Lenovo describes the ThinkPad Helix has a 'rip and flip' design and called it the 'ultimate Windows 8 convertible'. The device starts at a hefty price of £1339 and we took a look at the middle-of-the-range £1599 model so were expecting great things. See all laptop reviews.
Lenovo ThinkPad Helix: Design and build
It's not the lightest tablet at 835g but it's got the specifications of a high-end ultraportable laptop. If you include the docking station, the ThinkPad helix weighs 1.6 kg – quite reasonable for a laptop. For a hybrid, it's pretty thin at 20.4 mm. See also: The 8 best laptops: What's the best laptop you can buy in 2013?
What we need to point out is that this is no handheld tablet – one-handed anyway. Like Microsoft’s Surface, it's too long and bulky and will put large amounts of strain on the wrist. However, it works well as a desk- or lap-bound tablet. The keyboard is comfortable to use and the five-button trackpad is the best we've seen on a hybrid. Visit Top 8 best Windows 8 tablets.
The design is a highlight and it can fold into different shapes like Lenovo's Yoga range. The difference is that, by pushing one button, it can be detached from the keyboard like Asus' Transformer range. It docks forwards and backwards enabling the different modes – laptop, tablet, stand and tablet+.
As is typical for Lenovo ThinkPad devices, the Helix is well built. It feels sturdy and ready for tough business trips.
Lenovo ThinkPad Helix review: Hardware and performance
Our mid-range sample of the ThinkPad Helix was powered by a third-generation Ivy Bridge Intel Core i7-3667U processor with 8 GB of memory. Aiding performance and providing storage space is a large 256 GB SSD. Our sample came with regular Windows 8 but you can choose the Pro version at £66 extra cost.
Benchmarks results from PCMark 7 were marginally higher than the Microsoft Surface Pro, 4811 compared to 4751 points. The Helix is no gaming tablet with a poor 10 fps in our Stalker test at the native 1920 x 1080 resolution. Things weren't much better at a lower in our basic test at 1280 x 720 resolution, just 17 fps.
Lenovo has equipped the Helix with an excellent 11.6in IPS screen protected by Gorilla Glass with a full-HD resolution, matching the Surface Pro. The touchscreen supports up to 10-point multi-touch with Windows 8 along with a digitiser pen for an extra input option.
As well as some high-end core specifications, there is mobile technology including the usual Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, plus NFC and optional 3G modem. The model that includes the latter cellular-data connectivity costs £1861.
The Helix isn't so abundant when it comes to physical ports. The tablet has one USB 2.0 and a Mini DisplayPort. That complement is boosted by two USB 3.0 ports when docked. Lenovo also supplies ethernet and VGA adaptors in the box.
The Helix has a decent 2.1 Mp front camera for those important video conference calls; and if it's of any importance to you there’s also a good 5 Mp camera on the rear.
Lenovo ThinkPad Helix review: Battery life
Like the Transformer Pad tablets from Asus, the Helix has an additional battery inside the keyboard dock. Lenovo touts up to 10 hours battery life when the tablet is docked with the extra battery in the keyboard; and 6 hours for the tablet on its own.
This sounded pretty good to us but testing both batteries together we only managed to squeeze 6 hours 30 mins of wireless video playback through BBC iPlayer. Still, it's slightly better than other Windows hybrids we've tested and you may get longer with careful use just web browsing or word processing.
Go to next page to see our original hands-on review.