows 8 devices that try to be both laptop and tablet. Along with its Yoga, Helix and Lynx ranges Lenovo has added a new Twist, which itself has recently received a modest processor update. But right now, it’s still running with the last generation of Intel processor, rather than the Haswell series that works so well in lightweight laptops. See also: Group test: what's the best tablet PC?
The Twist is essentially the business version of the Yoga. So both Yoga and Twist are Intel Ultrabook designs with a reversible, touch-sensitive screen that folds right back flat to make a fat tablet. But the twist is that the Twist can also spin its screen around, like the unlamented old Window slates, since it’s only secured by a small swivelling hinge in the centre. See also: Group test: what's the best ultraportable laptop?
The Twist has an uncommon size 12.5-inch screen, and at 1.6 kg is heavy for an Ultrabook of this size, let alone a tablet that usually weighs much less than half that.
You certainly couldn’t hold it in one hand comfortably while you browse the web. But it’s nice to have a tablet option to lay it flat on a desk. Or rest it flat on your lap when you’re sitting on train or a plane.
It’s sturdily built, with Gorilla Glass-covered screen. The 1366 x 768-pixel display is very bright and colourful, and uses an IPS panel to provide close to 180-degree viewing. This will come in handy for business presentations – especially as the Twist’s big selling point is impromptu presentations to colleagues or clients by quickly twisting the screen around.
You can also fold the Twist over into A-section ‘tent’ mode, using the keyboard panel as a stand while you sit back to watch video. Or you just fold the keyboard back completely and use as a tablet.
With business users in mind, the Twist runs Windows 8 Pro as well as Lenovo’s Solutions For Small Business software. This includes features such as a USB Blocker to prevent unauthorised users from copying files onto external USB storage.
The keyboard feels firm and comfortable to use for long periods, although the 80 x 55mm trackpad is small. But, like many business laptops, the Twist also has an old-fashioned ‘trackpoint’ in the centre of the keyboard.
The Lenovo Twist range was updated so that the Intel Core i5 processor in the entry-level model gets a small speed bump from 1.7GHz to 1.8GHz. It’s still stuck with the less efficient Ivy Bridge series chip though.
The price has also been cut by about £50 to £799 on Lenovo’s web site, although memory on the entry-level model has also been reduced from 8GB to 4GB.
Another £50 will allow you to step up to a Core i7 processor running at 2 GHz and 8GB of memory. That may seem like a better deal, but bear in mind the additional impace on battery life. You can also get a 128 GB SSD drive, and that adds a further £150 to the overall price.
The 320 GB hard drive on this model remains the same and – as before – is backed up by a 24 GB SSD module that helps it to respond more smoothly.
The Lenovo Twist managed a score of 2887 points when running the PCMark 7 benchmarks, which is hardly outstanding, but adequate for running MS Office and routine web browsing.
The integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 graphics are enough for light off-duty gaming. The ThinkPad Twist could just about reach 25 fps on games like Batman: Arkham City, if you don’t mind turning the graphics settings down to ‘low’ and running at reduced 1280 x 720 resolution.
One real disappointment with the Twist was how far it fell short of Lenovo’s claim of 7-hour battery life. We got just 3 hours and 45 minutes of streaming video out of it. That might be stretched for another hour for basic tasks. But that’s still inadequate for a business device that’s supposed to spend any time away from the mains.