Lenovo ThinkPad 8 review

Meet the most powerful 8-inch Windows tablet

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In my experience slapping on a high-resolution screen onto a mobile chip powered device is a risky maneuver. Case-and-point with the Dell XPS 11, an insufficient processor can leave a machine woefully underpowered to handle both the display and full Windows operating system. Luckily that was not the completely the case with Lenovo's new tablet but its performance still leaves something to be desired.

Benchmarks

  • 3DMark: Ice Storm: 10,002; Cloud Gate: 1,031
  • PCMark 8 Home: 1,130
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours, 21 minutes

In our benchmark tests, the ThinkPad lagged behind the Iconia W4 and Venue 8 Pro with a lower Ice Storm score, in which the two machines ranked 13,905 and 14,007 points, respectively. However, the ThinkPad's faster processor made up for this deficiency in the more demanding Cloud Gate test, edging out the Dell, which could not run the test at all. Meanwhile, the Acer still managed to beat still beat the ThinkPad with 1,188 points.

Lenovo ThinkPad 8 review

Like the other tablets of its class, the ThinkPad 8 was not able to complete the Fire Strike test, which could be due to anything from an incompatible driver to the chip being pushed to its limits. The test is normally used to test real-time rendering with detail and complexity far beyond normal graphics of games today. Seeing as this is a business tablet, I would have been amazed if the ThinkPad 8 managed to finish the test.

Unfortunately, we could not gauge the CPU or GPU performance of the ThinkPad 8 in Cinebench, because the tablet has a 32-bit operating system. The latest version of the test only supports 64-bit Windows 8.1. While it's easy enough to find 32-bit versions of most business applications, it's a surprise that Lenovo chose this version of Windows 8.1, given the Intel Atom Z3770 is built on a 64-bit architecture.

While the Lenovo failed to pass the synthetic benchmarks with flying colors, in regular use the ThinkPad 8 handled multitasking desktop applications with a mix of Metro apps like a champ. Even with 25 Chrome tabs open, Spotify running, and Lightroom editing images all at the same time, the ThinkPad 8 never choked.

Lenovo ThinkPad 8 review

1080p? Try 1200p

A 1920 x 1200 resolution screen does not just look good on paper: it's a sight to behold. With such a pixel-dense screen, the ThinkPad 8 makes content look just as crisp as the current Nexus 7, which features the same pixel count. What's more, the color is balanced, without any extra saturation or hints of blue tint from the backlight. The display also boasts nearly 170-degree viewing angles all-around, which helps when sharing it to watch movies.

And while the tablet isn't a gaming machine by any stretch, it had no qualms with playing Hearthstone with the graphical settings set to low. The ThinkPad 8 also does an exceptional job with Steam's In-Home Streaming. With a wireless controller, I was able to race a gorgeous, lag-free lap of Grid 2 on my couch rather than in front of my gaming PC.

Lenovo ThinkPad 8 review

A need for odds and ends

Between its sharp screen and beefy CPU, the ThinkPad 8 is aimed at the office worker who wants to carry one machine to work and clip it into a dock at their desk. Supposedly, the Lenovo tablet is powerful enough to power an external display, or two, but TechRadar did not receive a USB 3.0 dock to test its capabilities. As for using the tablet as a standalone productivity machine, that's not quite in the cards.

Like the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, Lenovo's latest tablet needs a keyboard to fully function as a workhorse. The built-in touch keyboard is functional, but annoyingly, it fills up half of the screen in landscape and a decent portion in portrait mode.

Worse yet, the touchscreen can also be frustrating to use because of its high resolution. While the 1200p screen makes media and text look crisp, it also turns menu buttons and even taskbar icons into tiny targets that take multiple taps to trigger. Ideally, I would have liked an option to increase the size of the icons and text but Windows 8.1 only comes with an option to scale everything to a smaller size.

Lenovo ThinkPad 8 review

Bummer of a battery

The one area where ThinkPad 8 is weakest by far is battery life. Where the Iconia W4 managed to last 8 hours and 30 minutes and the Venue 8 Pro for 8 hours and 17 minutes, the Lenovo hung on for a measly 4 hours and 21 minutes on the PCMark 8 battery test.

Even on a lighter endurance run, the ThinkPad 8 only lasted for 5 hours and 18 minutes of use with everyday applications, watching a movie on Netflix, and a quick round of gaming.

Lenovo ThinkPad 8 review

Bundled software

The ThinkPad 8 comes with plenty of bundled software, but most of it is replaceable. Quickcast and Reach are Lenovo device-specific file transfer clients that could be traded up to more open systems, like Dropbox or Box. The same goes with Rara Music, when nearly everyone already uses Spotify or another streaming service.

The most useful piece of Lenovo's software package is Hightail, a respun version of YouSendIt with 5GB of free cloud storage for Lenovo device owners. Hightail also has a few extra perks, like digital signatures and automatic backups. Otherwise, uninstall the Companion app once you get acclimated to the device, and keep Lenovo Support for access to service and the warranty information.

Tech Specs

Product TypeNet-tablet PC
Green CompliantYes
Flash Memory Capacity128 GB
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD Graphics
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
HDMIYes
Backlight TechnologyLED
WimaxNo
Product FamilyThinkPad 8
Operating System Architecture32-bit
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformWindows
Processor ModelZ3770
ColourBlack
Operating SystemWindows 8.1 Pro
Brand NameLenovo
Form FactorSlate
Processor Speed1.46 GHz
Processor TypeAtom
Screen Size21.1 cm (8.3")
Screen Resolution1920 x 1200
Standard Memory2 GB
Weight (Approximate)430.9 g
Cache2 MB
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityGREENGUARD, RoHS
Memory Card ReaderYes
TouchscreenYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Display Screen TechnologyIn-plane Switching (IPS) Technology
WWAN SupportedNo
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Memory StandardLPDDR3-1067
Height8.9 mm
Width224.3 mm
Depth132.1 mm
Screen ModeWUXGA
Memory TechnologyLPDDR3
ManufacturerLenovo Group Limited
Product Model20BN001RUK
Product NameThinkPad 8 20BN001RUK Net-tablet PC
Product LineThinkPad 8
Aspect Ratio16:10
Manufacturer Part Number20BN001RUK
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.lenovo.com/uk/en/
Marketing InformationBUSINESS TABLET WITH FULL PC EXPERIENCE.

This 8.3" multimode tablet features the best offerings from Lenovo, Microsoft, and Intel combined into one productive, mobile, secure device with faster graphics and three modes: Tablet, Desktop, and Tent.
Package Contents
  • ThinkPad 8 20BN001RUK Net-tablet PC
  • Lithium Polymer Battery
  • AC Adapter
Limited Warranty1 Year