We liked the design of HP's Envy X2 tablet, which comes with full-size, detachable keyboard that lets you use it as a proper laptop when you need to. But, at around £700.00, the X2 costs as much as a good mid-range laptop while only offering basic, entry-level tablet performance. Lenovo's Miix has a lot in common with the X2 but only costs £399.00, which seems like a much more realistic price for a tablet with this sort of specification. See also The 14 best tablets of 2013.
As the name implies, the Miix is a 10-inch tablet - or 10.1-inches, to be precise – and runs the 32-bit version of WIndows 8. It has an attractive IPS display that looks bright and colourful and works well for watching video or browsing the web. The resolution is only 1366x768, but that’s fine for a screen of this size and the brightness of the IPS panel ensured that the image remained clearly visible even when we held the Miix up at all sorts of odd angles. The speakers sound rather thin and tinny, but they're adequate for listening to streaming video, and there's a headphone socket available if you need it. See all Windows tablet reviews.
Tucked away behind that screen is a dual-core Atom Z2760 running at 1.8GHz, along with a modest 2GB of (non-upgradeable) memory and 64GB solid-state storage. Unfortunately, only 31GB of that storage is available for your own files, but there's a micro-SD slot available for additional storage. That’s a fairly modest specification for a device running Windows 8 (32-bit), and it produces an equally modest score of 1477 when running the PCMark 7 benchtest. Even so, it's still more than adequate for web browsing, running Microsoft Office or watching streaming video. The touch-screen controls of the Miix also feel smooth and responsive, and it wakes from sleep virtually instantaneously, while the Windows 8 'fast start' allows it to boot into the Start screen in just five seconds.
Gaming is definitely not a strength, though. The integrated graphics of the Atom processor wouldn't even run our normal Stalker benchmark for 3D graphics, so your gaming action will probably be limited to Angry Birds and other 2D fare. Mind you, the Miix has the same processor, memory and storage as the Envy X2, so it's certainly better value than its HP rival.
However, the Miix doesn't have the impressive build quality of the X2. Its plastic casing is pleasantly thin and light - just 10.1mm thick and 580g in weight – but certainly doesn’t feel as sturdy as the metallic case of the X2. There are also small detaills, such as the flimsy plastic flap that covers the micro-SD slot, that make a poor impression.
The Miix also lacks the solidly built keyboard panel of the X2, opting instead for a wraparound keyboard cover. This isn't as flimsy as some similar keyboard covers that we've seen, and it includes a couple of sturdy clips and a strong magnetic strip that hold the tablet firmly in place for added protection. But the compact keyboard feels a little cramped, and the keys themselves don't travel very well. It's fine for tapping out a quick email every now and then, but it did slow me down when I tried to type at full speed while making notes for this review. And, annoyingly, the single micro-USB 2.0 port built into the Miix is completely blocked by the keyboard cover, which meant that I had to remove it from the cover when I wanted to copy my notes onto a memory stick.
Battery life is respectable, but not outstanding. We got just over 6.5 hours (400mins) of streaming video out of the Miix, and you could probably stretch that closer to eight hours for lighter work, but that’s not particularly impressive when larger Haswell laptops can now offer 10 or more hours between charges.